Ski to Sea

Ski to Sea: Alpine running leg breakdown


Year leg added to the race: 2015.

Where: From the White Salmon Lodge at Mt. Baker Ski Area to Heather Meadows.

Course length: About 3.3 miles.

Approximate time to complete: About 20-25 minutes for top runners, 30-40 minutes for everyone else.

Course description: A 7:30 a.m. blast will set runners in motion from the White Salmon Lodge and send them up a series of service roads and trails through Mt. Baker Ski Area to Heather Meadows — an elevation gain of approximately 600 feet. Runners will then make a clockwise loop on the pavement around Picture Lake before finishing at the Ski Shop.

Alpine running race chair: Roger Gresley.

Pre-race meeting: 7:10 a.m. in the parking lot of White Salmon Lodge.

Timing chip: Start with the timing chip, run the leg and hand off to the downhill runner. Alpine runners will not be swiping the timing chip at the end of their leg.



Mount Baker Highway will be closed at 7:30 a.m. at Canyon Creek Road in Glacier, going east toward the mountain. Any viewers, participants or additional support vehicles must pass Canyon Creek Road before then. The road will be closed westbound at 7:30 a.m. at Mt. Baker Ski Area’s Heather Meadows Day Lodge. No vehicles will be allowed to travel down the mountain before it reopens, which is expected to be around 9:30 a.m. this year.

Suggested departure time: 4:45 a.m.

Best place to watch the leg: Heather Meadows, where spectators can watch runners finish the climb from the White Salmon Lodge and cheer them on their loop around Picture Lake.


• With the 7:30 a.m. race start at 3,600 feet of elevation, don’t start the race cold. Steve Roguski, co-owner of Fairhaven Runners, suggests getting in a warmup to get a sweat going in clothes that will keep you warm. When it’s time to run, peel off your sweats and continue to stay warm and loose so you’re ready to go when the gun sounds and you aren’t carrying extra clothing.

• With only a little bit of pavement running, Roguski recommends a good trail-running shoe you feel comfortable in — something that is light for the uphill but gives enough cushion for downhill portions of the course. He also suggested knobby traction on the outsole to help runners grip and take turns on what could be a muddy course, and suggessted wearing a breathable hat and gloves.

• Roguski advises that runners “build into the race,” especially considering it’s an unfamiliar course. Runners should start with a pace they can run for awhile. If they’re still feeling good during the climb, they can pick up the pace. “It’s better to pass people at the end than to get passed,” he said.

• Roguski suggests visualizing a rope around your waist and somebody pulling you up. That not only helps you work up the hills, it also promotes proper running posture. He suggests leaning into the hill from the waist, not the head, and taking short, quick steps. “Think popcorn feet, with them popping off the ground,” he said. Roguski also suggests finding a nice rhythm for your breathing, and using your arms aggressively to help build momentum in your legs as you climb.