Gorge Games back in action

Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge has been the playground of many hobbies for Oregonians, and now with the nationally televised Gorge Games, those hobbies have spread to others. This year’s 2002 Gorge Games will be held from July 13-21.

The games will feature eight different events this year, from trail running to kiteboarding. Several of the events are tentatively scheduled or “on call,” following the wind.

The games kick off this year with the Blowout event at Bob’s Beach in Stevenson, Wash. The Blowout, which is tentatively scheduled for July 13 and 14, takes windsurfers and kiteboarders 17 miles down the gorge to Hood River, the event site.

Registration is $25 per person and the deadline is July 8. The Blowout event is limited to the first 140 competitors who sign up.

The next event is the 10K and half marathon trail run on July 14. The costs of the event is $25 and offers several different categories. The men and women are broken up into five age categories; 24 and under, 25-29, 30-39, 40-40 and 50+. There is also a team race category that consists of three to five members and at least one woman.

“On call” for the 15-21 is the kiteboarding event, which has become one of the most popular sports for beginners as well as longtime windsurfers. The kiteboarders will ride on the first day of the Gorge Games in the Blowout event, but this second race will be the freestyle competition. There are only the two men’s and women’s categories for kiteboarding and several sports are already filled. The rest of the positions will be filled in the Expression Session held immediately before the freestyle event. The Expression Session cost $25 and $75 for freestyle.

Not only are the athletes competing for thrill, but also a large sum of cash. This year’s prize money for all eight events totals $200,000, which is double of last year. The first place prize amounts are equal for men and women, another change from previous years.

The largest of these is the $80,000 invested in the Adventure Race, which is scheduled for July 20 and 21. The first place coed team in the race will win $50,000; second place wins $15,000, $10,000 for third and $5,000 for fourth.

“The big money involved and an excellent event last year should guarantee a truly top level field and fierce competition in 2002,” Ian Adamson, captain of Team Eco-Internet, stated in a press release.

The other events total out the rest of the $120,000: $30,000 to Extreme Kayaking, $10,000 to H2H Kayaking, $20,000 a piece to Windsurfing, Kiteboarding, and Climbing, $12,000 to the 24-hour mountain biking, $6,000 to outrigger canoeing and $2,000 to the Blowout.

The Gorge Games bring in about 1,500 athletes from all over the world. Along with the large number of athletes are the 40,000 spectators that are usually drawn to the games as well. Not only can people come to see the world’s top athletes compete, but they can also take part in the spectator festival in the Adventure Village. The festival consists of film screenings, educational clinics and other exhibitions. There are a variety of clinics offered at the festival from climbing walls and tying ropes to learning how to kayak in the “kayak roll tank.” For more event information visit www.gorgegames.com or call 1-866-GORGE-01.