Organizers for Bend’s annual Pole Pedal Paddle multi-sport race for years have noticed one glaring thing they believe kept more people from signing up: The Nordic leg.
So in 2020 they’re pulling out all the stops to remove that barrier to entry for athletes who want to participate in one of Central Oregon’s most iconic events.
Registration is open for the 44th annual race which, for the first time, will feature a mountain bike leg in lieu of the Nordic and road cycling legs. You can also “hire” a cross country skier from the MBSEF Nordic Ski program to complete that leg for your team.
“The SELCO Pole Pedal Paddle has thrived for generations because it is enjoyed every year by such a wide range of competitors, from less-competitive racers who are out to share a fun experience with family and friends to elite multi-sport athletes who perform breathtaking individual feats,” said Molly Cogswell-Kelley, executive director of the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, which organizes the event. “One thing that has always remained consistent is the original spirit of the PPP. We are proud that the camaraderie and fun the event fosters — in addition to the celebration of all that makes Central Oregon an outdoors haven — lives on year after year.”
Kelly said they’ve offered the help of MBSEF’s Nordic program to teams who needed skiers in the past, but this is the first year they’re promoting it to the masses.
This year’s race happens on May 16th and early registration pricing is available through April 9th. Participants can register as individuals, pairs, or teams at PPPBend.com. Typically, the event attracts more than 2,000 racers from throughout the Northwest and beyond.
The multi-sport race includes alpine and cross-country skiing, cycling, running, and kayaking, and stretches from the slopes of Mt. Bachelor to the finish line in Bend. Athletes of all ages compete in divisions ranging in skill level from novices to elite racers, and either individually or as part of a team.
This year’s edition also features a new finish area, near Farewell Bend Park on the south side of the Deschutes River. The vendor area will be near the pedestrian bridge over the river at the Old Mill District. The Les Shwab Amphitheater is no longer part of the festivities.
The individual Pole Pedal Paddle legs include:
Alpine leg: Beginning at the top of Mt. Bachelor’s Red Chair, participants sprint 200 feet uphill to their waiting skis or snowboards, then proceed down the Leeway run to the base of the mountain near the West Village Lodge.
Nordic leg: The 8-kilometer cross-country leg winds around the West Village parking lot before taking skiers through Mt. Bachelor’s vast Nordic trial system, finishing near the Nordic Center. Bike leg: The 22-mile, mostly downhill bike leg takes riders from the West Village parking lot down Century Drive to the edge of Bend, finishing at the Athletic Club of Bend.
Run leg: The run leg departs the Athletic Club of Bend for a 5-mile singletrack trail run along the Deschutes River, finishing at Riverbend Park. Kids teams (under 12 years) will take on a shortened course.
Paddle leg: The 1.5-mile canoe/kayak/SUP leg begins at Riverbend Park and heads upstream for ½ mile, before heading downstream for ¾ mile. A final ¼ mile upstream segment brings paddlers to the finish back at Riverbend Park.
Sprint leg: Starting at the paddle finish in Riverbed Park, the 1-mile sprint leg features a new course for 2020 that follows the paved path along the Deschutes River, taking participants to the finish line in the Old Mill District.
Mountain Bike option: New for 2020, participants have the option to complete a mountain bike leg in lieu of the Nordic and road cycling legs. The mountain bike course takes riders down Century Drive to Wanoga Sno Park, where they will continue along the Funner and Storm King singletrack trails before exiting onto Conklin Road, then to Century Drive to the Athletic Club of Bend.
The SELCO Pole Pedal Paddle is produced by and for the benefit of the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, which creates opportunities through competitive snow sports programs to support athletes in achieving their individual athletic, academic, and personal goals. The cost to register in the early period, which lasts through April 9, ranges from $40 per team member to $80 for adults who race individually. For more information or to register for the 44th annual SELCO Pole Pedal Paddle, visit www.pppbend.com.
About the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation: The Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities through competitive snow sports programs to support Central Oregon athletes in achieving their individual athletic, academic, and personal goals. Its vision is to positively impact the life of every athlete it serves. For more information on MBSEF and its programs, visit www.mbsef.org.
Photo courtesy Dina Boswell Photography