Recreation Northwest

Team Tall Strikes Again

Tommy Lingbloom’s report from his third Quest race:

One year ago, I laid in the grassy field alongside Roche Harbor, drinking Gatorade and coke, and said to Kevin, “I’m pretty sure this was the most fun day of my life.”

It was a long wait to get back, but boy was it worth it!

Our adventure began Friday night, as Kevin’s buddy Brandon had offered to take us from Bellingham to Roche Harbor in his boat (“uh, yes please”). We met at Squalicum Harbor and loaded the boat down with our gear, then made haste to get the trip over before dark. The ride across Bellingham Bay was… turbulent. Captain Brandon cut his teeth sailing on whichever ocean Tennessee lies on, and as such brings that rare level of warm kind-heartedness, especially in contrast to the reputation of your typical seafarer’s reputation. Let’s just say that Brandon is an awesome sailor, but I would not describe him as “salty”.


Captain Brandon secures some crab pots that got loose in the chop.

We slept on the boat and woke up at 3:45. Given that I was basically sleeping in a two person coffin with Eric, I was pretty happy to get going. Our first misstep of the day came when Kevin went to put on his running shoes.


The running shoes Kevin packed.

The running shoes Kevin packed.

Upon reflection, I think the most disturbing aspect of this incident is how unsurprised I was. With Kevin I suppose we should just be grateful that he grabbed a right and a left!

We loaded up the vans and drove to the mystery remote start, which turned out to be American Camp (totally called it). I absolutely love the moment when Brent hands out the maps, it’s like Christmas morning. We dove in and planned our route, but apparently a little too tediously. We ran out of time and later would need to plan our route for the second bike leg on the fly.

Trek 1:

At the start, we immediately ran for the beach. I was a little concerned about this choice at first, because it seemed as though almost every other team took off in the opposite direction. But then I realized that two other teams were with us: our buddies on the very capable Adventure Race Virgins team, and the dominant race favorites, QUEST. In our previous two races, we had finished in third, literally hours after QUEST. Dusty, Emily and Annie are just so good at this. I was interested to see how long it would take for them to drop us.

The answer? Not long. We reached the first CP with them, but they left before us. As we jogged down the beach after them, I could visibly watch the gap grow. It’s pretty clear that they are simply a superior team. But getting spanked by QUEST at every race is great for Team Tall, it allows us to see how inefficient we are and therefore improve at a much greater rate than if a team like QUEST wasn’t around. Anyway, as I (carrying the passport) yelled to Kevin (carrying the map) asking where exactly we were headed, QUEST moved as one unit taking a trail I hadn’t even noticed up to the bluff at the second CP. Maybe I just didn’t want to be seen as a follower, because I certainly would not have known to make that turn, so instead stuck to the beach a little farther and led us up a much steeper and sketchier trail. Stupid. But at least we were at the CP.

This was the first punch CP, and I wanted to make sure I got it right. I carefully lined up the punch with T6 on my passport, and double checked for several seconds. Don’t want to screw this up. But what’s that strange tingling on my legs?… BEES!!!!  I was standing on top of a nest and had already been stung a dozen times before I realized what was happening. By the time I got away, brushing the bees off of my legs as I ran, I had been stung over twenty times (I didn’t stop to count, but did an inventory later that night). Fortunately I don’t have a terrible reaction to bee stings, so if anything it got me fired up. I even paused to get some photos of the guys.

American Camp at sunrise with Eric and Kevin.

American Camp at sunrise with Eric and Kevin.

We saw QUEST leaving the lighthouse and then never saw them again. A few minutes later Eric saved our bacon as Kevin and I almost wrote down the wrong direction on Mt. Finlayson. Close call! We clipped along through the rest of the first trek pretty much side by side with the Virgins. Every now and then one of us would have a small goof and the other would catch up, and we entered the TA together. Learning from our past mistakes, we were prepared to get moving quickly, and were gone in three minutes.

