Peterson a one-man dynasty

For the past five years, one local racing enthusiast has made his name synonymous with first-place finishes.

Reider Peterson, 68, of Ashland capped off his fifth straight age-group victory at the 31st-annual "Pole Pedal Paddle" race in Bend.

After pouring a full-body effort into 36 miles, the city resident of 32 years crossed the finish line with a refreshing discovery.

"I felt really good," said Peterson, who finished the race in about 2 hours, 36 minutes, nearly 20 minutes faster than the second-place finisher in the 65 to 69 age group. "I felt so good that I told myself that I should have gone faster," he added with a laugh.

But before Peterson could sit and reflect on his perennial dominance, the retired Southern Oregon University math professor of 26 years devoted two months of dedicated training before partaking in his 25th "PPP" race, which took place May 19.

"It's hard to train for all five legs of the race, but you have to run and you have to bike," said Peterson, who biked 23 miles and ran a combined six miles to complete three legs of the yearly event. "One year, I tried to just run and biking killed me, and vice versa the year after that."

The other two legs of the race were a two-mile paddle across the Deschutes River and a five-mile cross country course at Mount Bachelor.

"I have to do quite a bit of biking and running and keep with skiing as much as possible," said Peterson, adding that he will occasionally train for the paddling part of the race. "I try to do the roller skiing when I can't (downhill) ski.

"Most people train for one leg where I do it for all of them," said Peterson, whose age-group winning streak began in the 60 to 64 age category.

Training for all parts of the race has proved to be a worthwhile strategy. Of the 23 races he has finished, he has won 12. Peterson was unable to finish two races he entered because his wife was sick one year and he was sick another.

His best time during his current streak is two hours and 24 minutes, which is 10 minutes slower than his best time during his 25 years participating in the "PPP" race. He was 45 when he finished the race in two hours and 14 minutes.

Peterson said there is another factor to take into account with having a good time: the cognitive aspect.

"The race tests for memory," he said. "You have to look for landmarks because transitions (from one leg to the next) can be difficult. You have to try to outsmart everyone else."

Peterson said that part of his strategy consisted of using his cross country boots to put into the empty shell of his downhill skis. Once he put his boots into the shell, he would stuff the shell with Bubble Wrap to fill the gaps.

"For an individual, I call it a cross country nightmare," said Peterson, who would further explain his strategy, which hinged on this particular stage.

"It's important for me not to push myself in cross country because then it affects my biking and parts of the run," said Peterson, who said that cross country skiing is his most crucial stage because it is "why I do as well as I do.'"

The "PPP" race has always been an enjoyable race for Peterson, whose birthday happens to be around the date the event takes place.

"It became my birthday celebration," said Peterson, who has a daughter who lives in Bend and she waits for him at the finish line. "My whole family would come up, and they would do the race in teams. I would do it as an individual."

As for next year, Peterson said he is eager to finish off another age group because it is a time of year he looks forward to.

"I love the race," he said. "I really love it after I cross the finish line. And I really love it even more the next day."

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