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Thursday, November 30, 2023
Nov. 30, 2023

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Lake to Bay relay aims to showcase area’s best running routes

100 kilometer July event has seen fast growth in four years

By , Columbian Sports Editor
2 Photos
A wave of participants in the 2022 Lake to Bay start the first leg of the relay at Frenchman's Bar Regional Park along the Columbia River in Vancouver.
A wave of participants in the 2022 Lake to Bay start the first leg of the relay at Frenchman's Bar Regional Park along the Columbia River in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Whisper Running) Photo Gallery

Whether one is an avid runner or a casual jogger, Clark County has a wealth of scenic and convenient routes.

Lake to Bay, a fast-growing relay event set for July 8, aims to showcase that abundance.

The result of that effort is a 100 kilometer course that includes many of the well-known trails in Clark County and a few that runners might not have tried yet.

“There’s so many areas we forget about,” said event founder and organizer Dave Caldwell. “Gosh this city has so much to offer in terms of running space.”

Starting at Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park, the course heads east into downtown Vancouver before making a clockwise loop through Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Orchards and Camas.

Popular routes such as the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail, Salmon Creek Trail and Lacamas Heritage Trail are included. The final 15 miles follows the Columbia River to the finish at the Vancouver Waterfront.

“The history of the land we reside on, I was trying to capture as much of that as we can,” Caldwell said. “I think this race is really about a celebration of running. I efforted to get as many parks and trails as possible.”

Relay races have exploded in popularity over the past 30 years, none more so than the Hood to Coast. The “Mother of All Relays” draws more than 12,000 runners to the 200-mile event.

But shorter one-day relays have also found a niche. In Lake to Bay, teams of up to six people will tackle 15 legs that range from 1.5 to 6.2 miles. Caldwell said last year’s event had two “ultra” teams where two people covered the whole 62.2-mile distance. An average participant, however, will log from 10 to 15 miles.

“For runners who want to walk or jog slowly, there’s a place for that,” Caldwell said. “I look at other running clubs in the area, they have such a fun community based around running. I feel like that’s our spirit. We’re not trying to run (personal bests). We’re there to hang out.”

This is the fourth year of an event that originated in the summer of 2020. Runners from Caldwell’s Whisper Running youth club were looking for a safe physical activity while much of everyday life was shut down due to COVID.

The club organized a relay from Blue Lake in Gresham, Ore., to Hudson’s Bay High School, hence the Lake to Bay name.

The event moved fully into Clark County the following year and attracted 18 teams, up from nine in the inaugural year.

Last year saw 29 teams participate. Caldwell expects that 50 percent growth in participation to continue for this year.

Ultimately, Caldwell hopes Lake to Bay becomes a staple summer event that runners with Clark County roots return for each year.

“It’s a good primer for events like Hood to Coast,” Caldwell said. “You don’t have to rent a van and you get to sleep in your own bed at night.”

For more information or to register, visit www.whisperrunning.com.

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