Elite trail runner Mario Mendoza wins the Canyon Rumble
The Madras Rumble Frozen Canyon brought in a ton of racers during its eighth annual run Dec. 7.
During those eight years the race has given back $20,000 to youth running programs and high school scholarships in Jefferson County.
This year was a little different because Mario Mendoza, a renowned trail runner, entered and won the race. Mendoza is a four-time United States of America Track and Field Trail Runner of the Year (2010, 2013, 2017, 2018). He is also a five-time USATF Trail Running National Champion and has several other elite accolades.
Three races follow the Willow Canyon Trail in Madras, a 10k, 5k and half marathon. The race had icy conditions, but that didn't stop the 88 racers that were registered from pushing themselves through the cold.
Racers came not only from Central Oregon towns but also places like Detroit, Michigan, and Seattle, Washington.
Mendoza, 33, who lives in Bend and works in Madras, won the half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 25.13 minutes. Brandon Basher, of Prineville, placed second with a time of 1:31.12, and Charles Remington finished with a time of 1:35.20, placing third.
"I don't think I have done this race, but I run this trail (Willow Creek) a lot," said Mendoza. "I run from my office, when I can get a chance to sneak out. I have gone all the way down to the lake (Simtustus), and it is beautiful."
"I love the challenge, but it was hard," Mendoza said about the snow and ice. "It made it a lot slower. The whole trail pretty much had snow. There was maybe like a 2% section that didn't have snow on the trail. The roads weren't bad, actually. I was worried they would be icy, but they weren't. At the turnaround, there was about 2 inches of snow and 4 to 6 inches before the turnaround. You work hard, expend more energy, but if you give yourself the right perspective, it is fun. This is the course you have. Now get through it and enjoy it because that is the point. It is fun."
Mendoza does a lot of work with the youth in the community, especially through Madras High School. He also runs a club for kids in Madras, working for Central Oregon Youth for Christ.
"I love to run," Mendoza said. "I love the mountains and I love the way it humbles me. I like to do as much as I can, but lately I have been so busy. I try to include activities that are similar with kids and youth. I work a lot in Madras. I work for Central Oregon Youth for Christ, and my office is here downtown. It has been a great year, trying to learn and get connected with the community. I guess I am a runner first just because that is the way I was designed, but I also work as a pastor. My family is number one in my life with my son, wife and parents, but other than that, I really like connecting with people."
"I coach a little bit with a track team, so I come two days a week and help out with the distance crew," Mendoza said. "I sometimes do motivational talks because I preach sometimes at different churches, so I actually might enjoy the smaller scale, youth audiences the most just because you can see in their face, they don't hide anything. You can see if they really get it or not. That is what I do on the running side."
"Sometimes I help teaching some stuff on campus," he said. "I just got done teaching AVID for them, so I just spent the week teaching for classes. That is just a program that kids volunteer for to excel in life. I really like that because it is not kids that are forced to take the class. They want to hear, and so I get to share my story, the challenges, obstacles, the uphill battle of my life and that it is possible to overcome. We also have club nights at our office, and that is really fun. Kids come, have a meal together, conversations, hang out, play games, and after we do a group activity and 15 minutes of teaching. I do connect to life lessons, but because I have such a strong faith, I connect my faith to it as well. I keep that minimal because I don't want to force my beliefs on anyone else, but it is an open invitation for kids."
Mendoza is going to try and set a world record at Madras High here in the next couple of months. He is going to attempt to break the 50K treadmill record. In order to do that, he has to run about 31 miles in less than two hours and 59 minutes. He needs to maintain a pace of around 5:40 per mile in order to succeed.
"We are going to go for it," Mendoza said. "It is hard because I haven't raced as much as I should this year, and I should run another race, but my heart tells me that I have to do this. I want to do an event, and I don't know if I can hit the world record, but at least I want to show the kids that you have to go after big things and believe it's possible, not putting limits on yourself. I want them to see that. It is not just about participation, but that a lot of them have a lot of gifts, and you can do big things. Sometimes it just takes seeing something, getting that fire inside and believing."
"My goal is to inspire the kids," he said. "It will be an exclusive event just for the high school because it will be during high school hours. I hope it goes well, I am praying that it does, and I hope it helps the kids and the wonderful staff at the high school."
Mendoza and the high school are still working on a specific time, but they are shooting for before the kids leave for Christmas break in December or after they return in January.
"It is going to be a mental battle, but I think we have a shot," said Mendoza. "My body is starting to get back in shape. I had a bit of knee tendonitis, but I think things are coming around now. I want to give it a shot."
The 10k race was won by Jason Townsend, of Bend, with a time of 43:03. James Blanchard placed second with a time of 43:54.
Evan Powell, 16, of Metolius, won the 5k with a time of 23:10 and Jeremiah Peone, 15, placed second with a time of 28:50.
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