Runners descend into the first mud paths of the day at the Dirty Poker 5K run Saturday morning at the Mount Emily Recreation Area. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Heading into the inaugural Dirty Poker Run, organizers of the event were unsure of what to expect.
As it turned out, their expectations were exceeded with a solid gathering of running enthusiasts.
On Saturday morning, the first annual race was held at the Mount Emily Recreation Area, with the starting and finish lines at the Owsley Canyon Trailhead. Runners were offered a chance to enter into either the 5k or 10k race.
There were 16 competitors in the 10k race, which utilized the terrain of MERA for a demanding setup. The race also featured elevation changes of 1,400 vertical feet that kept the racers huffing and puffing.
“It was a great turnout in the 10k for the first year,” Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristen Dollarhide said. “The course being offroad, it was a little bit challenging with changes in altitudes, but was still a great course. It had its hill climbs and some downhill parts as well. I think people really enjoyed it.”
A familiar name to local running fans ended up coming in first in the 10K. La Grande High School’s Elliot Jonasson, who finished 14th and 13th, respectively, in the last two Class 4A track and field state championships in the 3,000-meter races, won with a time of 49 minutes, 30 seconds.
The Tiger senior-to-be was happy with his time.
“For running on trails, it was pretty good,” he said.
He added that out that the course he and the other runners traversed presented some difficult moments, but still thought it was fun. Jonasson also finished seventh in the 5,000 meters at the Greater Oregon League cross-country district championships a year ago.
Tim Vanderlugt was runner-up to Jonasson with a time of 50:44, while Max Beach came in third at 53:58. The trio at the top were the only runners to finish in less than an hour. The 10K race required two laps of the course, while the 5K did a single lap.
About 40 people, either as a group or as a “lone buffalo” competed in the 5K, which was not timed.
For the full story, see Monday's issue of The Observer