The Story

Where did the name for the route come from?
Southern Oregon Runners founder, Jerry Swartsley, tells us…


welcome to camel country

The year was 1969, December 31, my birthday.

It was the first time I ventured over Carpenter Hill which was a rural granite road in those days. Up the second hill and down to the intersection, then left, and onto the double dip hills that became Camelback, left at 4-corners, north on Coleman Creek to South Stage, then back to our apartment at Town & Country Estates Hwy 99, a bit over 10 miles. I was so excited and told my bride of a year about this neat course and “coined the name” – “Camelback” for the double hump. and that’s how it happened, December 31, 1969. The name stuck and has been passed onto many a runner.

This was an era; before running became popular. There were very few runners, three races in the entire state. Hard to believe but shoes had leather tops and had to be “broken in” or many a blister would crop up. Vaseline was a common fix to help alleviate blisters. Adidas & Puma were the only two running shoes on the west coast. New Balance was strictly east coast.

12694680_1756697761224909_2768834862291975772_oA couple of years later, Tiger Onasutka came to the area; what is now Asics. Nike was just a dream. Running attire was strictly cotton; heavy and became soggy and wet. Finally we had nylon running shorts which would chaffe ones’ inner thighs much like a burn unless vaseline was used – no liner, jock straps were a necessity. Shoes were considerably heavier in those days and this was before the high tech testing and wick-away-sweat materials. There were no running books or magazines, no internet – information was non-existent. No running watches; I carried a sweep-hand stop watch many a mile, along with a regular flashlight. Runners were mocked as there were few of us and we were considered “abnormal”. My first marathon (of 29 – 6 in the 2:40’s, 17 in the 2:50’s) required a physical with a Doctor’s clearance with our registration. It was a different era but one I’m glad to have been part of.

As they say, it’s been a Great Run.

- Jerry Swartsley, Feb 2016

Jerry and his wife started Oregon’s very first running club, Southern Oregon Runners in 1969.
They also founded and directed Pear Blossom Run for 35 years before turning it over to the YMCA.


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