MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

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July 13, 2014

A rocky adventure: Banged-up Oklahoma City man survives Port to Fort course to win

The words Ryan Ellis’ wife spoke to him as he departed for the fourth annual Port to Fort Adventure Race came ringing back in his ears Saturday.

“She just said ‘don’t get hurt,’” he said, after spending some time with an ice pack on his skinned up left shoulder.

No pain, no gain though as the Oklahoma City man won the 20-mile long-course race which started and finished at Three Forks Harbor.

He survived a harbor swim and getting off course on the run portion through Fort Gibson. But on a mountain bike trail that followed the Jean Pierre Chouteau National trail along the Verdigris River to the shale landing area beneath the Okay bridge — a 7 1/2 mile long course stretch that contestants said offered the toughest challenge on the course — he found trouble.

“It was super hard — a lot of getting off the bike and going up hills and over bridges,” Ellis said. “I got out on a gravel road and was going as fast as I could and a turn came up on me. I locked the brakes and went over the handle bars.

“I landed in the middle of the gravel. My shoulder is messed up pretty bad. Hurts like crazy.”

Yet he was able to hold on for the eight-mile stretch in a kayak to the finish line, digging down for some of the Iron Man guts from events he does during the spring and summer months.

“It just took a little longer, but the shoulder definitely didn’t make it any easier,” he said.

Ellis, who later this year will compete at the ITU World Triathlon finals in Edmonton, Alberta, in August, finished in 3 hours, 3 minutes, 43.3 seconds and beat Clay Turner of Eufaula by 16 minutes.

Turner, who had won the last two short-course (10-mile) races in this event, finished in 3:19:38.9.

“I’m not a cyclist and so next time, I think I’ll go back to the short one,” he said. “It’s real technical and mud holes are every 30 yards and there’s places where the trail will make a turn and you’re not sure what to expect. But I ran a good time.”

Matthew Goodmiller of Checotah was third in 3:33.03.7. Fourth went to Jody Moore of Muskogee in 3:38:16.0.

Life Lifts and D Snaps, made up of Kevin Dux, a Muskogee podiatrist, along with Travis Cushman of Tulsa and Zach LaPenta of Oklahoma City, won the three-man team event on the long course.

“Travis and I are both mountain bikers but we lost a bike at 2 1/2 miles so we had to run with it for the last 3 1/2 miles of it,” said Dux.

No female competed as an individual or team on the long course. One competed one the Fire Breathing  Cobras trio of John Burkart, Candice Burkhart and Lane Burkart, all of Tahlequah, who finished in 4:30:56:1 in competition with just one other coed team.

The short course didn’t have the treacherous mountain bike portion. Steve Hardy of Fort Gibson won on the men’s side in  2:06:50.2 while Tracy Hill of Muskogee was the top female in 2:39:29.9.

It was the first adventure race for both.

“It was quite an adventure for sure,” Hardy said. “I think I was first out of the water but got caught in the transition area but caught the guy on the trail. It was much further than I thought it would be. I’ve run four or five 5Ks before.”

Hill overcame a tough swim.

“I was a little winded. It caught me off-guard,” she said. “After that it was the mud and ropes and I stayed steady and it was all good.”

VO2 The Max, consisting of Gage Hyams and Jeff Hyams of Tahlequah and Darin Parks of Fort Gibson, won the men’s short course race in 1:41:39:3. They caught I Don’t Believe That We Will Win out of Hulbert in the canoe portion and won by 14 seconds.

It was the winners’ first time as a group. Jeff Hyams was with a trio that won the event two years ago.

“We didn’t do as good on the run as we got cramps, but we pushed through on the canoe and caught them and tried to get enough distance where they couldn’t catch up,” said Gage Hyams. “The odd thing about that is we’re all runners, so we thought that wouldn’t be a problem.”

Got the Runs, consisting of Kent Bray, Chelsea Jones and Drew McGuire, all of Tulsa, won  the short course coed race in 1:42:19.6.

Buns on the Run gave Muskogee a win in the women’s short course. Shannon George, Stacy Hogle and Caitlin Himes combined for the victory in  2:04:25.9.

“After the half-mile swim, we had to pick them off one by one,” George said.

In all, 165 participated in the event.

 

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