How it works: Cross-country skiing leg starts with a blast

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 1, 2012 

THE COURSE

Where: Mt. Baker Ski Area

Course length: Approximately four miles

Approximate time to complete: About 20 minutes for top finishers and 30 to 50 minutes for everybody else

Course description: After a blast sets a mass of 500 cross-country skiers in motion from the Ski Shop, competitors do three loops around various points of the ski area. The first goes near the top of Chair 2, while the second goes to the base of Chair 2. The final loop takes competitors beyond the Austin Pass Warming Hut before returning to the Heather Meadows Day Lodge for the first exchange.

Cross Country Ski race chair: Sue Hindman

Pre-race meeting: 7:15 a.m. at the Ski Shop.

Timing chip: The cross-country skier must remember to start with the timing chip. Cross-country skiers will ski their leg, swipe the timing chip to record their finish time and then pass the chip to the downhill skier/snowboarder.

WHAT'S NEW

Finish line: To help get a more accurate reading of times at the end of the leg, the finish line has changed slightly from past years. Race director Pete Coy said there will be a little bit of an uphill push at the finish, which, he said, "I'm sure the racers will love."

TRAVEL AND VIEWING ADVICE

Mount Baker Highway will be closed at 7:30 a.m. at Canyon Creek Road in Glacier, going east toward the mountain. Any viewers, participants or additional support vehicles that want to go to the top of the mountain must pass Canyon Creek Road before then.

The road will be closed westbound at 7:30 a.m. at the Mount Baker Heather Meadows Day Lodge and will not reopen until 9:30 a.m. No vehicles will be allowed to travel down the mountain before it reopens.

After 9:30 a.m. and for the duration of the running leg, vehicles traveling down Mount Baker Highway (west) will be dispersed in groups of 10 to 15, with police escort to ensure the safety of the participants. All drivers must stay in the left-hand lane, as the right lane will be reserved for runners. Dispersal is based on the flow of the race and may be delayed in case of emergency or other safety conditions.

Best place to watch the leg: Heather Meadows Day Lodge at Mt. Baker Ski Area, where spectators can see the start of the race and the skiers make their loops around the course before handing off to the downhill skier/snowboarder.

TIPS FOR THE RACE

• The weather on Mount Baker is unpredictable. Bring clothing for any occasion, including sunglasses in case the sun is out and is reflecting off the snow.

• Get to bed early the night before. The race starts at 8 a.m. and there is a 7:15 a.m. pre-race meeting. Experienced competitors suggest leaving Bellingham no later than 5 a.m.

• If you aren't one of the best skiers in the race, don't try to snatch a starting spot at the front of the pack.

• The race is a mass start, which means 500 racers will be trying to elbow their way to the front. Watch out for competitors' ski poles and be prepared to get knocked around a little, and even possibly take a spill.

TOP GUNS

Male winners

2008: Brian Gregg (Team Islagiatt) 19:00

2009: Brian Gregg (Team Islagiatt) 16:50

2010: Ivan Babikov (Boss Construction) 18:15

2011: Brian Gregg (Barron Heating) 16:26

Female winners

2008: Dasha Gaiazova (Boundary Bay Brewery) 21:44

2009: Sarah Konrad (ThorAppliances.com) 20:25

2010: Sarah Konrad (Dr. Hogan's Heroes) 22:18

2011: Brooke Gosling (Boundary Bay) 20:05

SOURCE: SKI TO SEA

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