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Outside » Outside Features

Choose Your Own Adventure

Raft, run, climb: Smith Rock Spring Sting

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"We were in Colorado at a Yoga Journal conference in the mountains in 2005," Jason Magness said about founding YogaSlackers with his friend Sam Salwei. At the time, the two were teaching yoga and slacklining—the tricky sport of walking and balancing on a bouncy rope. He continued, "People started to ask about the whole package together."

That eureka moment—to combine two vaguely related activities—has been the cornerstone for the past several years for Magness and his buddy Salwei. Since then, they have been teaching the combined practice of slacklining and yoga all over the world, and a few years ago, they relocated to Central Oregon. Since then, they have gone about crafting races that blend running, biking and boating. On Sunday, they host the third installment of the Smith Rock Spring Sting, a 6-hour adventure race.

The competition is a mishmosh of outdoor activities—traversing trails on foot and on bike, and taking to the water in a raft. If you're remotely fit, Magness said, finishing the race won't be a problem. Finishing quickly, though, is a whole other proposition.

"The course is different every year. It's a paramount point of the sport (that) there are very few route-travel rules," Magness said. "It's a lot of choose your own adventure."

Participants either undertake the race as a solo participant or as part of a four-person team. Each option, Magness said, presents different challenges. Working in a group, competitors are likely to encounter pushback from a teammate while trying to figure out how to navigate a particular portion of the course. (We've all seen "The Amazing Race" or "Survivor" episodes enough to know that group-think doesn't always mean many minds are better than one.) While going alone, a racer has limited resources.

Magness and YogaSlackers haven't run into any trouble setting the course in the state park, but he said that holding the Spring Sting at Smith Rock has required being meticulous about safety; racers are required to carry safety equipment like blankets and rain shells.

The Spring Sting has grown in each of its three years, up to nearly 85 participants in 2013. Magness said he intends to keep the number of racers under 100, based both on restrictions from the park, as well as a desire to make certain that land in the park isn't accidentally damaged.

YogaSlackers, in addition to hosting this upcoming race, organizes a few other events each year, including a 12-hour mountain bike race and 6-hour run on the Maston Trail near Redmond (set for next week), and a 100-mile mountain bike race with an accompanying 50-mile run in August.

"Most people get into it for the challenge, but also the experience," Magness said about the upcoming race and other events YogaSlackers organizes. "But there is a professional circuit and a world championship. At that level, people who are racing are really strong athletes and competitors ... People do their first races just to finish, just to overcome the obstacles."

Smith Rock Spring Sting

Sun., 7 am.

Smith Rock State Park, Terrebonne

Solo, $80; Two-person team, $150; Three-person team, $225; Four-person team, $300

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