Ski to Sea Race Factoids
There were fourteen participants in the first race. The complete route was 116 miles long. Joe Galbraith, driven by Hugh Diehl, won the first event in 12 hours and 28 minutes.
However, Harvey Haggard was the first competitor off the mountain (about 40 minutes ahead of Joe Galbraith) and aboard the special train back to town - the other racers would need to find another way down. Exhausted, Haggard stripped naked for a soothing rubdown. Then, as the train rumbled around a corner in Maple Falls, a mammoth red bull exploded from the underbrush and stood right in front of the oncoming train. The collision was a dandy; the train derailed and the coach car flipped up and over - yet no one was hurt. Haggard was pulled from the wreck, a bit shaken and decidedly naked. Standing up, the resilient 20-year-old announced, "I am all right, but I am afraid I've lost the race."
Nonetheless, he donned his clothes and hitched a ride with a passing horse and buggy. By the time Haggard reached Maple Falls, he had to be lifted out of the buggy and onto the back of a waiting horse, which galloped at breakneck speed to a waiting car at Kendall.
Unfortunately, the horse took one look at the automobile and froze with fright. Haggard flew over the pony's head, landing in a heap. Haggard's driver picked him up, put him in the car and roared back to Bellingham, with Haggard fainting twice along the way.
Haggard arrived back at the Chamber of Commerce at 11 a.m. to the cheers of an astounded crowd, who passed the hat and raised $50 for the persevering racer. The chamber added another $30, and Glacier and Maple Falls thew in a whopping $100. Next thing Haggard knew, he'd been crowned King of Glacier. (Courtesy of The Bellingham Herald)
Summit judges J. Will Collins and Nathaniel L. Davis postponed the event due to extremely bad weather on the mountain. The race finally took place on July 31st, to be won by Harvey Haggard. See a copy of the 1912 Race Guide>>>
Paul Westerlund was the winner of the original Mt. Baker Marathon. Victor Galbraith, Joe's cousin, fell some 40 feet into a hidden crevasse while trying a shortcut through the course. Although he survived in relatively good condition, the scare was enough to never run the race again.
There were 12 entrants total for 1913. Westerlund finished first but Magnusson was declared joint winner on a technicality because of a dispute over instructions. This dispute was the basis of a forth marathon that ran from the town of Glacier to the top of the mountain and back. Only Paul Wusterlund and A. Burnside competed in the final marathon. Westurlund won the race by 37 minutes with a record time of 6 hours and two minutes.
The Mount Baker Marathon "slept" for 60 years until reawakening as the Ski to Sea Race, in which teams, not individuals, competed in a relay race from the Mt. Baker Ski area to Bellingham Bay.
Fred Elsethagen submitted a letter to Bill Herb, president of the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce. He had requested that the organization consider "an activity that most closely represents an exclusive for this area." In mind was the old Bellingham slogan "From Sea to Ski in Sixty Minutes."
The first race was based upon the original Mt. Baker Marathon and had three legs: downhill skiing (1 mile), bicycling (22 miles), and canoeing (12 miles). Fifty-two teams entered. The winning team was named "The Taverns," finishing in two hours and 56.28 minutes. On skis was Robert Bornstein, Don Calderwell on bike and Gerald Bajema in the canoe.
Second place went to Blake Allen, Matt Mailhan, and Fred Kefgan of the Mt. Baker Recreation Company, in two hours and 57.37 minutes. Third, fourth and fifth place went to Bellingham Base Camp, Olin Ski Company and Washington State University, respectively. KVOS took sixth place, The Sportsman's Chalet took eighth and Aafo-Belco took ninth. The Bellingham Herald challenged KOMO TV of Seattle and won.
Two meetings were held at the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce at 204 West Holly for parties interested in the relay race.
Franz Gabl was the chair of the race in 1973-'74.
A group of guys from Orofino, Idaho took first place. "The Tavern" took second. A ladies team from Hayden's Thriftway took first place in the women's division.
The committee added runners to the relay. The race now ended in Civic Field. The chair was Lee Angell.
The Ski to Sea Race, chaired by dick Zagelow, ended at Lake Padden, which is the location of the Junior Race today.
Chaired by Bill Canavan, it was the first time the event was a continuous race, ending at Hovander Park.
The Ski to Sea Race ended at Lake Padden, chair was Dick Zagelow.
