Roy looks for third straight PPP win

Bend’s Zoë Roy will go for her third consecutive elite women’s title in the PPP on Saturday.

Roy, 30, won the race by nearly 10 minutes last year, the widest margin of victory by an elite woman since 2004.

Still, Roy knows that many things can go wrong in a race with so many different stages and so much gear.

“Considering how many places things can go awry, I feel like it’s always anyone’s race to win or lose,” Roy said. “A large margin can become a small margin quickly with the snag of a sneaky twig on a rudder, or stray pebble or glass in a wheel or poor nutrition or hydration throughout the day. You never know.”

Roy said she recently returned from a week of backcountry skiing in British Columbia and has taken up a new hobby of surfing the wave at the Bend Whitewater Park.

But she has found time to train for the PPP.

“I’ve been squishing PPP activities in at odd hours,” she said.

Also set to compete in the elite women’s race is Bend’s Mary Wellington, who was runner-up last year. Saturday will mark Wellington’s 12th time racing the PPP as an individual.

Bend’s Carolyn Daubeny, who was third last year, is also in the field. Sierra Foster, also of Bend, rounds out the expected elite women’s field of four racers.

—Mark Morical, The Bulletin

Andrew Boone and Jesse Thomas go way back — all the way to their track and cross-country days at Bend’s Mountain View High School.

Boone and Marshall Greene also go way back, as they first competed against each other in the Pole Pedal Paddle in 2008.

Boone, 37, says he never beat Thomas in running, and he has yet to beat Greene in the PPP, finishing second to him in the multisport race three times. But perhaps this Saturday will be Boone’s chance to defeat both of them in the 42nd annual SELCO Pole Pedal Paddle.

“I haven’t beat Jesse at anything,” Boone said. “We were always 1-2 in running. So I’m going up against two guys who have consistently shown me how great they are. I think it’ll be one of the more competitive races in recent years. They’re both really good friends of mine, but I’d like nothing more than to beat them.”

Last year’s Pole Pedal Paddle featured the closest finish in the elite men’s race since 2004 as Greene outsprinted Paul Schommer to the line by a mere four seconds.

This year could include another tight finish as Greene, Boone and Thomas, all of Bend and all past winners, are all entered. Schommer, of Appleton, Wisconsin, is not returning to race.

Greene, 36, is going for a record-tying eighth victory in the PPP (Justin Wadsworth won eight straight from 1989 to 1996). Boone is shooting for his third PPP win, but his victories in 2011 and 2016 were against elite men’s fields that did not include Greene.

“I would love to get him one of these years while we’re still competing at a high level,” Boone said of his rivalry with Greene.

Thomas, a 38-year-old professional triathlete from Bend, won the PPP in 2015 when the race did not include a nordic leg due to a lack of snow.

The favorite is likely Greene, who won each year from 2006 to 2010, then again in 2014 and 2017. Greene said that his training has been better than in the last couple of years, but he downplayed the significance of tying Wadsworth’s record.

“Honestly that’s not super important,” Greene said. “It’s a fun thing to say, but at this point, PPP is sort of the one race that I try to get in shape for every year … mostly just the motivation to get off the couch.”

He added that he plans to keep racing the PPP as an individual as long as it stays fun, and he is not ruling out one day breaking the victories record.

“Each year the training buildup gets a little bit longer,” Greene said. “I have to start a little bit earlier. But at the same time I keep waiting for the year when someone fresh out of college comes along and puts five minutes into us.”

Greene and Boone agree they will likely have a lead on Thomas after the ski and bike legs, but the question is whether Thomas — whose strength is running — can catch them in the run.

“I think it’s going to be a running race, honestly,” Boone said. “Jesse is a great nordic skier, don’t let him tell you otherwise. Alpine ski is probably where he will lose most of the time, because he’s just not going to be comfortable. And he can’t risk getting injured for his day job. It’s going to come down to a footrace, and Jesse has more experience than Marshall and I combined at running off the bike. So that’s a real threat.”

Thomas said he skied cross-country about a dozen times this past winter but has not skied downhill much at all. He said his “only option” is to catch the other racers during the run and then hang on during the paddle and the sprint to the finish.

“I’ve been riding some with Andrew and I’ve seen some of his runs, and he’s in the best shape he’s been in in a while,” said Thomas, who is gearing up for the Challenge Roth Ironman-distance triathlon on July 1 in Germany. “The math that I did, versus Marshall, I’ve got to be starting the bike ride within like three or four minutes (after Marshall), I would say. The paddle is the thing that everybody forgets about, and it’s a huge part of the race.”

And racers should not forget about the last half-mile dash into the Les Schwab Amphitheater, either.

Said Boone: “It could come down to the final sprint like last year.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,