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Duffy, Fischer hit it off perfectly in Mixed Boom Run final
By Sam Eifling
Great Outdoor Games staff

Jamie Fischer and Taylor Duffy
Jamie Fischer and Taylor Duffy are golden runners in the Mixed Doubles Boom Run.
Taylor Duffy stuck to a simple strategy in her Mixed Doubles Boom Run. Was it conservative? Surely. Timid? A little.

A gold medal says you can't blame her, though.

"I knew that Jamie was a really fast runner, so I just wanted to help him out by not falling off," she said, referring to her partner, Jamie Fischer, who didn't lose a race Friday.

"If I was a little behind the girl I was running against, I just wanted to have a strong, steady run and make sure that I didn't fall off.

"Because I knew if I stayed up there, Jamie could bring it home."

Duffy stayed out of the water and Fischer indeed brought it home, earning gold medals for the pair and the second of the day for Fischer in his first ESPN Great Outdoor Games appearance.

The final race unfolded just as Duffy described: She stayed out of the water but fell behind three-time Women's Boom Run gold medalist Mandy Erdmann, to the tune of more than two logs' length.

Erdmann's partner, Doug Goodmundson, gamely tried to fend off Fischer, but he might as well have been trying to outrun death itself.

With the crowd's hollers growing with each step he made up, Fischer overtook Goodmundson and blazed across the finish line with a full second and a half to spare, 31.068 seconds to 32.588.

That decision was only slightly tighter than the race that got Duffy and Fischer to the finals. In their semifinal race against Abbigail Hoeschler and Men's Boom Run silver medalist JR Salzman, their strategy nearly met its foil.

If I was a little behind the girl I was running against, I just wanted to have a strong, steady run and make sure that I didn't fall off.
Gold medalist Taylor Duffy

Hoeschler was supposed to get enough of a lead on the conservative Duffy that Salzman would be able to hold Fischer off.

The first part worked, as Salzman started with a lead. But, he said, he blew it by spinning on the first log and was doomed to race Fischer flat from there out, losing 33.058 seconds to 31.354.

"He's an amazing runner," Duffy said of her partner. "It's not even normal how fast he can go. Maybe it was wrong of me to think, 'Oh, it's OK if I do bad, he'll bring it home.' But I knew if I didn't fall off, we could do it."

Funny thing about the Mixed Doubles: the two barely knew each other before hanging out at this year's Great Outdoor Games. But they hit it off, Fischer said, adding, "Things always go good when you're winning."

Salzman and Hoeschler settled for a bronze medal, beating Travis Wells and Shana Martin in the consolation match. In their last two races, Travis Wells fell off the logs and wound up wading to the finish.

Replays showed he took a couple of unlucky steps, such as one at the end of a log that pushed it below the surface. Wells and Martin blamed fatigue for their plight.

"We were both getting really tired," Martin explained. "But I don't care. It was fun."

Not to say the regular old Boom Run was lacking drama — it is, after all, a sprint down eight logs floating in a lake — but doubling the number of competitors swelled the spectacle exponentially.

The women had first run, and light though they are, by the time they returned to the dock, the men were faced with a chain of dipping, swaying logs.

Every quarterfinal race featured at least one fall. Cassidy Scheer hit the water on his return trip, just about the time that Doug Goodmundson was dragging his right shoe in the water, barely staying upright on the way to the finish. In the second quarterfinal heat, only Martin kept dry.

Both her opponents, Fred Scheer and Crystal Salzman, took spills, and her teammate, Wells, fell so late in the race that he ostensibly belly-flopped his way from the water up to the finish line. Dustin Beckwith fell near the end of his first trip, realized he had no chance of winning, and took time to mug for a television camera before heading back.

The most absurd race of the afternoon required Hoeschler and Margaret Bulk to run a tight, clean, compelling sprint and turn it over to partners who fell twice apiece and finished less than two seconds apart.

Brian Duffy slipped off about halfway through the first leg, but recovered instantly.

J.R. Salzman nonetheless had a huge lead until he fell, tried to remount a log and slipped off again. Duffy had a clear path to the victory but fell yet again, and Salzman barely passed him.

Asked immediately afterwards what happened, Salzman, who has the words "truth" and "honesty" printed in ink on his shoes, replied simply: "I stunk."

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