Small Town Big Plans
Maupin replaces crumbling track with $2 million athletic field
Story and photo by Drew Myron
Four years ago, a teen runner complained about cinders in her shoes.
“Why can’t we have a real track?” she asked.
Day after day, her mother grew weary of the whining.
“Well,” she snapped, “why don’t you do something about it?”
So began the cinders-to-success story—a true tale that has turned an old uneven track into Maupin Deschutes River Athletic Complex. When complete, the $2 million project will operate as a world-class facility with an eight-lane regulation track, football field, spectator seating, performance stage, and concession space.
The community-wide effort began in 2018 with Holly Miles, then an eighth grade Maupin student. She and her teammates made constant workarounds to avoid injuring themselves on the deteriorating track. They practiced only two hurdles at a time, performed high jumps on the grass, and repeatedly emptied the crushed lava collecting in their shoes.
Due to the track’s odd shape and condition, the school had not hosted a track meet in nearly 50 years and could not play football games at night. There was no lighting.
Holly jumps hurdles with ease, but her biggest success may be galvanizing a community to build an elite track in a remote small town. When she shared her concerns with the community, others joined her effort.
People began wearing T-shirts posing the question, “Why can’t we just get a real track?” Plans for change raced ahead.
“I started talking to people, and they started talking to people, and it just kept growing and growing,” says Holly, who serves as
president of her school’s Associated Student Body and hopes to attend an Ivy League university this fall.
Community members reached out to experts in the field and found Michael Bergmann, a former 30-year Nike executive and president of Portland Track. He has helped transform several athletic facilities in Portland.
“I came to Maupin, took a look at the track, and saw a thick cinder egg-shaped track that was not in any shape for competition or even practice,” he says.
Encouraged by the community’s commitment and enthusiasm, Michael served as orchestrator of vision and plans. What started as a modest project quickly took a larger scope. Plans now call for the venue to serve local athletes while also drawing world-class track and field events that will provide economic benefit to the community.
“This is bigger than just a track,” Michael says. “It will create economic impact all year-round. We need something for the school and for the community.”
Organizers see a beautiful setting in a dry sunny climate that will draw highcaliber athletes, Olympic time trials, and world championships.
“It’s going to be a regional hub,” Michael says.“I see world class 10Ks or middledistance meets. I see a live stage for music festivals and cycling events that stage here. This is going to be an incredibly quality track and field complex.”
The new facility is a complete renovation of the former track on the South Wasco County Junior/Senior High School campus on a plateau overlooking the Deschutes River. The school serves Maupin and the surrounding communities of Wamic, Tygh Valley, Simnasho, Shaniko, Pine Hollow, Sportsman’s Park, Wapinitia, and Pine Grove.
The project required extensive leveling of the land. When complete, the track will feature eight lanes with an inside rail, qualifying it for international time trials.
Once a timber town and now a popular fishing and rafting destination, Maupin has 430 full-time residents and scores of visitors. It seems most everyone has pitched in to help with money, materials, enthusiasm, and time.
Holly’s parents, Rob and Susie Miles, own Imperial River Co., a hotel and rafting outfit. They have played key roles in the project.
Susie’s grant requests have raised more than $1 million, securing large contributions from Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, Oregon Community Foundation, Travel Oregon, and many others. Dozens of families and individuals have donated.
The Warnock family, whose members are local ranchers, donated 5,000 cubic yards of gravel. Oregon National Guard brought dump trucks, a loader, dozers, and soldiers to haul and roll rock fill that built the track foundation.
Wasco Electric Cooperative, with Magnum Power, supplied a digger truck and staff to remove inoperable field lights and auger holes for foundation of the new lighting.
The field has been leveled, draining and irrigation are installed, light pole bases created, and concrete curbing and asphalt layer completed. The polyurethane running surface is scheduled to be poured when weather clears in the spring.
Organizers hope to complete the track by this summer.
Along the way, challenges have been numerous. Most notably, pandemic restrictions and economic uncertainty may have hampered fundraising. Funds are still needed to rubberize the track surface, complete lighting, buy track equipment, and build the stage and food cart pod. Roughly $500,000 is still needed to complete the project, according to Michael.
“We’re gallantly trying to move ahead,” he says. “This is not a dream. This is reality. We just need help to get to the finish line.”
Holly, now 17 and in her final months of high school, is eager to see the track completed before graduation.
“The most important thing is that this track will give future generations opportunities,” she says. “We may be a small town, but there’s no reason we should be limited just because of where we live.”
Grants to the Maupin Deschutes River Athletic Complex: Cycle Oregon, $10,000; city of Maupin, $1,500; Roundhouse Foundation, $10,000; Healy Foundation, $11,665; Ford Family Foundation, $25,000; Travel Oregon, $100,000; Oregon Community Foundation, $200,000; Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, $250,000.
Local individual donations: Larry and Vicky Ashley, Sarah Ashley, Steve Ashley, Lee and Sharon Balentine, Don Jacklin and Carol Beatty, Jon Bowerman, Ralph and Karletta Carrithers, Blaine and Keelia Carver, Dan and Jeanne Carver, Deschutes Club, Deschutes Club members, Lynn and Teresa Ewing, Howard and Bernie Fetz, Mike and Dani Foreaker, Tom and Medy Gantz, Ben Gates, Steve Grover, Aimee Hovis, Doug Hunter, Bob and Ada Iverson, Randy and Shelley Iverson, Codey and Carly Johnson, Michael Jones, Frank and Susan Kay, Stan and Kathy Kelsie, Jim Kitchen, Andy and Kate Kreippe, Marcia Lewis, the Lindley family, Dale Madden, Bill and Kim Mead, Nace and Carol Mitchell, Bill Nichols, Greg and Amy O’Neal, Kevin Paulk, Jerri Parman, River Run Lodge, Frank and Coral Anne Roeder, Nick and Brynn Smith, Terry and Joan Stark, Ted Swindells, Nancy Tipton, Allan and Julie Whetzel, Carrol and Judy White, Geoff and Valerie White, Ralph and Tammy Wimmer, Sandra Wong, Ryan and Michelle Wraught.
For more information or to donate, go to the Maupin Deschutes River Athletic Complex website.