Recreation Northwest

Run & Radio Hour with Christopher McDougall – Thursday, May 21st

Natural Born Heroes author Christopher McDougall will be leading a group run on Thursday afternoon at 4:30 pm before the Chuckanut Radio Hour event at 6:30pm.

Run with Chris McDougall

Start/Finish: Archers Ale House
1212 10th Street, Fairhaven
4:30 pm.
Join Christopher (and YMCA’s Jen Gallant) for a run along Taylor Dock and the South Bay Trail to Boundary Bay Brewery and back to Archers for a 5 mile run.
Join the Facebook Event.

Chuckanut Radio Hour

 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Heiner Theater at Whatcom Community College
237 W. Kellogg Rd
Bellingham, WA 98226

Chuckanut Radio Hour with Christopher McDougall, author of Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance

While researching Born to Run, Chris McDougall encountered the story of Pheidippides, the legendary ancient Greek “all-day runner. See full article.


1st Race of 2015 – Bellevue Weeknight AR

The Quest Adventure Race Team had a great start to the 2015 racing season with strong finishes at the first in a series of 4 weeknight adventure races put on by Krank Events. Brent and I formed a team of two for the race. The race took place on the roads, trails, and urban parks around Bellevue and had a 3 hour time limit…making it feel like more of a sprint compared to the more typical half-day or longer races.  We met at 6:30pm near the start/finish for the pre-race briefing, maps were distributed at 6:40, and in typical adventure race “ready or not, the race is starting now” form, the race was underway at 7:00 sharp.

There never seems to be enough time to put good thought into planning the fastest route to collect all the checkpoints, and these weeknight races are no exception.  In fact, they feel far more rushed most of the time. Luckily, we were barely able to finish tracing our intended route on our maps with highlighters and get to the start with only seconds to spare.

The first 5 or so minutes of the race were spent doing a short “Blind-O” (the “O” stands for orienteering).  Each team was given a small piece of paper with 4 clues, each with multiple choice answers.  Each clue was the location of a checkpoint.  No map required for the Blind-O.  The clues were simple and would read something like “NW corner of building, small shrub” or “S end of parking lot, letters on post”.  We would simply run to the shrub, post, or wherever the clue led us, and look for a ribbon with a word on it, or in the case of the post example, simply read the letters on the post, and HOPEFULLY, the word, letters, or whatever we were looking for, matched one of the multiple choice answers on our sheet of paper.  If so, we’d circle the correct answer and move on to the next.  If not, we’d keep looking.  Once we got all 4, we ran back to the start, handed the paper to a race official who took a quick look to make sure we’d answered correctly, and were cleared to head out on our bikes.

The Blind-O was very easy and took most teams about 5 minutes to complete. It is fairly common for adventure races to start with a short challenge such as this as a way to spread teams out a little before they head out after the main checkpoints.

The rest of the race was laid out as a short bike to a remote transition area, where we left our bikes and continued on foot for almost an hour, and then we finished up with a second, longer bike section, connecting urban parks and eventually making our way back to the finish.  There were regular checkpoints (if you miss them, a time penalty is added to your finish time) and pro-checkpoints (if you get them, a time bonus is deducted from your time).  The size of the time bonus depends on how difficult/out of the way that checkpoint is.  There are severe time penalties for finishing after the cutoff, which for this race was 10pm.

The first bike section was quick, and took us 4-5 miles north to Bridle Trails State Park, collecting 2 regular CP’s and 1 pro CP along the way. These weeknight races feel FAST!  There was no time to stop and look at the map.  Trying to read a map while riding your bike (and trying to ride fast) is not easy to do.  It is very easy to miss a road and end up wasting time trying to find where you went wrong.  Finding a balance between moving fast and taking time to study the maps is extremely important, and these short races are a great way to practice finding that balance.

We pulled into the parking lot at Bridle Trails and at least half the teams’ bikes were there already.  We knew that not all the teams had gotten the pro CP on the first bike section, but we knew that some had, and that there were probably some teams ahead of us.  We ditched our bikes, turned on our lights, and headed into the woods.  We were able to stick mostly to trails and did one short bushwhack to collect all 11 regular and 3 pro CP’s on the trekking section in what we felt to be the quickest way possible.  Our navigation was pretty solid since we both had maps and whoever was running in second could follow along and double check the leader.

