Our (relatively) new Methow Valley District Ranger Chris Furr hit the ground running — figurately — in the middle of fire season last year, and he’s been running — literally — ever since. So if you’ve glimpsed him out running on the trails recently, you’re correct. Chris has been doing some long runs lately, including completing a marathon in Missoula at the end of June and training for a charity run in the Hood to Coast Relay in late August.
The Hood to Coast Relay began in 1982 with eight teams of 10 runners, and since then has grown to 1,050 teams of 12 runners, totaling 12,600 runners and 3,600 support volunteers! Teams begin at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, and finish 199 miles later in Seaside, Oregon. The race has 36 legs, with each runner on a team taking three non-consecutive legs that add up to about 15 miles each. “It’s not that crazy of an athletic feat,” says Chris, “but the 12 runners are split into two vans, and there’s a driver for each van, so it’s quite a logistical marvel!”
This will be Chris’ third time in the race, running for the World Vision team “Running for Their Lives.” Running for a charity in this race means raising money to support a specific cause: in this case, providing access to clean water in places with water and sanitation crises through the NGO World Vision.
Running for Team World Vision has been rewarding, Chris says. He’s inspired by fellow runner, Olympic athlete, and former “lost boy of Sudan” Lopez Lomong, who also runs to benefit refugees and clean water through World Vision. (They’re on different teams.)
“It feels great to be helping make other people’s lives better,” Chris says. “We need positive energy in the world right now. It’s incredible to spend time with people like Lopez, who have a truly positive influence in the world. I’m honored to be a part of this.” Chris also mentions fellow World Vision decathlete Ashton Eaton as inspirational. (Again, different teams.)
Chris was a high school and college athlete, and took up running about eight years ago, when he lived in Taos, New Mexico. “Taos was a beautiful place to get outside and get some exercise,” he says. “And the simplicity of running is appealing. You just need some shoes and the motivation get out the door.”
Running in the Methow Valley has allowed Chris to explore the area a bit. “I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of being in the valley,” he says. Chris ran the Sunflower Half Marathon in the valley in May, and is registered for the Cutthroat Classic in mid-September.
Chris is fully aware that the late August Hood to Coast could be smack in the middle of fire season. (Or — and I’m not trying to jinx anything here — it could be smack in the middle of a beautifully cool late August like the late Augusts of yore…) In any case, Chris is reassured that even if he is in Oregon running for a couple of days, other agency administrators will be covering for him in the Methow Valley. “We work with each other to schedule time off and back each other up,” he says. “Someone will be here in my place.”