PORT ANGELES—Back for the second year after an 11-year hiatus, Saturday’s four-event Big Hurt race will test the physical endurance and pain thresholds of competitors through a combination of downhill mountain biking, kayaking, road cycling and running.
Individuals in the Iron Division and relay teams will begin on mountain bikes and ride 16.5 miles on logging roads, single-track trails and pavement before reaching West End Park in downtown Port Angeles.
From the beach participants will kayak 3 miles, embark on a 30-mile road bike journey and endure a 10-kilometer run along the scenic Olympic Discovery Trail.
Following the event and award ceremony, participants and the general public are invited to enjoy live music, a beer garden hosted by Red Lion Hotel at the “Hub” of the event, located at West End Park at the intersection of Oak Street and Railroad Avenue.
This year marks the second annual edition of the revived Big Hurt, a race that ran from 1997-2004.
The race quickly grew in that time from 65 to nearly 600 participants and was widely embraced by the communities of the Olympic Peninsula, as well as visitors.
“Big Hurt was an iconic local event when I first moved to Port Angeles in 2002, but before I got a chance to participate, the event ended,” said Lorrie Mittmann, Big Hurt co-organizer.
“Over the years many local athletes have described how great it was, and they mentioned to me that they would like to see it return… . When I got the opportunity to work with Tim [Tucker] and Scott [Tucker], I was energized because I knew we could do it and the community would support us.”
The event is not for the faint of heart, or the unathletic.
“It’s a tough event,” competitor Mitch McDougall said.
“But it’s really community-minded.”
McDougall, a lifelong resident of the North Olympic Peninsula, has competed in endurance events for 23 years and has participated in nearly every Big Hurt, since the race’s inception in 1997.
McDougall started his relationship with extreme sports on mountain bike at age 16.
This passion later led to road biking and freshwater kayaking.
“Too many big jumps and waterfalls” eventually took their toll on McDougall, requiring back surgery to address a severe injury, he said.
Since his surgery three and a half years ago, McDougall has been on a long road to recovery, but is thrilled to be conditioning to participate in this year’s Big Hurt as a solo competitor in four-leg Iron Division.
Recently, McDougall ran 3.5 miles, a large accomplishment at this point, he said.
McDoougall used to use the running stage to make up for lost time. Now, McDougall plans to alter his strategy because his left foot doesn’t maneuver quite like it did prior to his injury. Instead, McDougall hopes to recover some time during the cycling portion.
When it comes to being able to participate in an event like Big Hurt again, McDougall admits “the emotional part is more than the physical at this point.”
“I’m really excited,” he said.
“I have a different outlook on being able to do something like this now… . I think I’m probably going to enjoy it more.”
Beyond representing a major milestone in his own healing, McDougall notes the happiness it brings him to see Big Hurt return to the area.
“There’s an interesting camaraderie among people when they share in an event like this,” he said.
Gay Hunter, another devoted participant of Big Hurt agrees with McDougall, and also is looking forward to again participating in the event as an individual.
“Big Hurt showcases this area and involves all the things I love to do,” she said.
Older and perhaps less competitive than she once was, Hunter plans to “make a day of it,” she said. “It’s an accomplishment no matter what your time is.”
Despite the challenges Big Hurt poses, Hunter is encouraging of anyone wanting to get involved.
“It’s a very supportive and friendly atmosphere,” she said.
Coupled with ample community support, Mittmann and Tim Tucker and Scott Tucker are the primary forces behind the return of Big Hurt.
This year’s title sponsor is and Mittelstaedt Chiropractic and Massage.
“I would like to see the Big Hurt grow, but continue to have the local spirit that is has always had,” Tim Tucker said.
“The race highlights everything that is great about Port Angeles — it’s a community event through and through.”
A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Big Hurt will be donated to Peninsula Trails Coalition – the nonprofit organization devoted to the construction, maintenance and promotion of the Olympic Discovery and Olympic Adventure trails.
Registration for the event closes Friday.
To sign up, or for more information, visit bighurtpa.com.
[Published originally in the Peninsula Daily News.]