‘Feeling really special’: Ski to Sea marks 50th anniversary, prepares to usher in summer
May 25, 2023 Updated Thu., May 25, 2023 at 8:11 p.m.
BELLINGHAM – Ski to Sea is marking its 50th anniversary this weekend with nearly 500 teams and participants from across North America and the world.
Bellingham’s signature race is a seven-leg relay that starts with downhill skiers and snowboarders at the Mt. Baker Ski Area and ends with kayakers pulling out of the water at Marine Park in Fairhaven to ring the finishing bell.
In between, there’s cross-country skiing, running, bicycling, canoeing and cyclocross.
“There’s been people who have been participating for 40 years or more,” race director Anna Rankin told The Bellingham Herald. “This year is feeling really special to me.”
Start time is 7:30 a.m. Sunday, and the first teams begin to arrive at Marine Park usually about 1:30 p.m.
Some 478 teams are registered in several divisions to tackle the 93-mile course that goes from 4,300 feet to sea level, Rankin said.
Competitors are from 40 U.S. states and several foreign countries, including Italy and Pakistan, she said.
The annual event attracts thousands of participants and spectators alike and serves to unofficially usher in summer.
Since Mount Baker Highway is used for the running and road bike legs of the race, it will be closed to traffic starting in the mountain village of Glacier at 7:15 a.m. Sunday and reopen about 1 p.m., Rankin said.
Traffic could be heavy at several transition points for racers along the route, including Riverside Park in Everson, Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale, and Zuanich Point Park and Marine Park in Bellingham.
Several streets will be closed in the Fairhaven shopping district for an after-race party and fair that features music, a beer garden and special sales.
Traffic will be heavy and parking will be difficult, so event organizers suggest walking, biking or riding the bus.
Whatcom Transportation Authority buses will run every 15 minutes along Route 1 from the downtown station to Fairhaven.
Fairhaven can be reached on foot or by bike from the South Bay Trail, which is about 2 miles from downtown Bellingham.
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