| Gone Summering, July 1998|
Need a Little More?
Sporting diversions to keep you hopping from now till Labor Day
By Kimberly Lisagor
Mount Marathon Race, Seward, AK
Don't be fooled by the distance — only 3.4 miles — this race does indeed feel like a marathon. Runners head straight up the rocky, pathless 3,022-foot peak and then descend precipitously — and without much regard for skin, tendon, and bone — to the delight of 20,000 cheering fans. A 12-minute-mile average usually wins. Call 907-224-8051.
Whitewater Roundup, Payette, ID
Assuming you're not intimidated by sharing the river with your betters, this is clearly the place to polish your Eskimo roll. The kayak festival combines free clinics for beginner and intermediate paddlers with a chance to watch topflight practitioners in action. Their freestyle race will be held on Sunday. For details, contact Idaho River Sports (208-336-4844).
Grundig World Cup, Conyers, GA
The world's premier knobbyists will appear on American soil only once this summer, in a setting where the flashbacks should keep competitive fires burning: Georgia's International Horse Park, site of the cross-country event at the 1996 Olympics. Suffice it to say that those who didn't medal still have things to prove. The women race on Saturday, the men on Sunday. Call 515-942-6378.
Paragliding Nationals, Lakeview, OR
The competition rules may be mundane — you just have to fly the course fastest — but the atmospherics are incomparable. Watching nearly 100 paragliders float against the clear Northwest sky is a little like witnessing a regatta from beneath the sea, only warmer. Plus, egalitarianism rules: Though the event's raison d'Štre is the crowning of a new U.S. champion, some heats are open to novices. Call 919-480-3552.
Leadville Mosquito Marathon, Leadville, CO
Thankfully the name refers to a local geological landmark and not the insidious pest, since this happens to be one of the most spectacular marathon courses around, a snaking alpine route from the relative lowlands of Leadville (elevation 10,150) to the top of Mosquito Pass (13,186). Rest stations stock bananas, PowerBars, and, unobtrusively, oxygen masks. Entry fee $45. Call 800-933-3901.
G-Shock U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach, CA
Consider, if you will: SoCal sunshine, barely clad hardbodies, and the coolest of the cool doing things on moving walls of water that most of us can't do on land. This most venerable of surfing contests draws 250,000 spectators for reasons that are none too hard to fathom. Call 949-366-4584.
Camp Kemo River Race, Saluda River, SC
Maybe it'll take an inflatable Nessie pool toy. Or a clawfoot tub. Or maybe, just maybe, you can get your hands on 22 pairs of water wings. In this distinctly Huck Finn-like river race (entry fee, $25; 803-772-3050), winning isn't about speed — it's about style. One recent victor, for instance, rode a VW Microbus with barrels welded to its side.
Natural Chimney Jousting Championships, Mount Solon, VA
Despite the medieval main event, rest assured that you won't be cheek-to-jowl with soapaphobic Renaissance Fest types. Rather, this is the oldest continuously conducted sporting event in the United States: 177 years of people on horseback galloping at a row of rings, trying to hook them with their lances. Great fun, we've heard, so long as you keep the Python mimickry to a minimum. Call 540-350-2510.
Tour of Napa, CA
The perfect excuse to fill your CamelBak with vino, this noncompetitive century ride ($25; 707-226-7066) meanders over Mount Veeder, around Lake Hennessey, and for convenient refueling, past the Robert Sinskey and ZD wineries. Word to the wise: Do try to drink at least a little water along the way.
Waikiki Roughwater Swim, Honolulu, HI
Twelve hundred big-shouldered athletes end summer with a collective splash in the world's largest open-water race, held on a 2.4-mile course that carries competitors over coral reefs and past schools of dolphins and humumu fish. All in all, a pleasant little hourlong holoholo. Call 808-228-1350.
Illustration by Jason Schneider