Ski to Sea race director Pete Coy on Friday, April 5, announced the formation of a new Car Free Division for the 2013 race on May 26.
"In prior years we have had several teams who have managed to compete without the use of cars, but now we have 11 Car Free teams so I have formed a new division," Coy said.
The addition of the Car Free Division will bring the total number of divisions to 15, as it will join the Open, Competitive Female, Competitive Mixed, Whatcom County Open, Whatcom County Female, Whatcom County Mixed, Recreational Open, Recreational Female, Recreational Mixed, High School, Masters, Veterans, Family and Corporate divisions.
Thoughts of doing the annual 93.5-mile, seven-leg relay race from Mt. Baker Ski Area to Bellingham Bay without the assistance of an automobile to shuttle team members and equipment around first started to surface after Ski to Sea formed a Green Team in 2008 and in 2009 challenged racers to find ways they could lessen the race's environmental impact.
One team, the Star Spangled Banana Slugs, volunteered that it was going to do the race without any cars. That meant the skiers and runner had to bicycle up the Mount Baker Highway to the Mt. Baker Ski Area parking lot the night before the race with all their equipment and other team members had to transport their canoes and kayaks - and themselves - to and from their respective legs on specially designed trailers for their bikes. Team members also had to ferry bikes around to the end of each leg so that racers could return home after completing their leg.
A year later three other teams joined the crusade.
Because of the extra effort and time involved, they began asking Coy and the race committee to form another division. Coy said he would do so when they had enough teams, and 11 now seems to be enough.
"I think it's pretty exciting," Coy said. "It shows that this is an environmentally conscious community. It shows that racers want to compete but don't want to increase their carbon footprint. I think it's pretty exciting, because the Ski to Sea Race is moving in a different direction."
Coy said rules have not yet been written as to what is permissible in the new division.
"It's all just happened so quickly - it just happened today," Coy said. "In the past, they've kind of policed themselves and formed their own rules not to utilize cars to transport their racers or equipment. I guess now all we have to do is put that in writing."
As of Friday afternoon, Coy said the 11 Car Free teams were just part of the 434 teams that already have registered at skitosea.com. With only 500 spots for eight-person teams available, Coy said he expects the race to be filled by the end of April.
This year, each individual must pay their own entry fee before a team is officially guaranteed a spot in the race. Early Bird registration runs through April 30 and costs $55 per individual or $60 per individual in the Corporate Division. On or after May 1, registration jumps to $66 per individual or $72 per individual in the Corporate Division.
The race also is seeking more than 600 volunteers for before, during and after this year's event.
Volunteer areas include assistance with marketing, preparing racer packets, photography, assistance with equipment, race timing, help at each race leg and take down after the race. All volunteers will receive an official 2013 Ski to Sea T-shirt. In addition there will be a Volunteer Appreciation Barbeque a week before the race.
Individuals can volunteer by filling out the volunteer form online at skitosea.com under the Volunteer tab. For questions, contact Maddy Hair at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 360-746-8861.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.