Sound to Narrows test: Can you run your age?

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:

Q: What’s the best goal to set for the June 13 Sound to Narrows?

For more than four decades, the Sound to Narrows has served as an unofficial barometer of fitness for South Sound residents.

If you can break an hour on the hilly 12-kilometer course, it’s a safe bet you’re in good shape. That’s a tick faster than eight minutes per mile.

Last year, 287 of the 1,973 participants finished the challenging course in an hour or less.

But a recent email from Tacoma’s David Seal got me thinking about a goal that could be more challenging or more realistic, depending on the runner.

“How many people have run their age, in minutes?” Seal wrote. He’s 68 and set this as his goal for this year’s race. He set the same goal when he was 65 and “made it by a gnat’s (rear),” he wrote.

There’s absolutely no way I was pouring over 42 years of results to find an answer to Seal’s question, but I did sift through the 2014 results.

What turned up was quite impressive. How many people ran their age last year?

Thirty-three (30 men and three women). That’s it.

“It’s no easy goal, and it seems like a good goal to shoot for as you get older,” Seal said.

Seal says the goal motivates him on his training runs through North Tacoma.

We agreed it would seem the mid-50s would be the sweet spot for running your age, but the 2014 results say otherwise. More than half (18 to be precise) of the people to accomplish the feat were in their 60s.

And what if we used age to calculate the fastest person in the field? It seemed to me this would be just as impressive as winning the race.

So I decided to take the difference between the runner’s age and their time in minutes to see who was fastest.

Of course, it wasn’t the guy who was really fastest. The defending champ, 24-year-old Seth Bridges of Anderson Island, was plus-16 (16 minutes slower than his age). He finished the race in 40 minutes, 3 seconds.

My totally unscientific age-adjusted results showed the real winner was Jerry Gammill of Olalla. The 71-year-old got a score of minus-12 for finishing in 59:03.

The fastest woman, at minus-6, was Judy Fisher of Auburn. The 70-year-old ran a 64:23.

Sorry, Judy and Jerry, I don’t have trophies for you.

But back to the original question. What’s a good goal for the Sound to Narrows?

Under an hour, running your age, a personal best, winning or just finishing. All are good goals.

The best goal is the one that keeps you motivated.

Q. Is that UCI cyclocross race coming back to the South Sound this fall?

Last fall, when organizers of an international cyclocross race in Bend, Oregon, had to cancel, the South Sound stepped up to rescue the race.

With only about a month to prepare, the International Cycling Union races were staged at Spanaway’s Marymount Event Center and Lakewood’s Fort Steilacoom Park. Organizers where pleased with the event.

Now, the Waves for Water Cyclocross Collaboration plans to come back for races Nov. 14-15. This year, both races will be staged at Fort Steilacoom, said Dean Burke, executive director of Tacoma South Sound Sports.

Q. Is the RAMROD course going through Packwood again this year?

Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day starts and finishes in Enumclaw and makes a grueling 150-mile loop around the mountain. Traditionally, the ride climbs to Paradise and descends through Stevens Canyon on the south side of the mountain.

Last summer, road work in the park forced race organizers to route the ride through Packwood, making the ride 168-miles.

This year’s route is not yet finalized, but organizers hope to return to the traditional route.

“Early indications are that we may have our regular course back this year,” Bill Hibler, race spokesman, said via email. “The (road) work is apparently going to be limited to infrastructure construction along the sides of the road from Longmire to Paradise, and they hope to have most of that done by late July. ... Nothing is certain, and we will have to wait for a while to see how things develop, but at least at this point things are very positive.”

The race is July 30 and sold out with 609 people on the waiting list. The Redmond Cycling Club plans to auction tickets on eBay in June. The auctioned entry tickets typically go for $350-$700, Hibler said, with all proceeds going to Mount Rainier National Park.