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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation June 28, 2016

7/1/2014 12:43:00 PM
Runners go to camp
Runners had a unique experience in SPRDís cross-country camp. photo by Jerry Baldock
+ click to enlarge
Runners had a unique experience in SPRDís cross-country camp. photo by Jerry Baldock

By Charlie Kanzig

What began as an innovation to expand activities at Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD) turned into a very successful camp for 23 runners from throughout Oregon who participated in the inaugural Great Northwest Sports Camps cross-country camp, according to SPRD Executive Director Liam Hughes.  

The camp began Sunday, June 22 and drew to a close Saturday, June 28.

Patterned after the Sisters Outlaws' traditional team camp, high school runners ran the trails, climbed the hills, and rafted the rivers of Central Oregon with the goal of becoming stronger physically and mentally, while gaining further appreciation for the wonders of the outdoors.

Camp days started at 7:30 a.m. each morning with yoga sessions conducted by Newport High School Coach Tom Swinford, a spry 67-year-old who joined the youngsters on all of the trail runs throughout the week. Hughes and Swinford met six years ago in Newport when Swinford persuaded Hughes to start a middle school cross-country program and to direct some competitive endurance events.

Outlaws Running Coach Josh Nordell, with the help of recent graduate and state champion runner Brandon Pollard, led the running each day on regional trails including the McKenzie River Trail, the Peterson Ridge system, and Alder Springs.

The first and last outings of the camp took place on the trail up Black Butte. Sunday evening's hike set the stage for the week, giving the campers a panoramic view of Sisters Country, while Thursday's trek presented a much tougher challenge: a race to the top.

"We think the final race will become a signature event for our camp," said Hughes.

Nordell enjoyed watching the runners develop during the week. "I will certainly be watching their performances during the upcoming season and told them I expect them to come and say 'hi' if they see me at the state meet."

Athletes "camped" in the classrooms at SPRD, and food was provided through local businesses that catered for the camp. Matt Kirchoff of Therapeutic Associates volunteered time each evening to help athletes cope with their tired, sore bodies, according to Michael Tessier, event coordinator for SPRD.

"Matt was a fantastic help this week," said Tessier. "His knowledge and experience helped the kids learn how to better care for themselves as athletes."

Combining running with other outdoor pursuits such as canoeing on Dark Lake and whitewater rafting on the Deschutes is what sets this camp apart from other Great Northwest Camps, according to Hughes.

"Many of the kids reported that their favorite parts of the camp were the extra, non-running activities that we wove into the schedule," he said. "With all the right people working hard to make the camp work, we look forward to an even more successful camp next year."

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