Bike 1:

A road ride! This was an incredibly eye opening experience for Team Tall. I was eager to try out my homemade bike clipboard for carrying our map and navigating more efficiently. I attributed some extreme screw ups in Teanaway this summer to having my map folded up super tightly in my back pocket, and was determined to do a better job. I was pretty proud of my contraption. The best part was that I found a use for those $0.50 foam remnants at Hardware Sales.

Fine AR craftsmanship involves a clipboard, so foam, and three zip ties.

Fine AR craftsmanship involves a clipboard, so foam, and three zip ties.

The eye opening portion of this leg was our head to head match-up with Darrell and Scarlett of the QUESTionable Newbies. Don’t let the name fool you, these two mean business. As the leg progressed, we passed them between every CP (we had a rotating paceline of three people) only to get passed by them again at every CP. It was maddening! They were so much more efficient than us. Even with the clipboard for navigating, we still had to dig out the passport to read the next clue and write things down. We rolled into the TA at Lime Kiln alongside QUESTionable, gaining no ground for this race but learning a lot for the future.

Zipping along.

Zipping along.

Trek 2:

Basically a 30 minute run through the gorgeous Lime Kiln Point State Park. I’d never been here before, and it is beautiful. One thing I love about these races is discovering new amazing places right in our backyard. It was wonderful. I plan to bring my family out there next summer.

Bike 2:

Hard to believe it’s only 10am, eh? We decided to put both the map and the passport on the clipboard, and next time will bring TWO clipboards for the biking portion. Kevin is our number one stunner on the mountain bike, so he had the punch paper. We started off strong on the roads, trying not to burn too many matches before we hit the singletrack. I finished mapping out our route now as we cruised.

Feeling good!

Feeling good!

We were pretty efficient on Mitchell Hill, but QUESTionable turned a slight advantage into almost half an hour by the time we finished. I’ll need to look over the map and see if there was a better route, but overall we did great. A couple quick holes of disc golf and it was time to get in the boat!


Well, this is where it all went south for us. I had the currents backwards in my mind, so we headed south to start, when we should have headed around the north end of Henry Island. Doh! We then searched in vain for a mural that wasn’t there for fifteen minutes, when we should have called the search off at 5. Doh! Then we decided to go back north to K1 to take advantage of the currents when really we should have just stuck to our route, as the currents were never going to be that strong. Doh! We finally made it to the backside of Henry Island and because I misread a clue, paddled 15 minutes past a CP before turning around and paddling another 15 minutes to get it. Doh! Doh! Doh! By the time we got K6 the current was really moving against us through Mosquito Pass, costing us more time. Doh!

The face of confusion.

The face of confusion.

This year Kevin and I added Eric Paige to our number, primarily because he’s tall, but also because he is a beast in  the water. I think Eric put as much force into that paddle as Kevin and I combined, and I shudder to think of what the experience would have been like if it was me and Kevin alone. My little stick arms don’t add much to the team in this discipline. We’d probably still be out there!

The numbers speak for themselves here. QUEST on the water: 2 hours, 14 minutes. QUESTionable: 2 hours and 6 minutes. Team Tall: 3 hours and 12 minutes. Ouch. I think we could have had a similar time without all the screw-ups.

Trek 3:

I came out of the water soaked and shivering, and we all ditched our jerseys for coats. I really wanted to run. Fast. It was go time. I think this my favorite part of the entire race, and Eric described me as “An eight year old boy hopped on sugar during an Easter egg hunt.” This is pretty accurate, and I grabbed both the map and passport and led the charge. The quarries around Roche are so cool! I may have been a little too excited, as I received a nasty gash on my leg while trying to climb up to a CP I had spotted. Calm down, Tommy! Too many CPs to describe here, but I gotta hand it to Brent to putting a punch on a buoy in the middle of a pond. Well played sir.


Sorry ladies, we’re all spoken for. Even Kevin.


