Love of challenge spurs LO man to new adventures
Editor's note: The following story is illustrative of the content inside our annual magazine, 'Perspective,' that is inserted into today's Lake Oswego Review.
When Ron Gayer was single, in his 30s and living in Chicago, he had just come in from a casual run along the lake when a friend called.
When Gayer told his friend that he had just finished a run, the friend said, 'Hey, that reminds me. Want to run Boston?'
'What's that?' Gayer responded, not even knowing what a marathon was.
Without his knowing, Gayer's life was about to changed.
Without much thought, Gayer agreed to the 26.2 mile run with his friend. They decided to start training together. After their first run, the friend dropped out, deciding he didn't like running.
Like Forrest Gump, Gayer, who is now a Lake Oswego resident, never stopped running, eventually adding on more and more miles.
Before having to retire from running due to a deteriorating knee, Gayer completed 50 marathons and five 100-miles races called ultra marathons.
It seems nothing stops Gayer's determination. At his first marathon, the weather was horribly cold. He recalled slipping on the ice at one point. But he persevered and quickly entered his next race.
But the highs of running outweighed the lows. Gayer recalled the thousands of spectators along the Boston marathon, cheering him on.
'It's like your own cheering section,' he said. 'For the average runner, it's pretty inspiring.'
Over the next few years of running marathons, Gayer started adding in unusual races with unique challenges for an extra thrill.
'I always say I fell into a bad crowd,' Gayer said of his running friends.
Among that crowd of running fans were a few who were attempting longer distances, 50 milers and 100 milers.
'That intrigued me,' said Gayer.
He signed up and was selected in the lottery for the Western States 100, an endurance run in California that traverses rugged terrain, climbing a total of 18,090 feet and descending 22,970 feet.
Gayer did not finish that first ulta. By mile 85 he was spent and knew he would not finish in his goal of 24 hours. He quit.
'I could barely walk at that time,' he recalled. But he was not deterred.
In his 40s, Gayer attempted the Wasatch 100 in Utah, which he did finish, but would never recommend to any of his friends.
In a sheep-filled countryside, runners were told not to drink from the streams, but race planners failed to provide enough hydration along the course. Gayer was retained at one check-in station when he urinated blood because he was so severely dehydrated.
Perhaps his strangest experience while running an ultra race was during the Western States 100. Around 4 p.m., after already running for 11 hours, Gayer was in an isolated part of the trail. All of a sudden, he saw a gorgeous blond woman leaning against a tree - stark naked.
'She gave me a nice smile and said 'Hi,'' said Gayer, who thought he had been hallucinating.
But when Gayer later came upon another runner and asked if he had also seen the woman, the runner had, along with her naked boyfriend on the other side of the trail.
Over all the miles, Gayer ran with a knee that he had injured in a skiing accident, eventually wearing down his knee to bone on bone. He had to give up running.
But that was OK, because Gayer had now found mountain climbing.
In the same easy way he got roped into running a marathon, a friend asked if Gayer would want to climb Mount Hood. He said, 'Sure.'
In his climbing years, Gayer tackled Mt. Hood 12 times, Mt. Shasta, South Sister and Middle Sister, Broken Top, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens, to name a few. He even climbed Mt. Hood solo one time, just to see if he could do it.
'It's the challenge of doing something really hard and succeeding,' said Gayer of the draw of running and climbing.
Three years ago Gayer had his bum knee completely replaced but that has not slowed him down any - he has now found hiking.