Joe Dudman started running road races as a sophomore in high school, circa 1980. Since that time he has accumulated over 540 race T-shirts (Yes, he finally got around to counting them!) Some of them evoke special memories and (hopefully) interesting stories. In this recurring series, he recounts some of them for Run Oregon readers.
As long time Run Oregon readers know, I have an ongoing project to run a race in every county in Oregon. The Beaver State has 36 counties, which range in population from the millions to a couple thousand, making finding a race much easier in some than in others. But the more distant, tiny races are often the most memorable, including this one, the Rugged River 5k outside the town of Monument (2000 population: 165!) in Grant County, which I ran in the summer of 1999. Chances are, the smaller races will have the coolest shirt designs too, and this one is a prime example.
Here is an excerpt from my original “Racing The Counties” post from spring, 2007:
I drove all day through rolling wheat fields and prairie on a succession of smaller and smaller highways, passing a rattlesnake coiled in the road, to run the Rugged River 5k, arriving in the tiny town of Monument in Grant County around 10:30 p.m. I slept in my sleeping bag in the school gym, along with several other runners, fending off mosquitos the size of sparrows. In the morning we rode out to the start along the John Day River in a school bus. As we stood around before the start, lightning struck a distant ridge top, starting a small brush fire. The town fire siren sounded in the distance, but the light rain from the small cloud soon put out the flames, and the race began. I was one of three people in the 5k. There were a few more participants in the accompanying duathlon, including one poor guy who DNFed after suffering 4 or 5 flat tires and returned, along with his bike in the “sag wagon” pick-up.
As a bonus, the race was part of the local Grasshopper Festival. This was one of the smallest races I’ve run, but one of the best adventures, and the shirt is surely a collector’s item!