Port Gamble Northwest Adventures Sports Festival draws 400 visitors

The third Northwest Adventure Sports Festival combined beauty and brawn

By Johnny Walker

PORT GAMBLE — When John Kuntz of the Olympic Outdoor Center wanted to encourage an appreciation for North Kitsap recreational resources, he appealed to regional sports enthusiasts who wanted to release their inner beast.

In response to his vision, visitors arrived by the hundreds June 9-10 to not just explore the great outdoors but to share an adventure they could remember for a lifetime.

In spectacular weather and calm waters, the third annual Northwest Adventure Sports Festival attracted more than 400 visitors of all ages for mountain biking, kayaking, trail running and other outdoor activities that drew in attendance from as far away as Lewiston, Idaho and Portland, Ore.

Intense competitions featured a pair of adventure triathlons called the Full and Mini-Beast, setting the ultimate stage in North Kitsap to experience outdoor sports in a location unlike others in the Northwest.

“I love this place, but it was also the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Lewiston resident Caleb Orr said.

It was Orr’s first trip to the Kitsap Peninsula and he had just completed the final 10K trail-running leg of the men’s Full-BEAST relay, bringing his team to a first place finish. Beaming proudly, teammates and old college buddies Christopher Pitts of Portland and Jared Tikker of Spokane greeted Orr at the finish line.

Pitt’s contribution to the team was the first triathlon leg, a 15K kayak route navigating Hood Canal from Port Gamble — with the tide north to Driftwood Key, fighting the cross current to Hood’s Head and then against the tide back to Port Gamble. This left Tikker with the muddy mountain bike leg of 20K through difficult and often steep woodland terrain.

The team finished with the top relay time in their division of 3:31:07.

“This is definitely worth coming back for,” Pitts said.

Finishing a mere 45 seconds before Orr, U.S. Air Force athlete Ryan Alsch of Airway Heights finished first place overall in the individual men’s division in 3:31:53.

The overall team relay winners for the Full-Beast were Woodinville’s John Milliken, with teammates Bruce Knowlton and Ed Anderson in a time of 3.08:24.

According to triathlon records, seven individual athletes and seven teams completed the arduous Full-Beast course.

The Mini-BEAST triathlon fielded a larger contingent of 33 individual athletes and nine teams. The demanding but shorter race consisted of a 5K paddle leg, 10K mountain bike leg, and a 5K trail run.

Taking the overall Mini-Beast men’s division for individual athletes was Tracy Clapp of Duvall, completing the race in an impressive 1.47:40.

Aubrey Rosenthal, also from Duvall, was the women’s individual winner with a time of 2.03:11.

Mini-Beast overall team relay winners were Kim and Chris Clark from Forks, along with Seattle’s Erin Hale, formerly of Silverdale, who completed the course in 2.03:00.

No injuries occurred during any of the activities, though one kayak capsized and did not complete the race. Race coordinators and safety boats were on hand to monitor the progress of participants. Both triathlons started and finished on the Port Gamble waterfront.

According to Kuntz, the goal of the sports festival is to bring people in Kitsap County together to promote the picturesque and rural setting of North Kitsap’s recreational resources. Considering that the turnout for the 2011 festival was only a few hundred due to inclement weather, Kuntz appreciated the big rebound this year.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout this year,” Kuntz said. “We had a great showing of stand-up paddle boards, and I’ve received a lot of good feedback from the participants. As I think about the future, this is a young event and we hope to keep it going for years to come.”

Shop Manager Forrest Wells emphasized how the sports festival educated outdoor enthusiasts through seminars and demonstrations.

“As we get more shops involved, the festival will get people to explore and cross pollinate outdoor sports in ways they may not have done before,” Wells said. A variety of vendors were on hand to demonstrate cutting edge recreational equipment and conduct seminars.

“We want to identify new characteristics and add something to the festival every season,” Kuntz said. “We’re thinking about adding road biking next year.”