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Submitted by Peoples Bank

It’s almost that time of year again. That wondrous time in between spring and summer in Whatcom County when the excitement of the long Memorial Day weekend meets the legendary multi-sport team relay race, Ski to Sea. Sunday, May 26th marks the 51st year of the Ski to Sea Race and the 19th year of Peoples Bank being the title sponsor for this historic event. In honor of this milestone, here are 19 tips for Ski to Sea spectators and event goers.

1. Where do I go to win free money?

Free money? From a bank? Yes! Located near the race finish line at Marine Park, the Peoples Bank booth will offer visitors a chance to win $20. Come spin our prize wheel for a chance to win cash and other sweet prizes!

2. When do the first racers start coming through the finish line?

Around 1:20 pm is usually when the first racers start coming in on their kayaks. If you’re cheering for a specific team, check out this link for live race tracking.

3. Can I bring my dog?

While dogs are allowed at the race finish as long as they are on leash, please be aware that Marine Park is very crowded and noisy, so we don’t recommend you bringing your furry friend. PLEASE NOTE:  dogs will not be allowed in the beer garden. Also, don’t bring your cat. Cats notoriously hate organized team relay races, for obvious reasons.

4. What is the weather going to be like?

We can’t control the weather, but we’re hoping for sunshine. The race will be held rain or shine, so we advise checking in the morning and dressing appropriately.

5. Can I suggest an idea for a new leg of the race?

You can’t. But we did. Check out this video to see what we came up with! Spoiler Alert: none of our ideas were adopted into this year’s race but we are hopeful 2025 will be our year.

 

6. Where should I park?

While attending Ski to Sea and the adjacent Fairhaven Festival is a rite of passage for Whatcom County locals, the parking situation can be a challenge. To avoid the mayhem, we suggest using public transportation, walking, or riding your bike to Fairhaven. WTA’s red line bus (route 1) will run three times between downtown and Fairhaven. Four extra buses have been added for the day. Route 14 leaves downtown and hits Western Washington University’s C-lot before proceeding to Fairhaven. That route leaves every 45 minutes on race day. Cost is $1 each way or you can use a WTA bus pass. For more information on bus routes and schedules call 676-RIDE or visit www.ridewta.com.

If driving is a must, carpool with your friends if possible. If you want to park near the finish line, i.e. Marine Park, we suggest using the paid parking lot on 6th and Harris. The lot has paid parking available from 9 am-8 pm and all proceeds support Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition. There is also a park-by-donation lot at Sacred Heart Church (corner of 14th and Knox Avenue starting at 12:20 pm. All proceeds support Agape Service Project’s services to the farmworker community of Whatcom County.

7. When does the Beer Garden open?

The good news is the beer garden opens at 1 pm. The bad news? No dogs or children are allowed. The other good news: Boundary Bay Brewery is supplying four beers on tap in the beer garden including a brand-new Race Day IPA brewed specially for the event. Other beers on tap will include a pale ale, blonde, and scotch. Lost Giants cider and boxed wine will also be available. The other bad news: the beer garden closes promptly at 6:45 pm.

8. Is it true that some people run the race without using a vehicle or without different racers for each leg of the race?

Yes, both those things are true, and we were as shocked to learn them as you are! There are a variety of different race divisions, and all are highlighted at the award ceremony.

9. What food vendors will be there?

There will be many food vendors throughout the Fairhaven district on race day. At the finish line in Marine Park, here is a list of vendors to check out:
Bay City Ice Cream
Bry’s Filipino Cuisine
El Agave
Feast
It’s The Sweet Thing
Moe’s Gyros & Crab Cakes
Mt Baker Kettle Corn
Tam Tam Pizza

10. If I eat one item from each of the food vendors, do I win a prize?

We don’t have anything formally planned but that would be an impressive feat. Tell you what, if you bring a receipt from each food vendor to the Peoples Bank booth, we’ll hook you up with something special.

11. Where do I go to watch a specific leg of the race?

Cross-country Ski (4 miles) – The race starts at 7:30 am at the Mt. Baker Ski Area. Note that due to low snowpack, the XC ski leg for this year is not yet confirmed. Average time: 41 minutes.
Downhill Ski/Snowboard (2.5 miles) – Mt. Baker Ski Area beginning near the Day Lodge. Note that due to low snowpack, the XC ski leg for this year is not yet confirmed. Average time: 37 minutes.
Running (8 miles) – Mt. Baker Ski Area beginning by the Ski Shop and ending at the Shuksan DOT Station. Average time: 57 minutes.
Road Bike (41 miles) – Shuksan DOT Station to Riverside Park. Please note that there is no spectator parking at the DOT Shed. Spectactors can park at the Sno-Park 1/4 mile away. Average time: 2 hours and 8 minutes.
Canoe (18.5 miles) – Riverside Park to Hovander Park. Average time: 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Cyclocross Bike (11 miles) – Hovander Park in Ferndale to Squalicum Harbor. Average time: 1 hour and 23 minutes.
Sea Kayak (5 miles) – Squalicum Harbor to Marine Park. Average time: 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Total race is approximately 90 miles (145 km) and average finish time is 9 hours and 45 minutes

12. Can I participate in the Race?

No. Don’t be ridiculous, the teams filled up weeks ago. But it’s never too early to start planning for next year

13. Can I still get Ski to Sea merch even if I’m not a racer?

Of course! You can still remember the great times with hoodies, t-shirts, hats, and more. And yes, you can pay by card. Just visit the Ski to Sea merch booth located right next to ours.

14. What time is the awards ceremony?

The awards ceremony starts at 5 pm led by Master of Ceremony and Peoples Bank Assistant Marketing Manager extraordinaire, Will Butela!

15. Who should I contact if I have questions about the Race?

The Ski to Sea race is owned and operated by Whatcom Events, a volunteer-operated community 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. Contact them at info@skitosea.com or by phone at 360-746-8861. The Race Director, Anna Rankin, and Assistant Race Director, Aurielle Buermann, are both a delight. Highly recommend saying hello and thanking them for all the work they do to make the race happen!

16. What about volunteering to help out on race day, can I do that?

Remember Anna and Aurielle from earlier? They’re a good starting point. Helping out is great and we appreciate you asking us. The race certainly wouldn’t be possible without all of the amazing volunteers. Get more information here or contact Ski to Sea’s Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah Beck, at volunteer@skitosea.com.

17. What should I wear to watch the racers finish at Marine Park?

Follow your heart! We suggest a light jacket in case it gets windy by the water and some sunglasses in case you want to look cool ? Forgot your sunglasses? Come try your luck at the Peoples Bank prize wheel. You could win a new pair and rep your favorite local community bank!

18. What is the Fairhaven Festival?

The Fairhaven Festival is held by the Fairhaven Association. They will have a ton of great food and shopping vendors along with live music throughout the day which is definitely worth checking out. Go to their website to learn more.

19. Is there anything I can’t do down at Marine Park on race day?

While this isn’t a complete list, there are a number of things you shouldn’t do: Hangout on the train tracks, swim in the ocean, litter, fly a drone, get in the way of racers as they make their way to the finish line, incessantly list your top 30 Taylor Swift songs to the couple behind you in line as you wait to spin the prize wheel at the Peoples Bank booth.

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