The Mallory men from Bellingham have made Ski to Sea history even before the race.
A new rule permitting athletes to compete on multiple legs in 2018 gave the outdoors-loving Michael and sons team the chance to fulfill their dream to become the classic race’s first four-man team.
“As of May 1, the Mallory family was the first team to enter with four athletes,” said race director Anna Rankin, who is also executive director of Whatcom Events, which puts on the race.
“We are pumped!” shouted the youngest of the Mallory men, 21-year-old Cannon Mallory.
The others are father Michael Mallory, 52; oldest son Ryan, 25; and middle son A.J., 23. They are, of course, in the Family Division.
Sister Shannon Mallory, 19, an outstanding cyclocross racer, will ride for a veteran competitive women’s team, Michael said in an email.
“The boys and I kind of got bored with the one-leg, one-racer format (with two racers on the canoe leg), especially after doing triathlons and such,” Michael said. “So this year we decided to do a four-man team.”
Cannon said the family has been enthusiastic about that concept for a while.
“For sure, we have always wanted to do it,” said Cannon, who is finishing his junior year at the University of Washington.
Ryan works in San Francisco in high tech. A.J., whose ambition is to become a doctor, is also studying at UW.
Cannon said the team is ready and able.
“We’re going to compete as hard as we can,” he said. “We’ve all been training and we’re all fit.”
Michael says the team will have “a new dynamic” this year.
“This year we have not just Mom (Kimberly), but significant others helping with the support,” he wrote.
Michael said A.J. will handle the cross country ski leg, followed by Ryan on what Michael calls the “shoes ski” (downhill), A.J. on the running leg and Michael on the road bike leg.
Michael and Cannon will follow on the canoe leg, with Cannon then on the cyclocross leg and Ryan “bringing it home in the sea kayak,” as his father put it. “Yeah! Great family fun!”
“It’s like an Olympic triathlon and similar to a half-Ironman,” Michael wrote.
“Our family has done the junior and adult Ski to Sea numerous times,” he wrote. “(We) even podiumed an occasion, especially in the teen division.”
The family figures it may well have a winning formula.
“… It’s all about steady pace, solid power output, nutrition and hydration,” Michael wrote. “The transition will be weird (for him). I’m doing road bike and canoe legs, so I’m thinking ‘Just hop in the boat with my bike kit (instead of) a quick gear switch.’ We’ll see.
“The best news: there will be beer at the end of each racer’s second leg!”
Rankin said the Whatcom Events Board of Directors made the change in order to accommodate teams with fewer than the traditional eight athletes, including teams that in the past would be forced to scramble or drop out if an athlete became unavailable because of injury and so on.
“Some people just want to do multiple legs as a personal challenge,” she said. “As of May 1, we had 46 athletes signed up to do multiple legs. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have 45 more teams entered (as of May 1) than last year.”