As we neared our bikes we saw several teams pedaling off out of the transition area. Like before, we really didn’t know who had gotten what checkpoints. We knew we had gotten all regular and pro CP’s up to that point, but there was really no way to tell what place we were in. That’s just how adventure racing works though. You don’t know what place you got until the race is over and all the team passports have been scored.

The second bike was quite a bit longer than the first, and took nearly an hour and a half to complete. We spent most of the time riding on roads, from one urban park to the next, where the CP’s often were hidden. There were a few trails mixed in as well. At one point, we accidentally rode right past a checkpoint, heading towards the next one. We both had our maps in front of us, and both made the same mistake. Luckily, we realized our error quickly and only had to backtrack about a half mile to the CP we’d missed.

Several CP’s later, we had a little trouble locating the actual ribbon with the answer on it. Usually, if you are in the correct general location, locating the ribbon, sign, or whatever you’re looking for, is very easy and obvious. However, one of the ribbons in this race had gotten partially covered in some vines on the ground, so we wasted about 10 minutes (along with at least a dozen other people) looking for it.

After the final CP, with only 6 minutes to get to the finish, we ran into our final unanticipated challenge. We were on a trail very close to the finish, when we came across a chain link fence and locked gate blocking the trail. Maps don’t always show all the details you might encounter. We took a quick look at the map, and determined it would take us too long to backtrack and find another way around, so Brent climbed over the fence, I handed the bikes over, and then climbed over myself. We were in the parking lot for an apartment complex, and were only about a minute from the finish, which we reached with only 4 minutes to spare before the 10:00 cutoff.

We were a little cold and wet, as it had been misting for most of the race, but we had a great time on a fun course and enjoyed chatting with other teams at the finish while sipping on hot cocoa and eating some tasty chili and assorted post-race snacks. We had a great time talking to some other Quest adventure racers from Bellingham, Stephen and Mitch, about how their race had gone. It was their first adventure race and they had a great time as well.

Results were posted the next day, and were excited to see that we were the only team to reach all regular and pro CP’s and had just barely managed to pull off the win. Stephen and Mitch finished near the middle of pack in 10th place, certainly a great finish considering it was their first race.

The next race on the Quest team calendar is the second in the Krank Events weeknight series, on May 12th at Tokul in Fall City, WA. There should be plenty of singletrack trail in that race. We’re looking forward to it. If you’re in the Bellingham area and are interested in finding our more about what adventure racing is all about, be sure to check out our orienteering practice night on Wednesday, May 6th at Fairhaven Park. Please RSVP first if you’re interested. Details HERE!


Whatcom Recreation Economy Study Released by Recreation Northwest

Contact Information:
Todd Elsworth, Executive Director
Recreation Northwest


Report: Outdoor Recreation Generates $705 Million in Annual Spending in Whatcom County

Study of outdoor recreation’s economic impact in Whatcom County
also reveals creation of over 6,500 jobs.

BELLINGHAM, WA, April 21, 2015—Recreation Northwest, Whatcom County, City of Bellingham, Port of Bellingham and Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism announce the findings of a groundbreaking new study: The Economic Contribution of Outdoor Recreation to Whatcom County, Washington.

The study, conducted by Earth Economics, builds on a statewide Recreation Economic Impact study commissioned by the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office. For Whatcom County, Earth Economics studied economic contributions in three areas: outdoor recreation expenditures, recreation businesses and ecosystems services in recreational lands.

RecSpendingThe study revealed that each year, residents and visitors spend $705 million on outdoor recreation in Whatcom County, ranking it eighth-highest in the state for such expenditures. This spending supports a total of 6,502 jobs. Whatcom County boasts a total of 14 million participant days in outdoor recreation, with residents averaging 71.8 participant days一well above the state average of 59 days per year.

“Recreation is critical to Bellingham and Whatcom County,” said Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville. “Recreational opportunities not only highlight our beautiful region, but they also help create jobs, attract talented professionals and build our regional reputation as a healthy place to live, work and play.”    

Total Whatcom County expenditures were highest for recreation in public waters, with approximately $132 million in annual spending throughout the county. “Whatcom County provides easy access to some of the best cruising waters in the world,” said Rob Fix, Executive Director at the Port of Bellingham. “The Port continues to have strong demand for marina slips, and the marine-trades businesses that support recreational boaters are thriving.”