Did I mention that everybody in this Adventure Racing community is incredibly nice? It’s really amazing. After all that racing, we were only 3 minutes (…and two hours) behind QUEST. They saw my leg, and while I stood around eating chips Dusty ran off to get a first aid kit form his car. The wonderful Caserias then had me sit down while they cleaned me up. Emily literally told me not to bother to put my chips down. By the time they were through with me my leg was clean, sanitized and very well bandaged. I look forward to many more years of many more races getting thoroughly stomped by these wonderful people.

Unfortunately daylight was waning, so it was back on the boat sooner than we would have liked. But what a great way to end the day, cruising back through the islands, the diem thoroughly carped.

Recreation Northwest to Host Breakfast of Champions! at Boundary Bay

Contact Information:
Todd Elsworth, Executive Director
Recreation Northwest


Recreation Northwest to Host Breakfast of Champions! at Boundary Bay

Celebrating our Community of Outdoor Recreation Champions

BELLINGHAM, WA., September 21st, 2016

Recreation Northwest, known for putting on fun community events like the Bellingham Traverse and the Recreation Northwest EXPO & SUMMIT, is hosting a new event on Tuesday, October 4th at Boundary Bay Brewery. Hosted by the Board of Directors, the Breakfast of Champions! will be held from 7:30 am – 9:00 am. Guests will enjoy a hearty local breakfast with fellow Outdoor Recreation Champions.

“We are bringing the recreation community together to celebrate our collective accomplishments and learn what’s in the hopper for next year,” explains April Claxton, Program Director. After breakfast, staff and board members will describe how people can be a part of Recreation Northwest’s new program to work with healthcare providers. The goal is to get more people outside to create a Healthy Whatcom by implementing a local Park Prescriptions program in Whatcom County.

According to the WA State Dept. of Health, 29% of Whatcom residents 18 and older report their activity is limited by their physical or mental health. Based on a growing consensus that time in nature has many health benefits, both physical and mental, Recreation Northwest is developing a new program in partnership with local parks departments and health practitioners to prescribe active time outside.

“Whatcom County has a strong network of parks and trails and many robust outdoor programs for Recreation Northwest to utilize and grow the number of people spending active time outside,” explains April Claxton, Parks Prescriptions program lead.

Win a package of Outdoor Recreation FUN! Items donated by Mt Baker Mountain Guides, Seattle Manufacturing Co (SMC), Thousand Trails, WMBC, The YMCA, Adventures NW Magazine, the Community Boating Center and other favorites.

Recreation Northwest’s Board of Directors: Kurt Baumgarten, President; David Laws, Vice President; Treasurer; Dean Fearing, Secretary; Pamela Jull;  Erin McCain-Anderson, Brian Roche, Nikki Quinn, Al Ragan, Adam Lent, and Mike McAuley. 

Tickets for the Breakfast of Champions can be purchased at:

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.  For more information, to become a sponsor or to volunteer, visit



Stones Throw Brews Up Special “Fairhaven Park TrAle” to Benefit Recreation Northwest’s Trail Project in Fairhaven Park

Contact Information:
Todd Elsworth
Executive Director
Recreation Northwest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Stones Throw Brews Up Special “Fairhaven Park TrAle” to Benefit Recreation Northwest’s Trail Project in Fairhaven Park

BELLINGHAM, Wash., September 7, 2016— Stones Throw Brewery announces that a fresh batch of Fairhaven Park TrAle is now on tap in their southside location. A portion of each pint will go to support Recreation Northwest’s trail and wetland boardwalk project in Bellingham’s Fairhaven Park.

Owners, Tony Luciano and Jack Pflueger have dedicated to help raise money for Phase Two of Recreation Northwest’s community trail project. Stones Throw has supported the Fairhaven Park trail project from the beginning- when they provided Ginger Ale at the groundbreaking ceremony and a location for trail work party volunteers to gather afterwards.  Now you can drink your fill of the Fairhaven Park TrAle and contribute to completing the wetland boardwalk and trail connecting Fairhaven Park to the urban forest trails.

