It was all about the numbers this year at the Ski to Sea relay in Bellingham, Washington: Four miles Cross-Country skiing, two and a half miles downhill ski/snowboard, eight miles running, 42 miles bicycling, 18.5 miles canoeing, 20 miles mountain biking, and five miles kayaking through water white-capping so furiously that race officials eventually had to cancel the last leg of the race.
The 100 miles total marked the 100th year since a few, hardy Northwest citizens embarked on the first combined automobile/foot race to the summit of Mt. Baker and back again.
A kayaker musters his last reserves in a finish-line dash.
We parked Wally in the thick of a Summer-Coming-Out Extravaganza that brought thousands together for an event that was partly a celebration of the area's diverse outdoor gamesmanship opportunities, and partly a proud opportunity to string together musicians and entertainers and food stands for an epic Bellingham-style street fair.
Among those who stopped by our booth was Todd Warger, the director of The Mountain Runners, a chronicling of the original Northwest Male Action Figures, whose aforementioned race, in 1911, inspired the idea for Ski to Sea.
One-hundred years meant a few shared memories from onlookers as well. One spectator said that her year-in-year-out highlight has always been the kayakers, whose legs, stiffly tucked for five miles of racing, wobble wildly after the riders disembark for a short run up a hill to ring the bell that signifies the completion of the relay race.
A finisher enjoys a cup of water in the Bellingham sunshine.
Each resounding peal signified a challenge fiercely met. Congrats to the eight members of the winning squad, Barron Heating (with a time of 6:11:22), and the 499 other teams that tested their mettle in the Ski to Sea gauntlet!