Clouds wander over the water of Lake Samish early on Sunday, Jan. 15, as dozens of runners line up behind the start line. The air is cool and the wind blows gently. In a moment, these runners will travel around the lake for the 10k and half marathon races.
The horn blows and they are off, making sure their watches are set and heads focused on the challenge ahead.
Greater Bellingham Running Club held its 45th Annual Lake Samish Runs on Jan. 15. Lake Samish Runs is a laid-back, fun event for anyone wanting a challenge and a beautiful place to take it on.
"It's a homegrown atmosphere. People really value having these opportunities to just get out and be with other people and maybe push themselves a little bit," said Colette McNabb, one of two race directors.
McNabb has been directing this race in person for three years.
"I like the simplicity of it," she said.
The running community in Bellingham brings together like-minded people who are striving to better themselves in health and in other aspects of their life.
"It brings people together and teaches them about health and fitness," said Julie Parker, a participant in the half marathon distance.
Parker has been running since she was in middle school. She loves how she feels when she runs and is able to zone out.
"I enjoyed running, and it was fun having my husband and two sons and yellow lab follow me along the course," Parker said.
A 6.5 mile runner, Michelle Foster, was persuaded by her personal trainer to join Lake Samish Runs this year.
"She always tells me about these races, and I always say, ‘Yes.’ I am the ‘yes’ person," Foster said. "I love … getting together with people that are into their fitness and health."
The runs are admired by many, some new to the race and some who have been doing it for years.
"I always love the views on this run, and my favorite part is that there are minimal hills," Jen Newbauer said.
Newbauer has been running for 20 years, and after battling a cold during her 6.5-mile race, she finished proud of what she had accomplished. Newbauer is a new member of GBRC but has run in Lake Samish Runs before.
"I will definitely do it next year and am aiming to do a monthly GBRC run," she said.
With aspirations to become an Olympic runner as a middle schooler, now 57-year-old Susan Perry, also a new member of GBRC, is looking forward to meeting new people in the Bellingham running community.
"Even though I'm in my 50s, I'm looking forward to improving on my time," Perry said.
Along with Newbauer, Perry completed the 6.5-mile run for her first Lake Samish Runs race.
Months of work goes into this race; from gaining road rights to hiring a sheriff, there is much to be done.
"There have been years where it has actually gone to the day before the race that everything has not been in place," McNabb said.
Lake Samish Runs is one of many runs that the GBRC puts on each year, with an average of one a month. You can become a member for discounted runs and other benefits.
"They have lots of little local runs, and it inspires us to make sure we keep running. … It gives us something to aim for," Perry said.
GBRC is a nonprofit organization and is primarily volunteer-run, according to McNabb.
GBRC will be putting on another run, the Padden Mudfest, on March 5. You can find information for this, along with many other upcoming runs, on their website.
Click here for more photos of the Lake Samish Runs.
Briana Tuvey (she/her) is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a third-year and is planning to major in visual journalism with a minor in psychology and sociology. She also enjoys soccer, photography and watching movies.
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org