Two hundred seventy-nine recreation-related business were identified in Whatcom County, including retailers, manufacturers, service providers and more, with total 2014 revenue of $508 million, supporting 3,728 jobs. Gear wholesalers, recreational boat builders and boat dealers are the top three sectors, according to annual sales. Between direct, indirect and induced effects of employment, labor income, value added and output, Whatcom County recreation businesses have a $389 million total impact.

Added Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws, “Whatcom County’s abundant natural beauty is a huge draw for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. This study draws the positive correlation between our scenic landscape and its impact on local businesses and our overall economy.”

“Bellingham and Whatcom County have long enjoyed a strong reputation as an outdoor recreation destination,” said April Claxton, Executive Manager of Recreation Northwest. “The findings of this study confirm recreation’s economic impact, and will hopefully inspire us all to protect our beautiful mountains, waters and forests.”

The Economic Contribution of Outdoor Recreation to Whatcom County:

Download the Full Report

Download the Full Report

Download the Factsheet

Download the Factsheet


About Recreation Northwest

Recreation Northwest is a Bellingham, Washington based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting outdoor recreation, and bringing people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. Through partnerships with local businesses and organizations, we work to raise awareness of our public green spaces and their inhabitants, including one of the Northwest’s most revered symbols—the salmon. Recreation Northwest produces Bellingham Traverse; the Quest Adventure Races; the Race Directors Summit; and the Recreation Northwest EXPO. Learn more at


About Earth Economics

Earth Economics is an independent, non-partisan non-profit dedicated to demonstrating the true value of natural assets through economic analysis, policy recommendations and tools that are robust, science-based and ecologically sound.  Working with leading ecologists, economists and modelers, we serve a large circle of non-profits, government agencies, policy makers, businesses, and multi-lateral organizations with research, reports, presentations, workshops and investigations. Our goal is to positively transform regional, national and international economics, and asset accounting systems, and to help communities move towards an approach that is both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.


Washington Recreation and Conservation Office Study, 2015:

Economic Benefits of Outdoor Recreation in Washington Fact Sheet

Economic Benefits of Outdoor Recreation in Washington full report


Recreation Northwest Presents 2nd Annual EXPO

Contact Information:

Todd Elsworth

Executive Director

Recreation Northwest




Recreation Northwest Presents 2nd Annual EXPO

Free Bellingham WA event for outdoor recreation groups and enthusiasts offers opportunities to network, share ideas and learn from inspiring speakers.

BELLINGHAM, Wash., February 20, 2015Recreation Northwest announces the second annual Recreation Northwest EXPO will take place Thursday, March 12, 2015 at the Lakeway Inn in Bellingham, Washington.

The EXPO brings together the best of the region’s outdoor recreation organizations, companies and enthusiasts, along with informative and inspiring speakers, for learning, networking, and idea sharing.

The event begins at 4:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Attendees can take advantage of one-on-one time with representatives from local and regional events and races, as well as bike and running shops, outfitters, outdoor activity clubs, stewardship organizations, sports health professionals and outdoor media companies.

This year’s EXPO keynote speakers are:

Krissy Moehl, an ultra trail runner originally from Bow, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colo. and races all over the world, including Race Directing the Chuckanut 50K.

Pulitzer Prize winner William Dietrich and the North Cascades Institute’s Christian Martin, authors of The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby.

“Bellingham’s reputation as a destination for outdoor recreation continues to grow,” said Todd Elsworth, Executive Director of Recreation Northwest. “We produce the EXPO because folks needed a way to gather as a community and see what’s available out there. Exhibitors and attendees love the EXPO atmosphere, the speakers and the many opportunities to celebrate our healthy Northwest lifestyle.”

EXPO guests can register onsite or online to win door prizes, including race entries, excursions, gift certificates and gear from exhibitors such as:

Bellingham Parks and Recreation


Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures

San Juan Sailing

American Alpine Institute

Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics

Kulshan Cycles


Fairhaven Runners

Muds to Suds

Village Books

REI Bellingham

Bellingham Bay Marathon

“Our goal for EXPO is to bring everybody in outdoor recreation together in one place, stand back and let them go nuts,” said Elsworth. “Thanks to sponsors like Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, Port of Bellingham, KAFE Radio and The Best Western Lakeway Inn, we are accomplishing that goal, and amazing things are happening in outdoor recreation here in Whatcom County.”

