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Jesse Thomas, Zoe Roy win 44th SELCO Pole Pedal Paddle as thousands celebrate race’s return

'I think it's one of the best events in Bend,' new volunteer says

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The SELCO Pole Pedal Paddle made its much-welcomed comeback Saturday, to the cheers and smiles of many Central Oregonians and visitors, after two canceled years due to COVID-19.

Bend's signature sporting event is a six-stage multi-sport race involving skiing, running and kayaking, with individuals and teams starting at Mount Bachelor and ending at the westside of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District.

With the event being so challenging, especially for those finishing the whole route as individuals, there can be some obstacles along the way -- something third-place finisher Marshall Greene knows that all too well, after Saturday's mishap.

"I was in the lead, got on my bike -- and then pretty quick in the bike (leg), I was going to get a drink out of my water bottle and wasn’t looking, ran into a pothole and flatted (a tire)," Greene said afterward.

"So (I) ended up going back to the parking lot, going back to my car and getting a different wheel. and basically starting the whole bike (leg) the second time around," Greene said. "So, lost a few minutes, maybe a couple more than that.”

We asked first-place finisher Jesse Thomas, winning his third PPP, what this event means to him.

"It means a lot," Thomas said. "I was born and raised here in Bend. I saw guys like Justin Wadsworth win a whole bunch, and guys like Marshall Greene win a whole bunch. I always admired the people who have run this race and thought it was a really important and cool part of the community.”

Meanwhile, Zoe Roy captured a record fifth straight women's win. You can find the full race results here.

There were about 2,000 participant, competing as teams and individuals, while supporters were on the sidelines yelling, cheering and ringing their bells, encouraging the racers to push through to the finish.

The first racers to finish were surrounded by people congratulating them and asking how they prevailed.

Many vendors were on hand in support of the event. There were tents with kayaks, paddle boards, Nitro cold brew coffee and PPP merchandise.

Christy Hunter said it was her first time volunteering at Pole Pedal Paddle.

"I think it's one of the best events in Bend," she said. "It brings out the community, and there's a lot of support for the teams, the runners -- it's just neat to see."

The Selco PPP is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation.

Race Director Molly Cogswell-Kelley recalled the disappointment about canceling the last two years' races, and how glad she and all involved were to see it return to the Bend scene.

"It means so much, and it means so much to our organization," Cogswell-Kelley said. "It brings so many people together from our organization, from the community. It brings our community together. Even if you're not racing, you know someone in it."

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.

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