It's here, the PPP!
In the elite men's category, 3-time winner Marshall Greene has to be the odds on favorite. He will be chased by the usual pack of X-C Oregon athletes, plus Torin Koos and Lars Flora, a couple of U.S. Ski Team ringers in town for a training camp, but Marshall is the safe bet.
The elite women's category, however, is a different story with three former champions vying for this year's title. Sarah Max, the defending champion, will be trying to fend off 2002 winner Mary Wellington and 2003 winner Muffy Roy. I know it's a bold bet, but my money's on Muffy. Sarah and Mary have youth on their side, but you can never underestimate 48-year-old Muffy (who also won in 1994). She is the only one who went head to head with 5-time winner Suzanne King to win. Plus, she was spotted buying a pair of 5-ounce racing flats at the Footzone a couple of days ago. Muffy's daughter Zoe is also competing, but I don't think the torch will be passed just yet.
This year, Suzanne is pairing up with perpetual podium finisher Molly Grove, which makes King of Groove the favorite in the female pairs category. In the males pairs, I'm betting on a repeat by Team Guy (Eric Martin and Paul Parsons) which turned in the fastest time overall on the course last year. In co-ed pairs, my pick is Der Mann und seine Frau (Amy Petersen and her husband Brad Bond), but that's just a guess. I'd like to send special good wishes to the Dangerous Duo, the women's pair of Cara Walther and Chris Vergona- my surgeon and my phyiscal therapist- who made it possible for me to get to the start line this year.
As for teams, it's hard to know what hard-core recruitment tactics and last-minute, behind-closed-door negotiations are going on, so mostly I have to base my predictions on team names on the PPP start list. (Though I do know that the Down & Dirty Girls, perennial women's team winner, will get a run for their money from Tutu-Licious this year.)
If success is based upon nutritional strategy, my picks are:
1. Fueled by SPAM
3. Bangers & Mash Reunited
If attitude rules, the mugs go to:
1. The Next Olympians
3. Mugs are 4 Wussies
And if avoiding overtraining is key, I'm going with:
1. Slouches Off Couches
2. Wii Not Fit
3. Training is for Bored People
I'd also add a few new categories.
Team you don't want to get passed by:
1. Flabby Chickens
2. Unidentified Old People
3. Burp Toot and Slurp
Would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when they came up with the name:
1. Stench Goose Charge, Stench Goose Posse and Stench Goose Attack
2. Who Stole My Friggin Kidney?
3. 40% Gnome 60% Man
Finally, best team to party with afterwards:
1. Whiskey Militia
3. Kegger at Luke's tonight 1365 NW Galveston
Just to fuel your pre-race nightmares, I thought I'd talk about everything that can go wrong at PPP. Crashes on the downhill ski. Bad wax. Support crew MIA with your running shoes at the bike/run transition. Teammate MIA at a handoff. Leaky boats. But true champions overcome adversity. One year, 8-time winner Justin Wadsworth had a binding pre-release on his downhill skis at 50 mph (if you know Justin, it was probably faster than that). He crashed and broke his thumb, but he managed to recover, finish the race and keep his winning streak alive.
Yes, you could break your chain at PPP, too, but I just wanted to send kudos to WebCyclery on the Cascade Chainbreaker mountain bike race on Mother's Day this past weekend. It looked like a huge success, with riders coming from all over the Northwest. The weather was stellar, the course was in great shape, there was a category for everybody (even the little kids, which was a treat for the Moms in the pack) and all riders had dirt eatin' grins on their faces. Next up will be Sunnyside's Pickett's Charge on June 7th. Visit www.sunnysidesports.com for more information.