Outdoors

Gearheads Galore

Recreation Northwest EXPO delivers the great outdoors

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recreation. If it’s not yet the number one industry in Whatcom County, it’s running way ahead of whatever’s in third place.

Meet the stewards, the outfitters and event sponsors of this year’s recreation calendar all in one place at the Recreation Northwest EXPO at the Best Western Plus Lakeway Inn. The event lets the public meet the healthcare professionals, nutrition experts, local gyms, personal trainers, bike shops, running stores, outfitters, outdoor media, outdoor activity clubs, stewardship organizations, and agents from your favorite local recreation events and races.

“This is a great opportunity for the local community to come together and see how many events and opportunities there are in our area,” said Lance Romo from Bellingham Parks and Recreation. “We will be there to talk with the public about our events, parks and opportunities for playing outside.”

Exhibitors include Bellingham Parks and Recreation RACES (Runnin’ O the Green, Padden Triathlon, Fairhaven Runners Waterfront 15K and more), Whatcom Events (Ski to Sea, Tour de Whatcom and Muds to Suds), Bellingham Bay Marathon, Run Like a Girl Half Marathon, Bellingham KIDS Traverse, Northwest Traverse Multi-Sport Series (Winthrop, Olympia and Bellingham), Backcountry Essentials, Klicks Running and Walking, Greater Bellingham Running Club (GBRC), Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC), Mount Baker Experience, Adventures NW Magazine, Sustainable Connections and Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism and many others.

Speakers include Heather Anderson, who holds the record for completing the Pacific Crest Trail Self-Supported fastest-known time, and Brandon Nelson, who recently set the Guinness Book of World Records 24-hour paddling record on Lake Padden. Both will share their stories and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

The EXPO is produced by Recreation Northwest, a Bellingham nonprofit organization dedicated to  producing sustainable events promoting public health and wellness; showcasing the recreational amenities; and connecting the business and nonprofit communities of the Pacific Northwest. It’s signature event, The PeaceHealth Bellingham Traverse, has grown over the past 12 years and has spread the concept to other communities in the Northwest including Winthrop and Olympia.

“In forming Recreation Northwest, we’ve achieved a big goal,” said Todd Elsworth, executive director of the organization. “Since I founded Bellingham Traverse in 2001, it has grown and evolved. Now it will benefit from the expertise of a diverse and talented board of directors, leading the organization to the next level.”

Elsworth said under the board’s leadership, and with the efforts of dedicated volunteers, the new organization is well equipped to pursue its goals of encouraging public health and the stewardship of open spaces through community recreation events. Recreation Northwest produces three multi-sport adventure relay races: Bellingham Traverse, Olympia Traverse and the new Bellingham Kids Traverse. The races take place on the streets and in the natural surroundings of each host city, and will attract up to 750 people.

Entering its 13th year, the Traverse has grown into one of the county’s most challenging events, drawing hundreds of competitors and raising money for organizations that benefit salmon and their habitat such as the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association and the Whatcom Land Trust. With the addition of PeaceHealth as a major sponsor, the Traverse is expanding into other cities and leverages Elsworth’s other endeavor, Recreation Northwest, an organization that promotes exercise and environmental awareness. A Kids Traverse held every year at Civic Stadium is aimed at keeping the area’s youth active and environmentally conscious.

Learn more about Recreation Northwest and the region’s upcoming events calendar at the Recreation Northwest EXPO.

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