Every year over Memorial Weekend, the town of Bellingham bursts at the seams with visitors for the annual Ski to Sea race. This 7 leg, 8 person relay race is the coolest 90 mile race that goes from the top of Mt. Baker ski area down to the shores of Bellingham Bay. Cross country and down hill skiing, running, road cycling, canoeing, mountain biking and finally kayaking make this race a kick for all kinds of athletes. Not to mention there are about 10+ categories - from the open competitive to Whatcom County recreational teams and everything in between.
This year 475 teams competed with the top team of Boss Construction ringing the finishing bell around 5 hours and 45 minutes and the last teams finishing around 12 hours.
Together with a group of friends, Ryan and I have been doing this race for the past 4 years. The racers have changed from year to year - last year I missed the race (due to a broken heart of losing Ryan) but this year was back and ready to represent.
I am proud to say High Country Hoodlums placed 41st overall and 22nd in our category.
A little breakdown of our team:
Cam Charles - Skate skier extraordinaire. The first year we participated, Cam was living in SLC, and flew in to crush the field with a top 20 result. This year he broke out the full body skin suit and did an excellent job - 41st overall and 20th in his category.
Cam charged to the finish line to hand of to Brian Dorr, who's house we invaded for the weekend. Brian is becoming the uphill/downhill specialist as he has done every downhill portion of the race since the team first formed 4 years ago. The hike gains 1,000 feet of elevation and you can only carry your downhill equipment - no packs or ipods are allowed.
After pushing people out of his way and getting sweaty, he handed the timing chip to Emily Rimas, a first time participant and recent Boston Marathon finisher. Emily is an amazing athlete and pounded down the 8 mile run with ease.
After crushing the downhill section, Emily had to run 1/4 mile up hill to the road bike hand off where yours truly got to aero out and fly down Mt. Baker Highway at speeds in excess of 40 mph.
Things were going great and we were in the top 30 teams to start the competition. Unfortunately fate had another idea. Roughly 15 miles from the finish of the road portion, I discovered a flat. And rather than stop to change it, I rode the rim in to the finish. Only to discover my canoeist - Andrew Berger - was no where to be found.
33! Number 33!!!! ANDREW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Bellingham Herald was all over that action. And about 5 minutes of yelling, cursing, wondering if he was hurt - he comes jogging up from the river!
Meet Andrew Berger. One of Ryan's childhood buddies and an avid canoeist and rock climber. He roped his co-worker Justin in to do the grueling 2 hour 18 mile river leg. In years past, Andrew and Ryan used our recreational canoe and were complaining about getting passed by racing boats. The next year, Andrew spent $600 on a carbon fiber boat that was super tippy - but fast and light. They crushed their previous time and showed off their guns in style.
Next up - the mountain bike leg. Fras Charles, Cam's younger brother and all around bad ass athlete was stoked to partake. He ROCKED the mud and pavement - placing 14th overall! He showed up to the finish line muddy and happy.
And last, but certainly not least, was Ben Hermil, Emily's boyfriend who rocked the kayak portion. He had borrowed Jess's (Brian's wife) dad's rec kayak and brought home the team to the finish line.
And the final shot - Ben cruising along in Bellingham Bay.
Some photos I wish I could have gotten are of our amazing support crew. Jess, Roanne, Abby and Chris - we couldn't have done it without you! Thanks for putting up with a bunch of smelly stinky athletes and sharing the memories with us!
We'll be back in 2011 and ready to crush again....