“Working with Recreation Northwest on the Fairhaven Park Trail project was more than coincidental timing with the opening of our new southside brewery. We all share a harmonious passion for adventure and this place. Fairhaven is the Center of our Universe and the “Closest Pint to Adventure”,” explains Luciano, Head Brewer.

“Designing this beer seemed like a solid solution to quench the thirst of a hard working trail crew, and also promote Fairhaven and our partnership with Recreation Northwest.” Luciano describes the Fairhaven Park TrALE as “a citrusy delicious dry-hopped pale ale, brewed specifically for the trail work party volunteers and people out playing on our trails”.

Funds donated from the sale of Stones Throw’s Fairhaven Park TrALE are a part of larger community fundraising campaign- including support from the Fairhaven Lions Club, Alcoa Foundation, Satterburg Foundation, Patagonia Foundation, Brio Laundry and individual donors.

“We are delighted to be chosen by Stones Throw as a philanthropy partner in their first year. The vibe in their brewery is a reflection of the passion and commitment that they have poured into building the business and their commitment to our community,” said Todd Elsworth, Executive Director, Recreation Northwest. “Stones Throw’s contribution and community support will enable us all to have more fun and get cool stuff done in our neighborhood parks!”

Fairhaven Park TrAle description:

4.6% dry-hopped Pale Ale made with Sterling hops (floral, citrus & spicy)

Golden, unfiltered, mid to light bodied with a healthy dose of dry-hops.

Stones Throw Brewery is a result of Tony Luciano’s determined vision combined with Jack Pflueger’s entrepreneurial tenacity. As WWU Alumni, they have returned to Bellingham to follow their dream of creating a brewery that would truly capture the spirit of sustainability, community, and adventure.

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.  For more information, to become a sponsor or to volunteer, visit

For more information about the Fairhaven Park Trail Project:


15th Anniversary Celebration for Vital Choice Bellingham Traverse at Boundary Bay Brewery.


15th Anniversary Celebration for Vital Choice Bellingham Traverse at Boundary Bay Brewery.

BELLINGHAM, Wash., August 22, 2016 – Celebrating the 15th Anniversary on Saturday, September 17th at Boundary Bay Brewery, the Vital Choice Bellingham Traverse is a multi-sport event that celebrates the life cycle of wild salmon and the natural and urban challenges of their journey. The Traverse course highlights the recreational amenities of Bellingham and involves running, mountain biking, road biking, paddling and team trekking to a cold pint of Traverse Red IPA at the Boundary Bay Finish Line.

“The foundation for our success over these past 15 years is attributed to the strong relationships that we have with the City of Bellingham, especially our wonderful Parks and Recreation Department staff. Along with Boundary Bay Brewery, Fiamma Pizza and Kulshan Cycles as our founding sponsors, together, we have collectively continued to improve the event for our community,” said Todd Elsworth, Bellingham Traverse founder and director. “We have had the fortune of having solid northwest brands support the event as our title sponsors including REI, PeaceHealth and currently Vital Choice Wild Organics and Seafood.”

Similar to the Ski to Sea team relay, the Bellingham Traverse Course includes a 5.5 mi. Greenways Run, 6 mi. Mountain Bike, 18 mi. Road Bike, 3.4 mi. Trail Run, 3.6 mi. Paddle, 0.65 mi. Team TREK to the Boundary Bay Brewery Finish Line. One unique difference from Ski to Sea is the opportunity for individual competitors in the Chinook (solo) division. Along with popular Company Teams, the Traverse also offers divisions for Coho (tandem) and Chum (relay) teams for people of all shapes and sizes.

The idea for the event came to Elsworth when he returned to his native Bellingham in 2001 after a nearly decade away and abroad. For the history of how it came to be, read: Bellingham Traverse ROOTS. The backstory is an extension of Elsworth’s interests and ambition and makes the connection to our iconic salmon so prevalent in the Traverse.

The event is now managed by Recreation Northwest and also helps to support the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association with Vital Choice’s support.  Over the 15 years, the Traverse has helped to raise money for a variety of local non-profits including Kulshan Community Land Trust, NSEA, Whatcom Land Trust, Action for Africa and dozens more.

