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Friday, August 7, 2020

Western Ski to Sea team glides to the finish line

Anna Scwecke rings the bell at the finish line of Ski to Sea after competing in the sea kayak portion of the race. The sea kayak legs takes racers on a five mile course from Zuanich Point Park in Bellingham to Marine Park in Fairhaven. // Photo by Hailey Hoffman

By Erikah Guillen

On May 26 at 7:30 a.m., a team comprised of eight Western students came together to participate in the 2019 Ski to Sea relay race.

Ski to Sea started in 1973 and is held annually on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. The race is a multisport relay race that begins at Mount Baker and ends at Bellingham Bay. The race is divided into seven legs that include cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, running, road biking, canoeing, cyclocross biking and sea kayaking.

Kyra Yanny, a cross country ski racer for the team “IM NOT TIRED” competes in the first leg of Ski to Sea. // Photo by Hailey Hoffman

This year Ski to Sea had more that 400 teams participate, according to the race website. Of those teams, a team with the name IM NOT TIRED participated. This team was made up of eight woman, all from Western. 

“I’m stoked,” Rianne Ellingwood, IM NOT TIRED member said. “I have no idea what to expect, I’m going to do my part, cheer on my teammates, and hopefully I won’t die.”

IM NOT TIRED included Ellingwood, Drew Morris, Anna Schwecke, Kyra Yanny, Haley Holliday, Olivia Larson, Alice Hiebert and Karina Gallant.

“Our team leader Drew Morris pretty much organized it all,” Schwecke, the team’s sea kayaker, said. “We all knew what Ski to Sea was but Drew was the one who put it all together and encouraged us to make a team.”

Registration for Ski to Sea ended on May 22. In order for a team to register they have to pay a fee upwards of $500 depending on when they register and what type of team they are. According to Schwecke, their team registered a few months back.

“It started out as more of a hypothetical thing that we would do,” Schwecke said. “We would talk about how fun it would be to do Ski to Sea one day, then it all just sort of came together and next thing we knew, we had a full team that was registered.”  

This was the first year that the team participated in the race. According to Morris, the team’s downhill runner, she and Holliday had wanted to do Ski to Sea since they first arrived at Western. This year was the year they put together a team full of women who enjoyed outdoor sports.

Cyclocross racer Karina Gallant carries a bike over obstacles during the 14 mile leg from Ferndale to Zuanich Point Park in Bellingham. // Photo by Mike Oh

“I heard about Ski to Sea my freshman year of college and ever since had always wanted to compete in the race,” Morris said.

Each team member prepped for the race at their own pace. According to Ellingwood, the team’s downhill skier, she found preparation for the skiing portion to be easy because she used to downhill ski competitively. However, she did not feel the same way about hiking uphill with skis. She prepped for that by hiking, running and lifting weights.

“I love skiing,” Ellingwood said. “I grew up skiing and ski racing, so it is definitely a big part of who I am, and I’ve always wanted to go back to the competitive side of things.”

Morris also had experience prior to her leg of the race, as she runs in her day-to-day life.

“I was training for the Chuckanut 25k trail race in the Chuckanut Mountains that took place a few weeks ago, so that definitely helped me get in shape for Ski to Sea,” Morris said.

Olivia Larson and Alice Hiebert canoe down the Nooksack River during the fifth leg of Ski to Sea. The race takes canoeists 18 miles from Everson to Ferndale. // Photo by Hailey Hoffman

Unlike her teammates, Schwecke struggled to make time to prepare for the race. She had to find times between school and basketball practice to make it out to the water, but ultimately she felt that she was in good shape to do well.

The team ended the race in a little over nine hours and placed 269 out of 419. After the race, Schweke said she appreciated the chance to be involved in such a large event.

“The race was so much fun to be a part of, and it was super exciting to be involved in such a big event,” Schwecke said. “It was also great to see how much the community is involved and [how they] came out to support the race.”



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