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They met the Challenge

53 teams took part in the Siskiyou Challenge, helping raise money for Farm to School program
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Gus Janeway of Ashland-based Velocity Cellars won first place in the male duo category with his brother Willie Janeway of Stuyvesant, N.Y.Dominic Barth
 Posted: 2:00 AM September 27, 2012

Fifty-three teams with one to six members set off Sept. 22, not so much to break race records on foot, bike or kayak, but to raise money for Rogue Valley Farm to School, an Ashland-based group that links local farmers with schools.

Through the program, students eat more locally produced food in cafeterias and take field trips to see how food is raised.

Saturday's third annual Siskiyou Challenge brought together people of all ages and athletic levels, from Olympic rower Steve Kiesling to cycling wine producer Gus Janeway of Velocity Cellars.

There was one solo-women's contender and one male duo, and tons of fun.

The multisport relay had six legs. Teams first road bikes eight miles from Lithia Park to Emigrant Lake. Competitors then raced a little under two miles in a flat-water kayak or on a paddleboard.

The third leg was almost 20 miles of cycling on scenic rural roads and through orchards from the lake back to Lithia Park. Runners then raced a 9K into the hills above the park, followed by mountain bikers riding nine miles and finally, members completed a 5K loop around the park.

Results are posted at

Teams could seriously watch the clock and have smooth handoffs, or they could stop worrying about where they placed and just enjoy the scenery.

Standing Stone Brewing Co. fielded four teams, including the women's team, Half Pints, who wore beer-motif jerseys. Other teams sported costumes, from green chicken to super heroes. There was even a kayak-suitable Hawaiian gown.

A 1.4-mile fun run attracted children and adults. The day's event had 256 racers.

"We feel like the Siskiyou Challenge thoroughly connects to the mission of our organization," says Tracy Harding, executive director of Rogue Valley Farm to School ( "Through it, we have found another way to raise funds to educate children about our local food systems and also introduce them to athleticism and the important lifestyle choices for better health."

Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or by email at

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