In 2016, the Traverse serves as a fundraiser for a project directly related to the event in a local city park. “The second phase of our Fairhaven Park Trail project is our way to repair and protect the trails that we are using in the forest for the trail run leg of the Traverse. Our next section of trail and wetland boardwalk will be a grand testament to the work our community can do together,” Elsworth, also the founding executive director of Recreation Northwest explains.

Registration is open for all Traverse divisions. Sign-up before rates increase on September 3rd and order commemorative 15th Anniversary Traverse shirts by August 30th.

Register, Volunteer and order your T-shirts:

Watch Traverse TV:

Follow Traverse on Facebook:

Photo of first Traverse starting line:


Race photos available for print & online publication.

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.  For more information, to become a sponsor or to volunteer, visit


Scoop the Poop

Partners come in all shapes and sizes. Even poop. Dog dootie in this case. Our friends at RE Sources will be out with us in Squalicum Creek Park for the Bellingham KIDS Traverse.

Here’s their pitch:
Meet us anytime till noon, starting at 9:30 AM by the baseball fields.
Help us hand out rewards and incentives for scooping the poop properly
while talking about how we can all play a role in being part of the
solution to keeping our parks, yards, and waterways healthy for kids,
pets, and neighbors.

During the next two weeks, we’ll need help handing
out handbills and more poop flagging! Whether you think you might want to
volunteer all summer, or just one session, we’d love to have you come and
talk poop with us!

  Eleanor Hines
  Lead Scientist
  Clean Water Program
  RE Sources for Sustainable Communities
  360-733-8307 ext. 213 (office)
  215-287-0043 (cell)

Recreation Northwest Hosts Fourth Annual Bellingham KIDS Traverse on a New Course at Squalicum Creek Park


Recreation Northwest Hosts Fourth Annual Bellingham KIDS Traverse
on a New Course at Squalicum Creek Park

BELLINGHAM, Wash., June 7, 2016 – Recreation Northwest announces the 2016 Bellingham KIDS Traverse on Sunday, June 26th will be relocating from Civic Field to Squalicum Creek Park. The format and distances will remain the same as the past 3 years. 

“The decision to move to the new venue at Squalicum Creek Park is to create a more spectator-friendly course for the families to enjoy,” explains Executive Director, Todd Elsworth. Elsworth also wanted to highlight the new park located in the city’s north end and applaud the work that the Parks and Recreation department is doing for the community. “We are excited to showcase the perimeter of the park and the connectivity of trails in and around the Birchwood and Columbia neighborhoods.”

Kids ages 6 through 12 are invited to participate as solo (Chinook) tandem (Coho) or Relay (Chum) competitors for the race, which includes four events:
·       A one-mile run around the perimeter of the park
·       A 1.5-mile bike which will be a mix of grass, dirt and compact gravel
·       A half-mile obstacle course will be set up on the field and offer a combination of challenges 
·       A quarter-mile team trek to the Mallard Ice Cream Finish Line
Visit for updated maps and course details. 
Also new this year: Boundary Bay Brewery is partnering with Mallard Ice Cream to offer Root Beer Floats to all finishers and volunteers. Their long-standing relationship with Recreation Northwest, led to the opportunity to include Boundary at the finish line. In addition, all participants receive a sticker and awards will be presented to the top three finishers in each age group.
“Recreation Northwest is excited to invite kids to participate in this fun and safe outdoor activity, to learn more about stewardship of our shared recreational spaces, and to connect with the life cycle of the salmon through running, biking and navigating an obstacle course,” said Elsworth. “Through this event, we hope to help instill a lifelong love of recreation and playing in the outdoors that will benefit every child.”

Early Bird rates end on Friday, June 10th. Register today and save. 

Proceeds of the race support Recreation Northwest’s Stewardship & Education programs. Parents are invited to learn more about and register their kids for the Bellingham Kids Traverse

Race photos available for print & online publication.

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.  For more information, to become a sponsor or to volunteer,