Due to the lack of snowfall on Mount Baker this season, Bellingham’s annual Ski to Sea relay race was forced to pull the plug on skiing, instead incorporating downhill jogging and mountain biking.
Ski to Sea Race Director Curtis Anson said this is not the first time conditions have required them to reroute the race.
Back in 2005, there was a lack of snowpack on Mount Baker, but skiing continued at a different track further uphill, Anson said.
Ski to Sea Executive Director Pete Coy said that every year there are challenges with the course due to weather changes.
“In 2005, we had a very low snowpack, so we actually switched the first two legs of the race and we moved them to where there was more snow,” Coy said. “But this year is a situation where there is simply no snow, and we can’t move the legs, and we can’t move the snow.”
But that doesn’t mean that the race has become any easier. The new course will still offer many difficult sections for participants to navigate.
“There are going to be some jumps, a lot of roots and some mud,” Coy said. “This time, we’re going to have some nasty hills that are going to challenge some of the less experienced mountain bikers.”
The biggest challenge Ski to Sea faces isn’t the lack of snow, but the fact that the race track intersects the train tracks, Coy said. However, he said they’ve come up with a solution.
People who are running the race will stop participants at the tracks if a train is going by. Coy said they will keep track of their stop time and then start them in order of when they stopped. They will also keep track of the time they were not racing, and then combine all of the times for a final accurate time to see who won and who didn’t.
Anson said the turnout shouldn’t be affected by cutting skiing, and attendance will look a lot like past years.
“People understand that we’re not just trying to be cute and change the course for fun, they understand that there’s no snowpack and the changes we’re making are due to necessity,” Anson said.