If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Ski to Sea draws thousands of athletes to Whatcom County


Ski to Sea brought in athletes from around the Pacific Northwest to compete in the classic relay on Sunday, May 26.

Birch Equipment earned its third first-place finish in as many years, beating out other three-time champion Boomer’s Drive-In – and nearly 500 other teams – with a time of 6:07:05.

The seven-leg, ski, bike, canoe, paddle and footrace drew over 3,500 participants from across the U.S. and Canada. Despite rainy, overcast weather – with some rain/snow mix in the early-morning alpine legs – winds were calm on the final sea kayak stretch, and the athletes were able to meander through Whatcom County’s snowy peaks and rushing river without any cancellations.

Jonas Ecker, a Bellingham-born paddler set to compete for Team USA in the upcoming Paris Olympics in canoe and kayak events, earned the “Top Gun” award in the sea kayak leg with a 37:17.6 time.

SHEroes posted the fastest time by an all-female team, with Anna Goodwin (cross-country ski), Alyson Carlyon Stewart (downhill ski), Aly Huerter (run), Anna Talman (road bike), Barb Willson and Kari Wright (canoe), Bridget Meyboom (cylcocross), and Megan Northey (sea kayak), finishing with a time of 7:38:00.4.

One of the newest divisions is “Car-Free” teams, meaning groups that completed the entire race without the assistance of motorized transportation. All racers, support team members and equipment (including canoes and kayaks) are transported without a car, usually by bike. While a daunting task on top of an already daunting journey, it didn’t slow down team Surfrider Mavericks, which finished with a time of 6:40:22, placing seventh overall.

Thanks to a few late spring snow flurries, Mt. Baker Ski Area volunteers were able to pile what snow was left to preserve the ski portions, avoiding the cancellation of the iconic opening alpine legs of the race.

Now in its fifth decade since officially establishing in 1973, Ski to Sea drew competitors from as far as Alabama, Michigan, West Virginia and Alberta, Canada to compete, and thousands of spectators to watch exhausted kayakers reach the final leg of their journey and ring the finish line bells at Marine Park in Fairhaven. It was the first sold out race since 2011.    X