News > Famed Ski to Sea Race Celebrates 100th Year

Famed Ski to Sea Race Celebrates 100th Year

skitoseaA record 500 teams and 4,000 racers entered and endured the seven-leg, 100-mile Ski to Sea race, held in Washington State early last week.

The century old race, which starts at Mt. Baker Ski Area and ends at Marine Park in Fairhaven, requires a team, consisting of eight members to complete seven different legs (Cross Country Ski; Downhill Ski/Snowboard; Running; Road Bike; Canoe – two members; Mountain Bike; Kayak) that span an exhausting 100 miles and the wide variety of terrain the area offers.

Each racer can only compete for one team and perform just one leg of the race to keep teams from stacking ringers and stealing victories.

The cross country leg starts the race and follows a four-mile course at which time the downhill ski or snowboard (participants choice) commences. The alpine leg requires skiers and riders to complete several runs with the occasional hike back up to the start of another run mixed in to complete the 2.5-mile loop.

The race then moves into running mode for eight miles, cycling for 42-miles, canoeing for another 18.5-miles, mountain biking for 20 and finally, sea kayaking for five miles to round out the grueling 100-mile course.

In a time of six hours, 11 minutes and 22 seconds, the Barron Heating team reclaimed the race’s top spot in the competitive division after enduring four-straight second place finishes.

Barron Heating was roughly eight minutes faster than Boss Construction, the team that edged Barron last year in a surprise finish.

Other results included the Boundary Bay Brewery Team taking the Women’s Competition in seven hours and 31 minutes and Kicks Running and Walking taking the Whatcom County Open in six hours 28 minutes – a time that rivaled the overall race winners.

This year was particularly important to race enthusiasts as it marked the 100th year the race – or something like it – was competed in the area.

The Ski to Sea Race began as the Mt. Baker Marathon in 1911 and held until 1913. Race creators allowed participants to use automobiles or the train to traverse certain parts of the course until they reached the running portion. The race was originally created as a publicity stunt by conservationists looking to preserve the North Cascades at the time.

In 1973, the Mt. Baker Marathon was adapted into the Ski to Sea Race, with a twist, this time bikes, canoes, skies and snowboards would provide the transportation rather than cars and trains.

Ski to Sea has endured several tweaks and adaptations since 1973, but remains mostly in tact compared to the version of four decades ago.

Registration has already begun for the 2012 race, scheduled for May 27; the competition is capped at 500 teams for next year as well.

-Ryan O'Leary

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