Partly sunny skies, cool temps expected for Ski to Sea

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 24, 2013 

LASTCOURSE

Katie Black, left, picks up her team packet and shirts for Ski to Sea from Margie Sawyer Friday morning, May 24, 2013 next to the Barkley Boulevard Woods Coffee in Bellingham. About 30 people lined up at 10 a.m. to pick up their packets.

COLIN DILTZ — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Ski to Sea organizers spent the hours after the Skagit River bridge collapse on Interstate 5 telling the estimated 1,100 racers coming from the King County area to leave extra driving time as they made their way north for the race.

"It's going to add a little more time because it's going to be congested, but they'll manage," race director Pete Coy said of the alternate routes that out-of-the area racers must take to get to Whatcom County for the multi-sport relay that starts at Mt. Baker Ski Area and ends at Bellingham Bay.

He said there "was a little bit of panic at first" from people wondering how they were going to get to the county for the race on Sunday, May 26.

If current forecasts of cool temperatures with a chance of showers hold, participants can expect a good race day.

"Everything is looking good - a little bit of sun, a little bit of wind," said Larry Bussinger, who is keeping an eye on conditions in Bellingham Bay for the roughly five-mile kayak leg that ends the race.

Partly sunny weather is expected at the start of the race at Mt. Baker Ski Area, with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees. In Bellingham, where the race ends, a high of 63 degrees is expected.

"I think the racers would prefer it not be hot. I think their preference is it's a little bit cooler," Coy said.

There's plenty of snow on the mountain, and conditions are such that the snow should be harder and allow competitors to be faster, according to Andy Hatfield, mountain coordinator

About seven miles of new pavement on Mount Baker Highway should make for a smoother road bike segment, while mountain bike competitors shouldn't have to worry about slogging through mud.

"There is some amount, but it's really minimal," Mo Stewart, mountain bike co-chair, said of mud on the route.

Meanwhile, the Nooksack River likely will run low and slow - unless there's a downpour of rain or heat that melts enough snow to swell the river level, race organizers said.

"The river is continuing to drop. No real rain is falling and it's not extraordinarily hot," Tony Velasco, who's monitoring the Nooksack, said Friday.

Low river levels also could mean more obstacles for canoeists to avoid, such as stumps and snags they would have floated over if the river level were higher.

RACE PACKETS

Ski to Sea teams will get more time to pick up their race packets Saturday, May 25, because of traffic delays caused by the Thursday collapse of the Skagit River bridge on Interstate 5, race officials announced.

Racers now will be able to pick up their packets from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Regal Barkley Village movie theater in Bellingham.

Packets can be picked up directly in front of the theater at 3005 Cinema Place, off Barkley Boulevard.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

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