For the first time in more than 40 years, the Pole Pedal Paddle will not be staged in Central Oregon.
But the folks at Oregon Adaptive Sports have found a way to keep the spirit of the region’s signature multisport race alive this spring.
While the 44th annual PPP, originally scheduled for Saturday, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OAS is offering the DIY At Home Pole Pedal Paddle. Participants can come up with their own version of the PPP from home, indoors or outdoors. They can team up with housemates or virtually with others.
The PPP includes a downhill ski run, an 8-kilometer nordic ski, a 22-mile bike ride, a 5-mile run, a 11/2-mile paddle, and a 1-mile sprint finish.
The race is normally staged on a course from Mount Bachelor to the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, but for the DIY PPP racers can develop their own routes and use them on Saturday.
Finishing times do not matter so much as creativity, according to Kellie Standish, development and marketing coordinator for OAS.
Participants can post photo or video evidence of their DIY At Home PPP on Facebook or Instagram and tag OAS (@oregon_adaptive_sports) or send an email to email@example.com. The most creative entry from Central Oregon will win a Hydro Flask backpack filled with prizes from local businesses. Costumes are encouraged, and participants must maintain social distance requirements at all times and not access areas that are closed.
OAS, a Bend-based nonprofit that provides outdoor recreation experiences to those with disabilities, typically enters about 10 teams and more than 50 athletes in the PPP each year.
“We love the Pole Pedal Paddle,” Standish says. “We put our athletes in it each year and it’s one of the highlights of the year for the adaptive program.
“I know it’s easy to get stuck being home, so having a definitive goal seems like a fun idea. It’s definitely going to be out of some people’s comfort zones and they’ll have to be creative. We’ve heard some pretty good ideas so far so it’ll be fun to see how they’re executed.”
Standish says that some competitors are teaming up virtually, tagging off through the different stages throughout the day. Like the regular PPP, the DIY PPP can include teams, pairs and individuals.
“Everyone’s goals are super different,” Standish says. “So set a realistic amount of things to accomplish. It’s just for fun, and to give them a creative way to do this. The more we can have fun and celebrate things non-traditionally, the better we will all do.”
Standish completed the entire race last year and plans to compete as an individual for the DIY PPP. While the biking and running legs are fairly easy to figure out, the alpine and nordic skiing stages are a bit more challenging. Roller blading can work for the nordic stage.
“The downhill skiing will probably just be some ski jumps or something,” Standish says. “I can’t figure out how to ski in my neighborhood. I’m excited for some of the other stuff. I have some roller blades that I will be utilizing for the skate ski section.”
Standish says that adaptive athletes might have somewhat of an advantage.
“You can do a lot of things in a wheelchair,” she says. “A friend of mine is talking about setting up a gates course down a hill nearby and just going down in her wheelchair. You can replicate a lot of the different stages.”
For the paddle stage, Standish has heard the idea of paddling in a hot tub for the length of time it would take to paddle 1½ miles on the Deschutes River. Another idea includes riding a skateboard while making paddle motions with a large pole with tennis balls on each end.
“I love the way our childlike creativity comes out when we’re trying to do stuff like this,” Standish says. “There’s so many things up in the air right now. But having some goals and having some ways that we can celebrate things that are a normal part of our experiences is really important, too. The PPP is part of our spring experience. It’ll be nice to have some good memories of the quarantine.”