A family-oriented race that mimics the journey of the Northwest’s iconic wild salmon moves this year to Squalicum Creek Park, a setting organizers say is uniquely suited to the event’s message.
Bellingham Kids Traverse parallels the Bellingham Traverse, a grueling race for adults, said Todd Elsworth, executive director of the nonprofit Recreation Northwest, which organizes the event. But this race is easier physically and encourages children to have fun playing together outdoors, Elsworth said.
“It’s a fundraising event to support stewardship and education about native salmon and their recovery,” he said. “We just wanted the kids to have as much fun as as the adults do.”
Start times are 10 a.m. and noon Sunday, June 26. Race director is Jen Gallant, of the Whatcom Family YMCA.
For the race, 6- to 12-year-olds run solo (chinook) or in team categories such as tandem (coho) or relay (chum). Events include a 1-mile run, 1 1/2 -mile bike ride, half-mile obstacle course and a 400-yard sprint to the finish. The course is a mostly level mix of grass, dirt and gravel in the park featuring Willow Creek, which is undergoing restoration as a historical salmon-bearing stream.
The top three finishers in each age group receive awards and all finishers get a Kids Traverse medal and Mallard ice cream or a Boundary Bay Brewery root beer float. Entry fees start at $30.
“Each stage is an evolution in the development of their life journey,” Elsworth said, noting how salmon are hatched, swim to sea, avoid predators and finally rage against the current in the stream of their birth in a mad dash to reproduce.
“A lot of people make their own team shirts. It’s good camaraderie,” he said. “We’re looking to show off the new park and its connection to Willow Creek,” a nearby salmon stream that is undergoing restoration. Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association is a partner this year, in an effort to “tell a bigger story,” Elsworth said.
“We don’t look at it specifically as a race. It’s more for kids and families to get outside. You don’t have to be a racer.”