The Recreation Northwest EXPO is free and open to the public. Learn more about the March 12, 2015 EXPO by visiting Sign up online to win door prizes at the event, and check out the list of exhibitors and the bios of the featured speakers. Watch our video to see what people had to say last year: 2015 Recreation Northwest EXPO (video).

About Recreation Northwest
Recreation Northwest is a Bellingham, Washington–based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting outdoor recreation, and bringing people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. Through partnerships with local businesses and organizations, we work to raise awareness of our public green spaces and their inhabitants, including one of the Northwest’s most revered symbols—the salmon. Recreation Northwest produces the Bellingham Traverse, Bellingham KIDS Traverse; the Quest Adventure Races; the Race Directors Summit; and the Recreation Northwest EXPO. Learn more at



2014 EXPO photo library.

Click photo below for high-resolution.




We are preparing to submit our application for a City of Bellingham Signature Event tourism grant. The areas of focus for Bellingham’s tourism economy include:

  1. Recreation – Biking, Boating, Skiing
  2. Outdoors – Bellingham Bay, Lake Whatcom, Mount Baker
  3. Food – Locally grown and produced
  4. Arts and Culture – Performing, Visual, Heritage

This is our proposal. Let us know if you want in early. We’ll let you know if we get it.


Thursday, March 3rd – Saturday, March 5th
Bellingham, WA.

The Initiative
Momentum is building in Washington for outdoor recreation and tourism as driving forces for the state’s economy. Last September the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force reported in its’ Final Recommendations to Governor Inslee that “We stand poised at a critical moment in time. We can, and must act now to ensure the stewardship of our parks and public lands, to inspire our children to live a life grounded in recreation in the great outdoors, and to nurture a vital and growing business sector.” The Task Force also recognized that “recreating outside leads to people placing value on natural places and believing it is important to keep them available for today’s and future generations.”

Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office recently released the much anticipated and needed study Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State. The report is the first comprehensive analysis of the recreation economy in Washington. The annual statewide impact is enormous- resulting in $21.6 billion dollars spent annually on recreation trips and equipment. Recreation Northwest will be releasing a “deeper-dive” local study Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Whatcom County in April. We are excited to share this both locally and regionally.

As members of The Big Tent Outdoor Recreation Coalition and the Washington Tourism Alliance, we are aligning ourselves to support the economic initiative to help these significant industries grow and thrive. In our research, there is no regional event to convene these passionate parties. Our organization, Recreation Northwest, plans to provide a forum for supporting the initiative of robust recreation and tourism economies in our state and region.

2016 OUTDOOR RECREATION SUMMIT will offer an annual three-day event to inspire, educate and connect the various audiences to keep the initiative moving forward. More than ever we are looking for collaboration and solutions.

Who Will Attend?
The OUTDOOR RECREATION SUMMIT will bring recreation retailers, media and manufacturers, tourism representatives, land managers, race directors, economic developers, stewardship and trail building organizations and others working together to inspire a thriving outdoor recreation economy in Washington State. Mark your calendar.

Positive Outcomes
The Summit will bring citizens, communities and businesses together to explore and share ways to grow and promote our flourishing recreation economy. Valuable networking connections and time to get out enjoy the plentiful outdoor recreation amenities highlighting Bellingham as one of the Northwest’s premier recreation destinations to visit, live, work and play. It’s important to play nice with others!

Join Us
We will bring an incredible selection of world-class thought leaders and outdoor industry professionals from across a variety of fields. Hope you can join the fun.



Thursday, March 3rd – Saturday, March 5th  
Bellingham, WA.

DRAFT Agenda & Dates

Thursday, March 3rd – Recreation Northwest EXPO

Local and Regional Recreation Businesses and Organizations as exhibitors (50) and EXPO attendees (800). Free for the Public.  

The EXPO allows people to meet recreation industry professionals face to face. Outfitters, Tours, Health & Wellness, Stewardship & Outdoor Activity Organizations, Races, Media and Sponsors.

Featured Speakers are open to both the public and Summit attendees.

