Bits 'n; Pieces: Run jogs loose idea for medal
Friday, July 20, 2012
Appropriately enough, the notion came to Elba Benzler while he was running.
Benzler was thinking ahead to Sunday's Battle Ground Harvest Days Run. He was thinking about a medal: not earning it, but designing it. Benzler, event director for the race, wanted to add a local touch to this year's medal.
Benzler has seen plenty of medals with such generic running symbols as winged feet. This time, he wanted to put a face on the race.
"A few months ago, I was running and thinking about the 2012 Harvest Days Run," Benzler said in an email. "The finisher medals came to mind. I didn't think last year's medals were bad, but they could be better. What, though?
"And within moments, a thought came to me. 'Battle Ground.' It's the battle that never happened. This is an interesting story about our history, and I love history," Benzler said.
Benzler, along with Karen King of Battle Ground, created Get Bold Events, a nonprofit, to organize fundraising athletic events.
The city owes its name to an encounter between U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Vancouver and a band of Indians who lived in an encampment near the fort. In 1855, Chief Umtuch led a group from the encampment and headed for the Cascade Mountains to the east.
Capt. William Strong led a militia force that caught up with the Indians. After lengthy negotiations, the Indians agreed to return to the encampment. There are different versions of what happened next, Benzler said. Even though a battle was avoided, shots were fired and Chief Umtuch was killed.
The Indians were given time to bury their slain leader before returning to the fort. Settlers named the area Strong's Battle Ground; some historians say they were mocking the captain for his peaceful approach to the standoff.
The story led Benzler on a search for images of the two leaders. He was able to find just one photograph of Strong, taken later in his life and well after his military service.
It's unlikely that Chief Umtuch was ever photographed, Benzler said. But he has some thoughts on how the tribal leader can be represented on the 2013 Harvest Days Run medal.
After that, he said, organizers can "involve the runners and community to help us find photos of our history in north Clark County, said Benzler, who can be reached at http://www.getboldevents.com/.
"These medals would actually mean something to the runners."-- Tom Vogt
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