Snowflakes plagued runners as they headed down a slick Mt. Baker Highway to the Shuksan Snow Removal Shed where cyclists waited to get drenched on their way to the Nooksack River. Weather conditions slowed overall times for the racers that year. The race ended at Hovander Park.
Duane Sammons, chair of the race, is credited with bringing the race to what it is today. Duane chaired from 1979- '93.
This was first year of using sailboats in the race. It was also the first year the race finished in Bellingham Bay with hobbie cats off Squalicum Harbor. There was no wind at all while the first 50 or more racers arrived at the mouth of the Nooksack. Then a breeze came up and moved the whole pack of boats slowly across the bay and across the finish line with most boats finishing in one big pack - impossible to finish with accuracy.
The Race now had 6 legs and a distance covering 85 miles. The finish line moved to Post Point - off Marine Park. Sailboats other than hobbie cats were allowed but had to be no longer than a Hobbie: 16 feet 7 inches.
The canoeists would run - trudge through deep mud - to the waiting sailboats. This could be 100 yards or longer depending on the tide. If there was no wind then they could paddle but this was a confusing process of whether this was allowed. There was good wind that year and all sailed.
Windsurf boards were allowed this year. The racers used 'cow tags' for tracking team progress.
The Ski to Sea Race added cross-country skiing.
A Whatcom County team, Lake Whatcom Watercraft, won the race. It was the first year that a local team had won since "The Taverns" in 1973. Sailboat team captains Mary and Gary Baker crossed the finish line off Marine Park just one second ahead of Seattle based, Scotty's Seafood Cuisine.
The "Able Division" was established for participants with physical disabilities.
An option was added to the final leg of the race, kayaks. For two years, participants had the choice of sailboat or kayak.
The mountain bike leg wad added to the relay race as the sport became more popular and race organizers wanted a faster finish.
The Festival Division held its first Ski to Sea Junior Race. Modeled after the big race, the Junior Race was for participants' grades 3-8. The Sports Team Pulse, winner of the first middle school race, had also recently won the Under 12 State Soccer Championship.
The Race Committee elected Jeannette Brennan as Race Director.
Sailboats were eliminated from the final leg of the race. Kayaks became the choice of sport as participants and race advisors wanted to create a finish line that was not dependent upon the weather for movement and still competitive.
The 1993 Bellingham sponsored team had four olympians on it.
Race organizers closely watched the conditions of the Nooksack River due to the high level of water. They were prepared to eliminate the canoe leg of the race, but three days later the weather improved, water levels dropped and the canoes were allowed.
The Ski to Sea Race reached its maximum number of teams- 400. The 30-minute race program was broadcast on OLN reaching 16 million households.
In the past ten years the race doubled in number of teams participating.
Race organizers added snowboarding as an option to the downhill leg of the race.
Outrigger canoe added as option in the kayaking leg.
Electronic chip timing was used for the first time in calculating each racer's finish time of their respective legs. Galbraith, Blossom and Brennan cups added to recognize top finishing Whatcom County teams.
Pete Coy takes over as Race Director, becoming only the third person to hold the position since the Ski to Sea Race started in 1973.
The canoe leg of the race was cancelled because of fast and high water in the Nooksack River. This is the first time in the history of the race that a leg had to be cancelled.
"Live Timing" is used for the first time allowing spectators to view each racer's time through each leg of the race. Text messaging is offered to all racers allowing the live timing results to be sent to their cell phones or emails. New Mountain Bike course is created by Norka Recreation.
The Mountain Runners
, a documentary film on the 1911-1913 Mount Baker Marathon Race began production. Todd Warger is the Director and Producer, and writing a book on the races as well.
The Ski to Sea Race is now operated by Whatcom Events as of January 22, 2010, a community non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Bellingham. Previously it had been a program of the Bellingham Chamber since 1973. Race Registration opens on September 9, 2010, six months ahead of its historical opening in March.
The Block Party is brought back, and it took place at Boundary Bay Brewery & Bristo in downtown Bellingham the night before the race. The Ski to Sea t-shirt is a tech shirt for the first time in its history. A Ski to Sea song is written and performed by local musicians. A music video is made of the Ski to Sea Race. The race is 100 miles in celebration of the 100 years since the 1911 Mt. Baker Marathon, the predecessor of today's race. The Sea Kayak leg is cancelled with approximately 200 boats still waiting to launch due to a Small Craft Advisory issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.