For four years, only one other Whatcom Open division team has been faster

LYNDEN ­— Since first fielding a team in 2015, The Inn at Lynden has done no worse than ninth place in five years of the Ski to Sea Race.

That pattern was kept up in Sunday’s 2019 race, in which the team of seven took sixth place overall among the 400-plus teams and second in the Whatcom County Open division.

“We are so proud of those guys. They have done so well,” said Teri Treat, whose husband Matt has been the team organizer and is one of the canoers each year. “They are just a bunch of amazing guys.”

Matt and Teri Treat and Jeff and Debra McClure are co-owners of the 35-room boutique hotel in downtown Lynden.

The Inn at Lynden’s time was 6 hours, 30 minutes and 24 seconds — 25 minutes behind the neck-and-neck leaders Boomers Drive-In and Wenatchee Valley Brewing, first and second, just four seconds apart. Teams cross Whatcom County on a seven-leg, 94-mile course from the Mt. Baker Ski area to the finish bell at Fairhaven after the final sea kayak leg.

For the past four years, The Inn at Lynden has been stuck in second among the Whatcom County Open teams behind only Beavers Tree Service. 

The Inn team is actually good friends with Beavers, Teri Treat said, so it’s a friendly rivalry.

“It’s all a big support group. It’s an amazing effort,” she said. “They really love doing it.”

The Inn guys “all work out constantly,” so are definitely very physically fit but they aren’t professional or ex-Olympians, Treat said.

The team members this year were: Justin May, cross-country skiing; Mike Merrick, downhill skiing; Nate LeTavec, running; Jack Bardi, road biking; Eric Paige and Matt Treat, river canoing; Tom Schafer, cyclocross biking; and Jamie Klein, sea kayaking.

Bardi bicycling on the fourth leg, with a time of 1:23.41 covering 41 miles, vaulted The Inn at Lynden from 15th into sixth place, and his teammates in the next three legs kept up that position exactly. 

It was exactly those same seven teammates last year as The Inn at Lynden took fourth place overall.

In fact, big-name entrants Boomer’s Drive-In and Beavers Tree Service have been the only teams consistently ahead of The Inn at Lynden at the finish line over the last four years.

These are snapshots of teams at the bike-to-canoe transfer point in Everson’s Riverside Park from about 11:30 a.m. on:

  • Nicholas Weida and Seth Curtis are friends from having done medical residency together at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. Now they are both in family medicine in Massachusetts.

But they make time, with their young families, each May to be back in Washington for the Ski to Sea Race in Whatcom County. A group was cheering the pair of fathers of team 013, Swedish First Hill Legend, on to starting the river canoe leg together.

This team believes in the option of allowing team members to do more than one leg. Weida had just done the road biking leg and Curtis would do the cyclocross leg at the end of canoeing.

They have been part of a team in Ski to Sea for six years now.

  • Jack Armstrong of team DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) was one of many bikers, it seemed, who was waiting for a canoer teammate to be present at Riverside Park to pass his timing chip on to.

“[Team 197], your rider is here at the red tent” became a frequent refrain on the public address system across the grounds. 

His team of state Department of Natural Resources workers is mostly based at Sedro-Woolley, said Armstrong, who was himself in a skiing leg of Ski to Sea about 10 years ago, but this was his first biking effort. “I kind of thought we would be doing better,” he lamented.

Another team that drew attention at the Riverside exchange point for their obvious military markings was War Fighter Sports team 331.

John Clark, of the Whidbey Naval Air Station at Oak Harbor, said all the others on his team were from the Air Force, including Adam Popp, who lost his leg in Afghanistan and now uses a prosthetic leg.

Popp ran the eight-mile leg and would now be pairing up on the two-person canoe leg. 

This group from U.S. Military Endurance Sports is pulled together by Popp through Facebook and this year’s team included participants from Denver, Salt Lake City, New Mexico, Virginia Beach and Minnesota.