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Annual race begins Thursday morning at the Prineville Swimming pool, ends in Ochoco Creek Park

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - Runners leave the starting line during last year's John Marsh Memorial 5K Run. The run is part of the annual Splash N' Dash event that starts and ends at Ochoco Creek Park in Prineville each Fourth of JulyThe annual Fourth of July Splash N' Dash has long been a Prineville tradition.

The multi-event race has become one of the most popular sporting events in town, attracting participants from around the Northwest.

"Sometimes when the Fourth comes out midweek, we get a lot more locals that come out, but since its a Thursday we think that some people from out of town may take Friday off too, so we could have a big turnout," Race organizer Ernie Brooks said. "That's what we are hoping for."

The event, which is a fundraiser for the Crook County High School and Middle School track and field program, has four choices of races to choose from.

The traditional Splash N' Dash race includes a 500-meter pool swim, a 13-mile bike along Crooked River, a 1.5-mile kayak leg and a 4-mile run.

The race can be done as an individual or a relay team of between two and four people.

Brooks added that junior high teams often want to do the race as relay teams, but do not want to have to do the distance of an entire leg.

"We are flexible," he said. "We understand that this is a fundraiser and a lot of times especially younger teams don't feel comfortable doing the whole thing. So if teams want to split up stages, as long as they arrange it in advance and there is supervision, we are good with it."

For those who either don't have a kayak, or don't want to do the water element, racers can also choose to do a triathlon. Like the Splash N' Dash, the triathlon can be run individually or as a team. It runs essentially the same route as the Splash N' Dash, just minus the kayak portion of the race.

A third option is a duathlon, which includes a 13-mile bike ride and a 4-mile run. Once again, participants may run as individuals or as a team.

The final race is the John Marsh Memorial 5K Run.

This is the third year since Marsh, who operated Dad's Place, a local dinner, passed away.

A local runner, Marsh was a big supporter of youth athletics.

"He was a huge supporter of giving people second chances," Brooks said. "His story about his run through rough years and how he bounced out of it is just amazing, and how he gave kids and people second chances to get back on their feet was just amazing."

Brooks added that, as a result, the track teams gives back a portion of the proceeds from the 5K race to a needy family or individual in the community.

"We see this as the same thing," he said. "Of us being able to give back and help people get that second chance that maybe they don't get down the road."

The first year of the John Marsh race organizers gave funds to a homeless family that was trying to return to Idaho. Two years ago the money went to local high school student Vincente Ramirez, who was in need of a kidney transplant. Last year the funds went to Shea Little, a former CCHS teacher and coach who underwent a double lung transplant.

"We want to leave a legacy," Brooks said. We want to be unselfish in giving and humbly being a servant. We want the mindset to be 'guess what? I'm doing this because I love you and I'm caring for you and it's what's right.' It's not I'm doing this because I will get something back. We don't expect anything back. We don't want anything back. We want to give in a way that will help someone out."

The races, which are run in waves, start and end at Ochoco Creek Park.

The Splash N' Dash begins at 8 a.m. with the John Marsh Memorial 5K starting at 9 a.m.

Racing will continue throughout the morning with awards presented at noon.

Last year's event saw a record turnout of 170 participants and more than 30 volunteers. Brooks expects this year to be even bigger.

To register in advance for the race, go to

Day of the race registration begins at 7:15 a.m. at the Prineville Pool.

"We have great sponsorship this year," Brooks said. "It's been a good year, so this year we are looking to give back more on the John Marsh 5K. Now, we are just building up a little excitement for it."

Cost for the event is $30 per individual or $25 per individual on a team.

For more information, go to the website, or contact Brooks at 541-350-3405 or Larry Smith at 541-633-3052.

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