Community Sports Notebook: Hood to Coast is worth the pain

Wounded warriors find reward in the grueling relay race

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In the days following the Hood to Coast Relay, Chip Sell's calf muscles were protesting his dedication.

He figured he deserved the discomfort.

"I was not in as good of shape as last year, but I had just as much fun as I did last year," Sell said.

For the second year in a row, the Vancouver man was part of Team Warfighter Sports, a group of wounded veterans. In the 31st edition of the popular relay race from Mount Hood to the Pacific Ocean, Sell got through his three legs of the race. The 44-year-old helped his team reach the beach at Seaside, Ore., in 30 hours, 53 minutes, 15 seconds.

The team included a dozen wounded veterans from all around the United States. They overcame a variety of physical challenges, Sell said. All of them had some PTSD.

Sell was seriously injured in 2003 while serving in Iraq. He and his wife, Marnie, have lived in Vancouver for seven years and have become active with programs for disabled athletes and for service men and women returning from war. This week, Sell planned to lead a kayaking trip for wounded service members on Idaho's Salmon River.

The Hood to Coast team was part of Disabled Sports USA's Warfighter Sports program, which organizes events that help military members with permanent disabilities challenge themselves in sports from extreme and endurance activities to more recreational sports.

Sell enjoyed meeting fellow wounded vets, and interacting with Hood to Coast teams along the way. He said he was inspired by his teammates and by others along the road to Seaside. The most important result for Team Warfighter Sports was improving awareness of the challenges facing wounded warriors -- and demonstrating that sport is one avenue for war veterans to rebuild a connection with their community.

Sell — who still has shrapnel in one knee — ran the 5.1-mile 10th leg along the Springwater Trail in Southeast Portland, a difficult 7.8-mile 22nd leg in the Coast Range, and a 4-mile stage along Youngs River Road southeast of Astoria. Sell said his third run was more difficult than its moderate rating because fatigue took over.

"My calves are on fire. I pushed it and people helped push me," Sell said. "I wish I had little more to give at the end, but I'm proud to be able to run with such a fine group of people."

• Kickin' Asphalt, a team of runners from Skyview High School, placed fourth in the Portland to Coast High School Challenge.

Food drive is a winner

Nolan Henry had a pretty good night on Friday. In his first game as quarterback for the Union Titans, Henry completed 12 of his 18 passes for 100 yards in a win over Mountain View.

But, in terms of production, his bigger day was the preceding Saturday.

Henry, a high school sophomore, for a fourth year organized the Clark County Titans Youth Foundation and Clark County Youth Football Food Drive. Held in conduction with the annual CCYF Jamboree, this year's event collected 43,000 pounds of food for the Clark County Food Bank.

Henry said that 29 of the 53 participating CCYF teams collected at least 500 pounds of food. Four teams collected more than 1,500 pounds, earning a pizza party at Pied Piper Pizza.

Leading the way were the Titans seventh-graders with more than 10,000 pounds collected, the Tigers Black seventh-grade team (2,568 pounds), the Vandals eighth-grade team (2,351 pounds), and the Tigers Orange sixth-graders (1,935 pounds).

Henry said support from businesses and individuals for the food drive and an accompanying raffle were critical to the success.

"The goal of the event is to not only tackle hunger in Southwest Washington, but encourage youth athletes to get involved in community service," Henry said.

Vancouver marathoner victorious in Idaho

Micah Rice of Vancouver won the Mesa Falls Marathon on Aug. 25 in Ashton, Idaho.

It was his 11th marathon, and the first win for the 35-year-old. Rice is The Columbian's news editor.

In addition to being at about 5,500 feet in elevation, the challenges along the 26.2-mile course included rutted gravel roads, cattle on the course, and a 3-mile stretch along a dirt trail into and back out of a canyon. Smokey air from nearby forest fires added stress for runners' respiration.

"It was incredibly beautiful. And it was one of the toughest courses I've experienced," Rice said.

When he arrived at the finish line in Ashton, his grandmother, 93-year-old Ashton native Marion Rice, was among those greeting him at the finish line.

"I was not running for a prize or for a medal," Rice said about finishing in 3:00:07. "Doing something to make my family proud was a real neat experience."

Keith Graham of La Center finished 23rd with a time of 3:43:51. A total of 144 finished the full marathon. Another 225 completed the half marathon, including Jeff Shadley of Idaho Falls, who won the full marathon in 2010 and finished second in the full marathon in 2011.

Oghoughi second in half marathon

Aissa Oghoughi of Vancouver finished second Sunday in the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon in Carlton, Ore. Christian Hesch, of Hollywood, Calif., won the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 37 seconds. Oghoughi closed strong to finish in 1:07:05.

Hesch built a strong early lead, but Oghoughi mounted a challenge at mile 11.

Natalie Bak of Bend, Ore., was the women's champion in 1:19:23. Nearly 1,500 runners from 40 states and eight countries participated.

COMMUNITY SPORTS NEWS is published each Tuesday. Submit Community Sports items by sending email to paul.danzer@columbian.com, or call 360-735-4484.