The Siskiyou Challenge is a fundraiser for RVF2S - how does this event align with connecting communities to healthy, local food?
The goal of the Siskiyou Challenge is to help our community "race towards a stronger food system" by encouraging folks to live a healthy lifestyle - including by being physically fit and by eating more local farm-fresh foods. This year, we're excited to launch a health and fitness expo, based at ScienceWorks on race day, to feature all that southern Oregon has to offer in regards to fitness, food, and overall wellness. Booths (including RVF2S!) will feature hands-on activities for the whole family! Plus, funds raised from racer registrations and sponsorships directly support farm, garden, and cafeteria programs throughout the Rogue Valley.
The race is six legs and spans 46 miles - should folks have an advanced racing background or can beginners participate?
The Siskiyou Challenge is for everyone regardless of age or ability! Racers can compete on a team of 2-6 people or do the entire 46-mile challenge solo. In the weeks leading up to the race, we do host practice trials for several legs, including Leg 5: the mountain bike course. We want everyone to feel prepared, so if possible, we do recommend riding or running the route(s) prior to race day. It's also important to remember that the weather can be unpredictable and the race is on rain or shine. As with any physical exertion, if you have any concerns, confirm with your physician that it's a safe choice first!
Of all of the athletic races in the region, what makes this event stand out?
We have some amazing athletic events in the Rogue Valley and in Oregon, but what makes the Siskiyou Challenge stand out is how much of the beautiful city of Ashland racers get to experience throughout the race course. The event kicks off at ScienceWorks Museum, where road cyclists follow a portion of the Cascade Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway, en route to Emigrant Lake. There, kayakers and paddlers await them for a 3k lap through an oasis tucked amongst the hills of Ashland. Leg 3 leads cyclists on a 30k tour through farms and orchards of our community, tagging the next racers in at Lithia Park. Runners and mountain bikers alike will love the thrill and skill of racing through the famous trails of our watershed, the epicenter of legs 4 and 5. The final leg leads runners through a victorious lap through town back to ScienceWorks, where a party awaits all competitors and spectators. There, we'll have live music by local favorite The Brothers Reed, plus Commonblock Brewing beer. Racers even receive a swag bag with a value of over $50. Ultimately, the most important part of this race is that it supports the great work that Rogue Valley Farm to School does in our community to bring healthy local foods to schools.
What developments do you have planned for the future of the race?
Although this is the first year of our health and fitness expo, we are excited about growing this aspect of the event to truly highlight the incredible outdoor recreation opportunities right in our backyard. Our goal is to showcase to folks the many apparel and gear manufacturers, outfitters, activity clubs, and stewardship organizations that promote new ways to get outside and play. We hope to grow this race every year and to get more participants to come to Ashland to see everything we have to offer, including lakes, mountains, trail running, mountain biking, craft beer, craft coffee, culinary experiences, and world-class theater.
Coordinating the Siskiyou Challenge, as big of a responsibility as it is, is not your only role within RVF2S. How else do you serve the organization?
Yes, coordinating the Siskiyou Challenge is a big feat and it is our biggest fundraiser of the year, but the main reason I work for RVF2S is because I believe in the mission and the great work that we are doing to connect local food producers to school districts in southern Oregon. As the Farm to Cafeteria Coordinator, I work directly with farmers and food service directors to help bridge these relationships; this includes helping farmers crop plan to grow specifically for our districts, as well as helping the districts know that they have local options when planning lunch menus. It's truly amazing to see the impact of children learning where their food comes from; farm to cafeteria helps create opportunities for students to branch out and try foods that they may not be introduced to at home which is frankly life changing. We're proud to be serving as the food hub for procurement and education to southern Oregon in conjunction with the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network.
Are there ways to support the race off of the race course?
Certainly! We have sponsorship opportunities for businesses that want to market their business while supporting the Siskiyou Challenge and the work we are doing at RVF2S. Businesses can even get involved by building their own team or sponsoring a youth team to race. Additionally, you can join us on the days leading up to the race or on race day itself as a volunteer! The race would not be possible without the support of dedicated individuals who gift us their time. Please contact me if you are interested in sponsorship, would like to build a corporate team, or have the time to volunteer with the race!
Contact Greg by email or phone at (541) 631-8841 with any questions!