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425 and counting…

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

July 27, 2005

The Hood River stairs are a notorious, thigh-burning, calf-attacking 425 steps from State Street to Montello Avenue. Jason Wang made it up in just over two minutes on Saturday morning to win the Hood River Stair Climb Challenge.

Fast behind Wang, who was last year’s second place finisher, was Tao Berman in second and Lindsay Carswell in third.

Gathered around the Overlook Memorial Park fountain in the Saturday morning sunshine, 44 runners turned out for the second annual event. Cheering for one another at the starting line, climbers charged fast up the first staircase by the Brick Stratton Memorial Park.

The burn kicks in at about Sherman Street, and for the couple-hundred final steps, racers faces twisted fast from smiling to grueling— and back to smiling at the top.

After their one-time climb up, red-faced runners walked down, splashed themselves with cool water from the fountain, and cheered on the rest of the competitors with a small crowd of pleasantly surprised passers-by.

“It went super,” event founder Mark Brown said. “Of course we would have liked to have have more people, but those that were there were excited and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.”

Brown started the Hood River Stair Climb as a Gorge Games event. “I wanted to have an event in town that anyone could enter and become part of the Gorge Games.”

Although the Gorge Games are no longer, Brown kept the event alive with the help of a few local sponsors. Proceeds from this year’s stair climb will be donated to the Helping Hands program.

“The bottom line is, it wouldn’t have happened without sponsors stepping up to not only provide prizes but also help run the event. Thanks to Karen and Brian Shortt from Shortt Supply, Cindy and Hood River Physical Therapy, Northwest Graphic Works, and Greg Colt at Colt Realty Group.”

“That was my first time up the stairs and I didn’t know how long it was. I’ll win it next year,” Berman said, challenging Wang’s reign at the top.

And Berman will have his second chance, because, according to Brown, “We’ll definitely have it again next year.”

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