Racing around the wetland
The Crooked River Wetlands Complex was not built exclusively for footraces.
But a very deliberate element of its design opened up that possibility, and soon a local running club will finally take advantage.
The Wetland Webfoot Waddle will launch what is expected to be line of long-distance footraces at the city-operated facility on Saturday morning. The event is hosted by the Prineville Oregon Running Klub (PORK), and proceeds from the 5K and 10K races will benefit the cross country programs at Crook County Middle School and Crook County High School.
"We are just trying to get people out here to the wetland to see what it is all about," said James Blanchard, who works for the city's public works department and co-administers the running club with fellow member Chuck Coats. "We are trying to get people actively involved in running."
Blanchard remembers when the possibility of hosting running races at the wetland first emerged. City Engineer Eric Klann approached him, telling the avid runner, "You are going to love this. The outside perimeter of this wetland is a perfect 5K."
This discovery was made during design of the project, seven or eight years before the starting pistol would fire for the first race, but as work continued on the project, the 5K-length trail was kept in the fold.
"I think it is wonderful that Anderson Perry (the firm tasked with designing the project) was able to set everything up so that we have that 5K loop," Klann said. "Now to see it actually being used, and all of the funds being dedicated to cross country teams, it is a long time coming, and we are very pleased to see it happening."
Saturday's event will be the second race PORK has hosted since forming in 2009. The running group, which takes all comers and doesn't charge any dues, took over the Run Like a Turkey 5K after race founder and PORK member John Marsh passed away last year.
The Webfoot Waddle will feature a 5K and 10K, with the longer race covering two laps around the wetland. Placing will be broken into several categories, including masters (age 40 and older), walkers of both distances, and top placers overall.
The first 98 runners will receive a handmade deer antler medallion with a duck stamped on it.
Blanchard and Coats hope the inaugural Webfoot Waddle will be the first of many that take place on the wetland.
"It's a perfect place for a race. It's beautiful out here," Blanchard remarked.
Coats added that it's a more spectator friendly location than others in Prineville.
"You can see the runners almost all of the way around," he said.
The two organizers could also point out that the course is fast and flat, but prefer not to "because it's all relative."
"There is one little uphill," Blanchard quipped.
Klann hopes the appeal of the wetland location will draw more running races going forward.
"It is going to be such an easy area to put on races," he said. "It's not like you're setting up a course throughout the city. The route is very simple and easy to follow. There are restrooms, a covered pavilion and ample parking. Hopefully, this is the first of many."
The Wetlands Webfoot Waddle will be held at the Crooked River Wetland Complex on Saturday, June 9.
Cost is $20 for advance registration at porkrunning.org/webfoot, or $30 the day of the race. Runners 12 and younger can participate free of charge.
Day-of-race registration will take place from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The 5K and 10K races will both start at 10 a.m.