In search of Ski to Sea
What: Ski to Sea GoFundMe
WHEN: Through March 31
Cost: Give what you can; the goal is $10,000
Info: http://www.skitosea.com or www.gofundme.com
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Last spring, the skiers, snowboarders, runners, bicyclists, canoeists and kayakers who typically would’ve teamed up to propel themselves from the slopes of Mt. Baker to the open waters of Bellingham Bay on Memorial Day weekend were instead advised to stay home. Ski to Sea had been canceled on March 23 due to growing coronavirus concerns, but organizers were hopeful the relay race celebrating the wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities in our corner of the world would return the following May.
Alas, that was not to be. Whatcom Events—the volunteer-driven nonprofit that also hosts the Tour de Whatcom, Mt. Baker Hill Climb, and Trails to Taps Relay—sent out a press release in mid-February noting that after reviewing possible pathways to successfully pull off a 2021 race, they’d made a tough call to postpone the event for another year.
Efforts had included looking into adopting a new plan under Washington state’s guidelines for outdoor recreational events, having conversations with municipal partners, and asking former Ski to Sea team captains to take a short survey focused on whether they’d be up for getting fellow athletes on board. When questions had been asked and answered, they concluded it simply wasn’t feasible to revive the race at this juncture.
“This decision was not made lightly,” Whatcom Events Executive Director Anna Rankin explained. “It is based upon a host of considerations, including the inability to stage a race that would allow all of us to experience the personal camaraderie that is at the core of the event. The importance of this factor was highlighted by the results of our survey, which included an answer from more than half of the 263 respondents that they were unlikely or very unlikely to form a team under the current circumstances.”
Economics also played a role in the final determination, Rankin said. As a nonprofit, Whatcom Events’ goal is to renew the race under conditions that will allow it to survive and thrive in the future, and another shutdown or low turnout would be damaging to the bottom line. The 2020 cancellation already resulted in a $65,000 loss to the community nonprofit—not to mention the lack of charitable donations that since 2014 alone have returned a total of $113,900 to beneficiaries such as Lydia Place, multiple food banks, the Boys and Girls Club of Whatcom County, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, and many more.
To ensure Ski to Sea can pick up where it left off when it makes its return, Whatcom Events is reaching out to community members to help continue the race by donating to its “first and only” GoFundMe campaign. Running through March 31, the online fundraiser is hoping to secure at least $10,000 to ensure the race that for more than 45 years has been attracting athletes and supporters continues.
Money raised will cover a fraction of Whatcom Events’ rent and office expenses this year (their second with no income), and those who contribute $25 or more will have access to a bunch of merch such as stainless steel pint cups, custom-made caps, Ski to Sea tote bags, stickers and more (while supplies last).
Your assistance in ensuring the future of a beloved community event won’t go unnoticed. The campaign is doing well—at press time they’d raised more than $6,400 of the goal—but has stalled and could use a boost. With more than two weeks to go, you can help them cross the finish line, and perhaps exceed it. Then when it’s safe to do so, you can celebrate the victory together at the Boundary Bay Brewery beer garden.
“Your support would mean the world to us and the Bellingham/Whatcom County community to ensure that we can continue the legacy that is the Ski to Sea Race,” Rankin said. “We would be grateful for donations of any amount and appreciate you sharing this campaign far and wide.”
Photo from the 2019 start of Ski to Sea by Kenneth Kearney
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