Sometimes it's not all about who wins
When it comes to sports, most of the time it's all about who wins.
However, in this year's Splash N Dash, winning took a back seat.
For the first time, the annual Fourth of July event added a 5K run to the festivities.
Event organizer Ernie Brooks noted that the 5K was a memorial run for John Marsh, the former proprietor of Dad's Place, and a longtime supporter of the Splash N Dash.
"It was good for us, just honoring John's life," he said. "You know, he was always a part of our Splash N Dash, and we will take a portion of the proceeds and find a worthy cause with Shelly (John's wife) and see that the money goes where it needs to go."
The inaugural run attracted nearly 60 entrants, making the total participation for the event the largest in Splash N Dash history.
In recent years, the Splash N Dash had begun attracting more talented athletes, but nothing like this year.
Tate Metcalf, a long-time track and field coach, has come to the event for several years, and this year he came with friends.
"Tate brought some studs," Brooks said. "They swept. All five of them won their age groups, and Danny Cecchini was an overall winner. We coached against each other when he was at Mountain View, and you know, he's a good friend that always wants to support us and what we are doing. It was just cool."
One of the individuals that Metcalf brought to town is especially well known, world record holder and two-time Olympic Decathlon champion Ashton Eaton.
Eaton showed up, and that was awesome," Brooks said. "Here's a guy who is a two-time defending Olympic champion and world record holder, and he's just a regular guy who hates the swim, doesn't quite know how to kayak, but loves competing and being in the sport."
Brooks added that what he loves about the Splash N Dash is that anyone can do it regardless of age or talent level, and that the event can be as challenging or low key as each individual wants to make it.
To illustrate that point, Brooks noted that his 9-year-old daughter, Lucy, was in the lane adjacent to Eaton for the swimming portion of the race.
"Here's my 9-year-old swimming next to this guy, and we've got a picture of Lucy, and Ashton is in the back making faces, photo bombing us. That's just a guy that is really humble and having fun."
Brooks added that people use the excuse that they aren't in shape, but that in reality, anyone can do the event.
"You know, Lucy made the time in the pool to be able to hand off to her fifth-grade friend that biked 12 miles," he said. "It might take a little longer, but anyone can do it. This is Ashton's first triathlon-like event. Tate signed him up, and he didn't even know about it, and he's not a good swimmer, but he's out there and he's trying it. That's what's so cool about the Splash N Dash."
Although Eaton did manage to win his age group, he was far from the first finisher in the event.
"Man that was brutal," he said as he crossed the finish line. "I think that everyone should try to do something that's outside of their comfort zone at least once. This is a really good first event to do. It's beginner friendly, but I think that we have a lot of really good athletes out here, so if you want to challenge yourself, you can do that as well. We've got kids out here, we've got a couple of older folks, so it was super fun."
Dave Sieveking was the individual winner of the Splash N Dash with a time of 1:35:32, while a business team called Lethal Dose was the overall winner with a time of 1:29:24.
Although he didn't challenge for the win, Eaton won the 19-29 age group with a time of 1:49.05, finishing 17th overall, and fifth among individuals.
"It's pretty challenging if you've never done it," Eaton said. "Honestly, I think the biking was the hardest for me. I'm not used to that endurance. I'm not very good at swimming, but the biking was way harder. Obviously this is for a good cause — track and field for Crook County — so anything to help Central Oregon sports."
After leading Eaton through the first three stages of the race, Metcalf wound up 19th with a time of 9:51.51.
The first family team across the finish line was made up of high school and junior high competitors.
2 Carnes and A Binder included Jan Carne, a high school distance running star, who did the swimming portion of the race, Alec Carne, her junior high brother, who did the bike ride and run portion, and Shiloh Binder, who did the kayaking.
They finished seventh overall with a time of 1:40.46.
"I think it's a really fun thing to do," said Binder, who is 12. "I expect to do this for many more years, and I think anybody could do it. Just get on a team and split it up because then it's not quite as hard."
Although there were more individual competitors this year than in past years, the lone woman to complete the Splash N Dash as an individual was 14 year old Marah Binder, who finished the course in 2:05.59.
Unlike the Splash N Dash several women competed in the triathlon, including a pair of individuals who finished high up in the standings.
The Splash N Dash includes swimming, biking, kayaking and running legs while the triathlon does not have a kayaking leg.
Tonya Koopman was the woman's triathlon winner, finishing fifth overall with a time of 1:24:05.
Drew Jones, who was one of the athletes who came with Metcalf, was the next woman finisher, taking ninth overall with a time of 1:31:50.
Danny Cecchini was the overall triathlon winner with a time of 1:16:38. Connor Chaney was the second athlete overall to finish the triathlon with a time of 1:22.59.
He was followed to the finish line by the mixed team Slow But Good, which finished with a time of 1:23:43.
Curt Gibson won the 5K race with a time of 19:43. He was followed by James Blanchard with a time of 22:33 and Kyle Haswell, who finished in 21:01.
Patty Schmitz was the first woman finisher, taking 13th overall, with a time of 27.15. She was followed closely by Krista Cooley, who was 14th overall in 27:16.
"I am beyond pleased," Brooks said. "This is something that's going to keep growing every year as we add things and make it more convenient. We want to see Splash N Dash getting bigger, but we also want to keep that home-town feel, too. I'm excited for what we've done. It's a great fundraiser for our program."