The final event at Saturday’s Deschutes Dash multisport event came with two guarantees: Contestants were going to have fun, and they were going to get wet.
About 60 children between 3 and 10 gathered at Riverbend Park after an awards ceremony for adult racers, ready to run and splash through an obstacle course.
Caleb Walker, 7, of Myrtle Creek, ran with his sisters, 9-year-old Maddison and 10-year-old Mariah. He’d worked out his strategy for finishing two loops around the Splash N Dash course.
“I’m gonna run hard,” he said.
The route started with a short dash to a set of blue plastic pools filled with water and colorful ball-pit balls. After scrabbling through the pools, contestants had to hustle to a set of fabric tunnels and crawl through as fast as they could, then get back on their feet and carefully run through a carpet of tires.
One final sprint brought them to an inflatable water slide, and they finished by triumphantly sliding into a pool of water.
The youngest group only did one loop, but older children did two or three.
The tires were the hardest part, said Addylan Lemar, 5, of Bend, but sliding into the pool made the difficult tires worth it.
Her parents and 4-year-old sister, Vera, who ran in the younger group, cheered her on.
“I want to do it again and again and again,” Addylan said.
The earliest heat, of 3- and 4-year-olds, was the most casual, with parents running alongside to help their young kids through the pools and figure out the tubes.
The heats grew more intense as the children grew older, ending in an all-out race between the 8- to 10-year-olds.
Rowan Spain, 8, of Portland, easily won that heat, grinning as he slid into the pool to cheers and applause from his nearby family. Afterward, soaked and draped in a towel like a pint-sized Olympic swimmer, he said he didn’t expect to win but had one mantra running in his head before the race.
“Just at least get in a good place,” he said.
That kept him hurrying, unsure of where he was in the race until he turned his final corner.
“I realized I was going to win it when I was on the tires on the last lap,” he said. “I saw everyone ahead of me turning to do another lap, and I sprinted to the slide.”
— Reporter: 541-633-2160; firstname.lastname@example.org