It was 2008 when the Madras Aquatic Center had just opened its doors to the public.
Memberships had been purchased, folks were in the water, and programs were launching. But this beautiful building that exemplified the community's commitment to health and wellness deserved to be showcased. So a few short months after the grand opening of the MAC, the first MAC Dash sprint triathlon was hosted and it instantly became a community staple.
Dr. Suzy El-Attar, who was a physician at Madras Medical Group, became the inaugural chair of the event and predicted that it would be great for the community, promote fitness, showcase the MAC and might even bring folks from out of town to participate.
She was able to check all those boxes, as 118 people showed up the first year — some from out of state. She led the MAC Dash committee, which included Angela Harris, Josh Adams, Lonnie Henderson, Grant Hayball, Bobby DeRoest, Maura Schwartz, Stan Nowakowski and Jim Gemelas from 2008-2011. She passed the torch to Harris in 2012 when she and her husband, Dr. David Evans, moved to the Seattle area. That year, she returned to participate for the first time and loved it.
When recalling the first MAC Dash in 2008, El-Attar said, "it just blew me away how the community embraced it. Everyone was asking 'how can we help,' and by race day, local businesses had donated to support the event, dozens of volunteers showed up; the police and EMTs donated their time. It was wonderful!"
The participant surveys confirmed it. Folks loved the MAC, the views, and mostly the local community members who made their experience memorable.
During the third year of the MAC Dash, El-Attar and the committee decided to host the first Mini-MAC Dash to add something fun for younger kids.
The first year, 48 kids ran across the finish line to receive their participant medals, and close to 100 kids would participate in future races. It was a smashing success and fun for everyone, including the spectators who cheered each child across the finish line, often with their parents running beside them. This year, the Middle MAC Dash will be added as a timed event for youths ages 11-14.
Evans, former chair of the MAC Board and the MAC Trust, participated in the first several events and was impressed by the community involvement. It was clear that the volunteers and donors took pride in hosting the event and wanted to be involved.
When asked how the MAC Dash compares to races in the Seattle area he said, "I have done several and they are impressive," citing the Rock n' Roll half marathon as one example. "But they are clearly a big business, and they are impersonal. You don't have your friends and neighbors cheering you along the race route and across the finish line. The MAC Dash is organized and run by the community, it's fun and everyone feels welcome."
When they come for the 10-year anniversary event this year on Sept. 9, the Evans' will bring their 14-year-old daughter Samira to participate as the biker on a MAC Dash team. Along with her friends Ellie Williams (swimmer) and Brooke Delamarter (runner), she hopes to do well in the team event. She is training by biking the Burke-Gilman trail near her home and is planning some training rides on the MAC Dash route a few weeks before the event. Her brother Ben, who is 17, won't be able to participate this year due to prior commitments.
Proceeds from the MAC Dash are now used to support the Madras Swim and Water Polo Teams. Visit www.macdash.org for race details, registration and information.