By Beau Eastes

The Bulletin

2013 Madras Canyon Rumble Frozen Half Marathon

When: Saturday, 10 a.m.

Where: Starts and finishes at Madras Physical Therapy

Cost: $30

Registration: Register at Madras Physical Therapy during the week or on the day of the race

Web: Search for “Madras Canyon Rumble Frozen Half”

MADras Runners

What: Madras running group open to all abilities

When: Group runs on Wednesdays and some Saturdays

Web: Facebook page “MADras Runners”

Jamie Hurd admits it was a bit of a shock when she moved from Bend to Madras two years ago.

An avid runner who was used to Bend’s uberactive running scene, Hurd was stunned that her new community did not even have an informal running club.

So she created MADras Runners.

“There was nothing going on here,” says Hurd, 31, who explains that the first three letters of Madras are capitalized because her club is a little “crazy” in nature. “At first it was just me and one other person, but now we’ve got a really good group of people getting together.”

With a mild climate, trails inside and outside of town, and Willow Canyon and Lake Simtustus nearby, Madras makes for a great place to run, according to Hurd, regardless of ability level.

“This town has an awesome trail system,” she says. “The weather is pretty mild. I think it snowed once last year. There’s a ton of BLM and Forrest Service roads to run on, and Lake Simtustus, right below Lake Billy Chinook, goes by some amazing cliffs.

“Right now we’re running together once a week, running in the dark with headlamps and crazy (reflective) vests,” Hurd adds. “We’ve got all different technical levels. Some can run a mile and some run marathons.”

In addition to organizing group runs, MADras Runners has partnered with Madras Physical Therapy to start putting on more timed races in town. Madras Physical Therapy sponsored a five-race 10K series that ran from May to November — the final race was last Saturday’s Turkey Trot — and this Saturday the physical therapy clinic will stage the second annual Canyon Rumble Frozen Half Marathon.

“We deliberately chose this time of year,” says Trevor Groves, who co-owns Madras Physical Therapy with Rob Nelson. “The rest of the running calendar is really packed. … Last year we had about 60 people with very little promotion, but it got the ball rolling.”

The crown jewel of Madras’ new racing scene, the Canyon Rumble, starts and ends at Madras Physical Therapy. The race follows a paved footpath out of town and up M Hill, a climb of about 100 feet in less than a quarter of a mile. About 2 miles into the race runners hit the dirt trail into Willow Canyon, a combination of singletrack and gravel roads that travels over several footbridges. After the initial climb over M Hill, the course is all downhill until the turnaround point. Taking a page from some of Bend’s more successful runs, the Canyon Rumble will have plenty of food and beer awaiting participants at the finish line.

“It’s a really cool race,” Hurd says. “Deschutes (Brewing) donated some kegs, Hydro Flask donated a bunch of prizes. … Obviously we’ll have age-group prizes, but we’ll also give away stuff for the best ‘battle wound’ or ‘muddiest finisher.’ And we’ll have bands playing at certain points on the course.”

The race will also honor the memory of one of Madras’ early running pioneers, Jack Watts, who died last May at age 89. A lifelong Central Oregon resident, Watts took up running later in life, eventually competing in 10 marathons, including the Boston Marathon. Proceeds from the Canyon Rumble will go to the Jack Watts Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will award scholarship money to Jefferson County high school students who compete in track or cross-country.

“He picked up running in his mid-40s when no one was running,” says Groves, who got to know Watts through his physical therapy clinic. “People would stop and ask him if he was OK or needed some help. … Up until just a few months before he passed away, he was still running at the clinic. His feet touched the ground softer than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Online registration for the Canyon Rumble, Central Oregon’s last half marathon of the year, has closed, but runners can still sign up at Madras Physical Therapy the rest of the week and on the day of the race. Groves is also promoting what he calls the Westside Mile, a free 1-mile community race that also starts and finishes at his clinic.

“Most everyone can walk a mile,” Groves says. “A run or a walk through your community, it allows you to meet your neighbors and engage in a healthy activity. Promoting wellness isn’t just physical, it’s about relating to your neighbors and co-workers.”

Anyone interested in Madras’ blossoming running community is encouraged to swing by Madras Physical Therapy on Saturday, or check out the MADras Runners’ Facebook page.

“Once people come, they’re hooked,” Hurd says about the power of running in a group. “We’re slowly transforming our community.”

—Reporter: 541-383-0305;