The “Big Race” starts promptly at 7:45 AM with a dynamite blast at the Mt. Baker Ski Area, home to the world’s greatest recorded snowfall in one season: 1,140 inches (29m) during the 1998-99 season. The course is approximately 4 miles over rolling hills. The start of the race pits 500 skiers against each other in one of the most dramatic race starts you’ll ever see.
The “baton” is passed to the downhill skier or snowboarder who then races over a 2.5 mile course. Some say this should be called the “Uphill Leg” as racers climb 800 feet straight up North Face before getting in their tuck position. Mt. Baker enjoys the highest average annual snowfall of any resort in the world, with 647 inches (16.3 m).
Runners then take the baton and leave the snow to run an 8 mile course that is almost all downhill on Mt. Baker Highway. The eastern end of SR 542 is closed most of the year at 5,100-foot (1,600 m) Artist Point because of (yes, you guessed it) SNOW. Runners start approximately 2.5 miles west of Artist Point and lose approximately 2,200 feet in elevation.
Road Bikers take the handoff from the runners and proceed to churn the 42 mile course into Everson, WA. At the beginning of the route, Power House Hill allows you to gain some speed. Racers also ride past Silver Lake Park, considered by many to be one of the Northwest’s premier camping parks, where almost every form of recreation one associates with the outdoors is available.
Two paddlers then proceed to canoe 18.5 miles down the North Fork of the Nooksack River. At Nooksack Falls, the river flows through a narrow valley and drops freely 88 feet (27 m) into a deep rocky river canyon. Don’t worry as the canoe put in is “after” Nooksack Falls at Riverside Park in Everson. The course is considered class 1 (on a 1-6 scale) but represents deceptive hazards due to log jams, submerged logs, undercut trees and other obstructions. Practice your “hut” skills for this leg.
Cyclocross Bikers get to burn their thighs racing over 20 miles of trails and fields with some street sections thrown in. Be prepared for some Northwest mud, which can slow even the best of riders. Racers start at Hovander Park, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are given of the historic farmhouse and the big red barn along with a farmyard full of cows, chickens, rabbits, pigs, goats and horses.
Bellingham Bay is the last leg in this adventure race, with kayakers paddling the 5 miles to the finish line in Marine Park in the historic Fairhaven District. Bellingham Bay is named for Sir William Bellingham, who was controller of the storekeeper’s account for the Royal Navy at the time that Britons under the command of George Vancouver visited the bay in June 1792.
The typical team will take 6-8 hours to finish the course. Teammates can await their kayaker by spending time in the Ski to Sea Beer Garden in Marine Park. Enjoy world famous Boundary Bay beer, winner of over 70 awards for its local microbrews. Bring the kids and let them enjoy the Kids’ Zone while you bask in the sun and partake in the many Northwest foods available from the vendors.
Ski to Sea is the original multisport relay race, from Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay. Organize your team of 8 racers and join us on Memorial Day weekend! Teammates and spectators await finishing racers in Bellingham’s scenic Marine Park and can experience the Historic Fairhaven Festival, the all-day street party just up the hill.
Returning racers tell us their favorite parts of Ski to Sea are camaraderie and community. From organizing your team to training, racing, and trading stories at the finish line beer garden, Ski to Sea is all about teamwork. It is also about our incredible community of 1000 (yep, one thousand!) volunteers who work together to make this event unforgettable, year after year, since 1973.REGISTRATION OPEN!
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