Friday, March 4th – Outdoor Recreation Conference
Summit Attendees (150) participating as representatives of the outdoor recreation economy in manufacturing, retail, land managers, tourism, and related industry ecosystem services from around the state and region.

The interactive conference will be a day full of local food and drink, keynote speakers, peer networking and energized breakout sessions in downtown Bellingham, WA. Abundant hotel and local transportation options for conference attendees. The evening will provide networking and dinner around downtown Bellingham. Attendees and the public will have time to explore and enjoy an outdoor recreation themed Art Walk in the on display in local businesses.


Topic tracks may include:

What does the Future of the Outdoor Industry Hold?

-Creating a Culture of Outdoor Activity
-Encouraging Visitors to Play & Stay
-Race Director College
-In the Balance: Conservation & Recreation
-Strategic Marketing for the New Outdoor Consumer
-Inspiring Kids to be Active
-Starting a Recreation Business – Lessons Learned
-Climate Change & the Impact on Recreation
-Development of the Local Recreation Economy in Rural Areas
-Playing Nice With Others – Case Studies of Cross-Promotion

Saturday, March 5thLocal Events & Excursions
Summit Attendees and their families

Guided Activities: mountain bike rides, trail runs, hikes, road bike rides, paddles and urban walks will be held throughout the day for various fitness and skill levels.

Stewardship Work Parties: WMBC trails on Galbraith, NSEA restoration on Whatcom Creek or others.

Tours of local businesses: McNett, SMC, Nuu-Muu, Transition Bikes, NuCanoe, Trail Insight and more.  

Basecamp Bellingham: Attendees may also chose to participate in local races and events.

Excursions will wrap-up with more networking and pints at local breweries on the Bellingham Tap Trail.


Editorial Note: Thank you Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit for leading the way.

Phase One Trail Stewardship Project Donors

We had 92 donors help us surpass our $30,000 goal. Donations came from our board of directors, families, friends, racers, local businesses and park neighbors. We are proud to have them as the foundation for our success.

Phase One Trail Stewardship Project Donors

Fairhaven Lions

NW Trails – Gerry Wilbour

Welch Ecological Services

Wilson Engineering

Applied Research Northwest- Pamela Jull

Boundary Bay Brewery – Ed Bennett & Janet Lightner

Andy Wickstrand

Donna Moreno

Kulshan Brewery – David Vitt

David Laws

Kurt Baumgarten

Charlie Maliszewski

Christoph & Geraldine Reitz

Duane Jager & Christine Gibbs

Adam Lent

Al Ragan

Betsy Bierer

Mike & Diana Claxton

Kay Yates

Jessica Pursell

Joe Yaver

Emily Reiman

Amy McIlvaine

Betsy Hanusa

Chuck & Dee Robinson

Tammy Bennett

Christopher Grannis

Steve & Kathie Wilson

Alex Gehring

Kulshan Cycles – Eric & Kae Moe

Betsy & John Hewlett

McNett – David Wiggs

Harbour Light Strategic Marketing – Ned Savoie

Cory Brown

Joseph Nolting

Gregory Palermo

Brandon Nelson

Harriet Arkley

Dean Fearing

Mike McAuley

Craig Brown

Nancy & Paul Orlowski

Carmen Gilmore

Kurt Gisclair

Tami Newburgh

Teresa Schmidt

Brian Smart

John Siehl

Michael Chiavario & Mary Mullen

Magnus Collander

Andrew Weiner

Michelle Grandy

Sonja Max

Amy & Ken Mann

Paul Stout

Galen Tritt

Todd Eastman

Joe Mancuso

Andrew Olive

Andrea Warner

Rebecca Westlake

John King

David & Peggy Kehe

Foster Rose

Christina Master

Beth Vonnegut

Jen Gallant

Eliza Canty-Jones

Christine Ageton

Lorraine Baumgarten

Leslie Knight

Laura Habberstad

Todd Elsworth

Karen Berg

Earl Cilley

Ed & Jackie Pettit

John’s Repair – John & Kim Erickson

Tim Allison

Amanda & Travis Sipher

Bill Molsberry

Peter Frazier

Becky Kurle

Alex Ramel

Ali Taysi

Anthony Petz

Tom Caldwell

Carter Kiesau

William Lamp

Ian Ferguson

Lisa Johnson

Anthony Mancuso

Josh Parrish