Footloose family

In the Gutches family, fitness starts young and spreads far
A passion for running binds the Gutcheses and their extended family members. They are clockwise from top: Sawyer Gutches-Griffin, 2; Terrie Gutches; Sage Gutches-Griffin, 5; Kent Gutches; Chad Gutches; Sarah Gutches; Griffin Gutches, 10; Parker Gutches, 8; and 9-year-old Paige Gutches. 3/2012 Denise Baratta

"I wrestled as a kid, and my two brothers did," explains Kent. "That's how we really got started running, when I was in wrestling at Rogue River High School."

In his 20s, Kent returned to training and racing to stay in shape for hunting trips, according to his wife, Terrie, a high-school softball player.

Fast family

Not only do extended family members of the Gutches clan run together, they do it pretty well. The Southern Oregon Runners club, which sponsors many local running events throughout the year, compiles "Runner of the Year" standings for all the age groups. To qualify, runners had to complete at least eight of the club's 19 events. Following are how some of the family members stacked up in 2012:

Paige Gutches, First place, female, 9 and younger

Parker Gutches, Second place, female, 9 and younger

Terrie Gutches, Third place, female, 30-34 age group

Chad Gutches, First place, male, 30-34 age group

Kent Gutches, First place, male, 30-34 age group

"Then he dragged me into it," says Terrie. "I really started running because I had three children."

Neighbor kids would watch television on Saturday mornings, but the Gutches cousins weren't given the option of sitting around.

"Our kids don't know the difference; none of us do," says Terrie. "It's a sport that you can do for life; it doesn't matter what your age is. You all get together and maybe go out to breakfast afterward. " It's a family sport."


One of Terrie's and Kent's sons, Brock Gutches, is building upon the aerobic base he developed through family runs to make a name for himself as a collegiate wrestler. A senior at Southern Oregon University, he recently won his second consecutive NAIA national wrestling championship in the 174-pound weight class. Brock also was a state wrestling champion in 2009 at Crater High School.

Athletic success in the Gutches family doesn't end there. Brock's cousin — and Chad's brother — Les is associate director of USA Wrestling. Les was a three-time state wrestling champ for South Medford High School, two-time NCAA champ at Oregon State and an Olympic wrestler. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009.

The newest family wrestler is 10-year-old cousin Griffin Gutches, who is learning the moves in an after-school program at Hoover Elementary.

"If you're a boy and you're a Gutches, you're a wrestler," says Chad. He deadpans it: "You touched a basketball, you got grounded."

Chad and his wife, Sarah, have continued the family running tradition with their two children, Paige, 9, and Parker, 8. In the annual Couples Truffle Shuffle 10K relay race in February, in which each runner runs a 5K, Chad and Paige took second place in the father-daughter category.


"It's way easier to get them out (and running) if you're doing it, too," says Chad. "It's way better for them to be out running than playing video games."

According to Sarah, their children like the social aspect of the sport as much as the health benefits.

"They now have friends of their own who they see at races and they're excited about," says Sarah.

Competition can be contagious, the two girls have discovered. Paige is building a collection of age-group ribbons. "It's fun winning," she explains.

As a parent, Chad is comfortable bringing his girls to a crowd with other runners.


"There are few places where you can be around 250 people with your kids and feel you don't have to be watching them every second," says Chad. "It's a great group of people: Everybody's healthy."

After more than two decades of attending weekly races, Kent has found that running has become part of the family social life.

"At every race you go to, you see your old friends," he says. "There are still the same people out there, year after year."

The youngest member at today's family gathering is Sawyer, Kent's and Terrie's grandson. The 2-year-old shrieks with glee when he sees the others begin to run. This immediately elicits a concerned response from his older sister, Sage, and his two cousins, Paige and Parker, who run to him to ensure he's all right.

Sawyer's got the girls wrapped around his little finger. What he doesn't realize is that they're grooming him to become a runner. He can't possibly say no.




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