By Scott Becker
With the recreational sports season in full swing, people from all over the Northwest are flocking to Hood River to take advantage of what this area has to offer.
The many opportunities to get outside all but discredit any
excuses for sleeping in, going to work, or sitting in front of a computer writing about sleeping in and going to work.
Summer is the time to step outdoors and experience the raging rapids, mountain bike trails and climbing pitches right in our own backyard.
But there are some people who have a fear of things like broken collar bones, drowning, concussions, the water in the Columbia River, road rash, giardia, malaria and so on.
They like to avoid the hospital, if at all possible, and prefer to take things more in stride.
For many, running can be an injury-effective alternative to “extreme” sports. And, like all sports, there is a learning curve.
Running can take a while for some people to get into, but if you look beyond the subtle dangers of the sport, like black toe nails, cramped arches and the occasional dog attack, you realize that most of the damage is mental.
Selective memory is a common syndrome runners face. They remember what they want to, not what actually happened.
When the Fourth of July rolls around, they sign up for the Joe Kollas Memorial Run because they remember leisurely cruising down 12th Street with a supportive parade crowd cheering them toward the finish line. They remember feeling fit and rewarded after rising to such a challenge. And that was fun.
What they choose not to remember is the grueling, mile-long uphill climb between Tucker Bridge and Orchard Road in the 90-degree heat.
The words, “I’ll never do that again,” never clawed their way out of the parched throat of a dehydrated runner. The sting of such an intense effort was short-lived, and the soreness only lasted about 10 seconds.
Scoring much higher on the sick-and-twisted scale, the Hood To Coast Relay continues to attract somewhat of a cult following.
Teams of 12 spend 18-28 hours together in a stuffy van in a seemingly arbitrary effort to relay their way from Timberline to Seaside. The days following are spent doing a distinctively funny walk that can only be caused by a combination of battered quads and massive crotch chafe.
The more addicted a person is, the faster the selective memory starts to sink in. For some, it starts by the end of the weekend. The memory of trying to find a place to sleep with a delirious navigator who has neither slept nor had a shower for 24 hours, no longer exists.
And they already have a check written out for next year.
If anyone claims that this problem does not apply to them, they are either in denial or they are not real runners.
There is little that can be done to help such people. If any signs can be recognized early, make sure that they get a mountain bike. Then, run.
Scott Becker began a summer internship with the Hood River News on June 18. He plans to run in the Gorge Games trail run and the Hood To Coast Relay this summer.