Four ultra-runners will leave a beach off Cornwall Avenue on Friday, June 5, as part of a 108-mile run, hike and climb from Bellingham Bay to Mount Baker and back.
If they succeed, it will be just the second time the route has been completed out of the five attempts organized by Bellingham utlra-marathoner Daniel Probst, who has taken part in all five efforts going back to 2013.
Probst, California resident Beat Jegerlehner and Bellingham resident Aaron Poh were able to do the entire route last August in 48 hours, 17 minutes. Probst initially just wanted to show that the endurance challenge could be done.
This year, he’s adding a goal of doing so in 32 hours.
“This will be nonstop, no sleep and do it as fast as we possibly can,” said Probst, who handles production and development for Trail Insight, which makes trail-building tools.
The other runners will be Poh, Bellingham resident Suzanne Lundberg and Bellevue resident Gavin Woody, past president of The Mountaineers in Seattle.
Lundberg was among the group of eight runners who tried and failed to complete the route last June. Bad weather prevented the group from summiting Mount Baker. Lundberg’s schedule didn’t allow her to go again when Probst launched the next try in August.
“It’s been my year-long regret. I’ve been really excited to be on the team again,” the 30-year-old Bellingham resident said.
For Lundberg, the venture is about meeting a challenge — one she’s eager to take on.
“I like to push my physical boundaries,” said Lundberg, who is the activity coordinator for We Creations, a program of Northwest Youth Services. “I am excited out of my socks. It’s all I’ve been thinking about lately.”
Probst, the founder of running group Cascade Mountain Runners, has been organizing the adventure runs for a number of reasons:
▪ He wanted to pay tribute to the Mount Baker Marathon, a competition that lasted from 1911 to 1913 and was the forerunner of the Ski to Sea race.
▪ He’s bringing attention to his effort to launch a new 100-mile footrace, called the Mount Baker Ultra Marathon.
▪ He is building support for the proposed Bellingham-Mount Baker Trail, which would connect the city’s shoreline to the Easton Glacier on Mount Baker and parallel the route the four runners are taking starting on Friday.
The proposed trail would link the future park off Cornwall Avenue on the waterfront, Whatcom Falls Park, the reconveyance land that’s been dubbed the new Lake Whatcom Park, the town of Acme, South Fork Park, to the historic Mount Baker Marathon route up the middle fork of the Nooksack River and connect to the Ridley Creek Trail on to Easton Glacier.
It would provide more than 50 miles of multi-use trails for the public, Probst said.
He’s continuing his efforts to launch his ultra marathon over that route but needs Congressional approval to use the Ridley Creek Trail — a little over 2 miles of the trail is all that remains of the original trail used in the Mount Baker Marathon — for the race because it’s in wilderness. Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville and Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws have written letters of support, asking that a race be allowed to cross wilderness.
Until then, Probst plans to use an alternate route for a race he hopes to launch June 2016, with registration possibly starting in fall. That route would take racers out the South Fork River Valley and up to Schriebers Meadow in Mount Baker National Recreation Area, he said.
As for this year’s 108-mile effort, it coincides with National Trails Day on June 6 as part of Probst’s work to bring more public attention and support to build the Bellingham-Mount Baker Trail. It starts on another important day as well.
“We’ll be leaving on National Donut Day and returning on National Trails Day,” Probst said with a laugh.
Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRACK THE RUNNERS
Four ultra runners will start their 108-mile run, hike, climb from Bellingham Bay to the summit of Mount Baker and back at 8 p.m. Friday, June 5.
They will leave from the beach off Cornwall Avenue near East Pine Street in downtown Bellingham, and hope people will meet them there starting at 7:45 p.m. to send them off. Or see the runners as they pass by Kulshan Brewing’s second location, 1538 Kentucky St. in Bellingham, around 8:15 p.m. Friday.
Track the runners’ efforts by going to beultra.com/routes/main_new.php?course=SeaToBaker.
Updates also will be posted on the Facebook page for Cascade Mountain Runners.
Their goal is to complete the route in 32 hours.
Kulshan Brewing and Rocket Donuts are the two main sponsors of the effort. Kulshan Brewing will drive a support van for the runners.
HELP SOUGHT TO REBUILD TRAIL
Daniel Probst, a Bellingham ultra-runner, is among a number of people working to restore the Ridley Creek Trail in the Mount Baker Ranger District.
A little over 2 miles of the trail is all remains of the original trail used in Mount Baker Marathon, Probst said, which was the precursor to today’s Ski to Sea race.
The community effort to rebuild what had been an almost-lost trail started in 2014. The work is a combined effort of Cascade Mountain Runners, which Probst started, as well as the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington Trails Association.
Volunteers are needed to help restore the trail this weekend. Washington Trails Association will host work parties for the trail Saturday and Sunday.