July 27, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Race for the Deschutes

July 27, 2010
July 27, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Race for the Deschutes

Race for the Deschutes

2-, 4-legged friends of the river are invited to celebrate, compete at a new event to benefit the Deschutes River Conservancy

By David Jasper / The Bulletin

Published: July 27. 2010 4:00AM PST

If you go
What: Race for the River
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 7
Where: Deschutes River from Riverbend Park to Les Schwab Amphitheater
Cost: Free for spectators, $15 for racers, $20 to race with dog
Contact: 541-382-4077 or www.deschutesriver.org

The Deschutes River Conservancy’s mission is to “restore stream flow and improve water quality in the Deschutes Basin,” says Bea Armstrong, director of development and communications for the Bend nonprofit.

That’s a “very technical” purpose, she says. “People don’t often understand why stream flow and water quality are so important.”

At Race for the River, a new event the conservancy will hold Aug. 7, the mission is fun.

The conservancy, founded in 1996, is “trying to distill our very technical message through very fun, community-oriented events that get people out on the river and just engaged in the natural resources in our area,” Armstrong explains.

“So many people moved here because of the quality of life and because of the Deschutes River; it is a main focal point in all of Central Oregon, but I think people don’t often understand that during certain times of the year, certain areas of our river are really struggling.”

With multiple categories, the philosophy behind the race seems to be this: If it floats, you can race it.

Race for the River will feature a 700-meter open swim, along with kayak, stand-up paddle, canoe, raft and floaties — yes, those inflatable arm bands — races. The cost is $15 per competitor, or $50 for corporate teams of five or six individuals.

This being Bend, if your pooch has a competitive streak, he or she is also welcome to participate for an additional $5.

Each category is open to dogs, which may swim (dog paddling is the preferred stroke) alongside crafts or ride inside. To keep everyone safe, racers and their dogs will participate in a separate heat from those unaccompanied by competitive canines.

Races will begin at Riverbend Park and head downstream toward Les Schwab Amphitheater. Those in craft 10 feet or longer must have a $7 annual Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit, available at REI or www.dfw.state.or.us.

All competitors, including dogs, must wear personal flotation devices. Each competitor racing with a dog will receive a Ruff Wear Float Coat, a personal flotation device for dogs. It normally sells for $50.

Of course, the river isn’t all about the sporting life. It’s also about recreation. To that end, Race for the River will also include food and drink vendors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and live music by Little Fish and Brent Alan & His Funky Friends. The fun will happen in the area between Anthony’s Restaurant and The Gap, next to the footbridge in the Old Mill District.

The Deschutes River Conservancy, High Desert Museum and other organizations will also have interactive kids’ booths set up. Deschutes Brewery has brewed a beer just for this occasion: Race for the River Ale. Proceeds from sales of the beer will go to the Deschutes River Conservancy.

Sporting events and races may seem “a dime a dozen in Bend right now,” but such events drive the economy here, says Armstrong.

“People come to Central Oregon to recreate,” she says. “We’re branded as a place where people know they can come and do multiple sports throughout the day. And a lot of those sports involve the river.

“Whether you’re biking along the river trail, running along the river trail, kayaking or fishing, this river is a very important piece of our economy here in Bend. And we need to do everything that we can do to make sure that the river is healthy and it’s here for generations to come.”

The conservancy’s ambition is to make the event annual. Armstrong says organizers hope Race for the River will become popular among community members.

“This is truly a fun event to get people engaged in learning about the river and having fun with our community on the river,” Armstrong says. “People are doing that daily in the summer, anyway; they’re out there floating the river.

“Every year in August, we want people to go, ‘Oh, this is the day that we go down to the river to celebrate this tremendous resource that we have here in Central Oregon.’ ”

David Jasper can be reached at 541-383-0349 or djasper@bendbulletin.com.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010


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