BELLINGHAM — Ian Mackenzie had been in this position before.
Racing into Bellingham Bay with the lead in the final leg of Ski to Sea, the ClipperCanoes.com kayaker recalled last year’s disappointment.
“Barron caught me last year,” Mackenzie said. “That was right in the front of my mind, and I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”
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Mackenzie rang the bell at Marine Park in Fairhaven at 2:13 p.m. on Sunday, less than a minute before Barron Heating kayaker Reid Hyle clambered onto shore.
“I got into the water about a minute, maybe less, after (Mackenzie),” Hyle said. “I made up some time, but his lead was too big.”
ClipperCanoes.com finished the 82.5-mile, seven-leg relay race in five hours, 43 minutes and eight seconds.
“This is satisfying,” said Lynne Smith, general manager of Clipper Canoes and team organizer. “That’s how I recruited these guys. I told them we had a chance to win.”
In the past two races ClipperCanoes.com finished second to Barron Heating Open, which was going for an unprecedented fourth straight overall title. TeamForACause.com was third for the second year in a row.first three paragraphs oRunningShoes.com won the Whatcom County division, and Boundary Bay claimed the women’s division title for the fourth straight year.
ClipperCanoes.com mountain biker David Kvick gave his team the lead. He passed Barron’s Dan Bass when they reached the gravel beach. Bass said he put his head down to concentrate on “grinding it out.”That’s when Kvick took off.
“I looked up, you hit a spurt,” Bass said, congratulating Kvick after the leg. “Nice work.”
Barron had led nearly the entire race to that point. Downhill skier Morgan Titus took the handoff in third place, but was in first when he passed off to runner Keefer Whan.
The Burlington runner maintained a three-minute advantage over second-place RunningShoes.com when he handed off to road biker Ian Tubbs. But with Tubbs out in front all by himself, a chase pack formed and worked together to gain ground on Tubbs.
“Kenny Williams from Clipper Canoes and I were working together to catch Barron,” said Logan Wetzel, road biker for RunningShoes.com. “Kenny dumped me, though, when he got close and took off.”
Williams didn’t quite catch Tubbs, but made up two minutes, which proved to be valuable. He handed off to canoeists Ron Williams and Jonas Hudson, who kept pace with Barron’s John Mooney and Brad Bauer.
“Our biker is a strong biker,” Williams said after the leg. “We just hope we make up some there.”Kvick answered those hopes, giving the Abbotsford, B.C.-based company the lead and Mackenzie held it, paddling across the “fairly mild” waters of Bellingham Bay.
“I coughed up the lead last year,” the Victoria, B.C., resident said. “Not this year.”
Editor's note: The race time for the ClipperCanoes.com team has been corrected in this story.