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July 10 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm PDT
An event every year that begins at 9:00 am on day second of July, repeating until July 12, 2025
This point-to-point, seven-mile trail race starts at Marine Park in south Bellingham and finishes at Larrabee State Park, the oldest state park in Washington. The course follows the legendary Interurban Trail, which threads through the Chuckanut Mountains and features gorgeous views of Chuckanut Bay and the San Juan Islands.
Buses will take runners back to the finish line and will leave with regularity.
The finish-line party at Larrabee State Park will include live music, food, and drink. Age-group awards will be given, three deep in each five-year category. Top three male and female finishers will also be recognized.
In early 1967 as Dr. John and Nancy Arnold’s new home on the Interurban Trail was taking form, they pondered with Frank Schultz, fellow Cascade Wilderness Club member (and now the owner of Base Camp), two problems of the day: 1) how to get in shape for summer backpacking, and 2) how to get young people involved in something other than the psychedelic drug scene. Why not organize a cross country trail through their own backyard to challenge bodies of all ages? This, remember, was before Frank Shorter’s 1972 Munich Olympic Marathon win had popularized running In this country. No one was running in the streets then. Why, I believe there was only one brand of running shoe in the stores.
In May of 1967, the five-mile Chuckanut Cross Country Foot Race was courageously inaugurated by the Arnolds and Frank Schultz under the leadership of the Cascade Wilderness Club. They sent word of the run to high school and college track coaches, to the few track clubs around, and to other hiking clubs. Imagine their surprise when 70 people arrived from near and far to run that first race!
Of the serious runners, and there were several, the winners were Jim Freeman, (former cross country coach at Mt.Baker HS, but then in training for the Mexico City Olympic Marathon) and Vicki Folz (star of the Snohomish Track Club). Over 100 participated the second year. The Chuckanut Foot Race was off and running! The Arnold’s son Ken has the distinction of having run Chuckanut every year until 1986, when he moved to Alabama.
The original course started at Fairhaven Park, headed south on Chuckanut Drive and California Street to the Interurban Trail, and ended at the Fragrance Lake Trail crossing, a distance of 4.9 miles. Subsequent years saw the Finish stretched to the holding pond area at the South end of the InterUrban, stretching the distance to five miles. Jim Pearson, former U.S. ultramarathon record-holder and now cross country coach at Ferndale H.S., holds the record for the distance as well as the longest string of victories. Jim also took over the directorship of the run from the Arnolds and the Wilderness Club for one year before Dick Henrie and Bellingham Track and Field Club (later re-named the GBRC) took over the run in 1978.
The GBRC years have seen drastic change of the original course. In 1979, the Start was moved off Chuckanut Drive to the WWU track for safety’s sake after 522 of the previous year nearly trampled several cars, and the finish was stretched beyond the trail to the ampitheater of Larrabee State Park for a total distance of seven miles. The course start was then moved to the theatre across from the Bellingham Mall (now Sehome Village). This course was used until 1995, when long traffic backups on Fairhaven Parkway prompted the final change in the starting line, to its current location by the Ferry Terminal at the foot of Harris Ave.
During the 1990’s the popularity of the race continued to increase, and the number of runners peaked at over 800 before declining to around 600 after 2000. In 2006 Fairhaven Runners took over sponsorship of the race and attendance peaked again, and the race now has a cap of 1300 athletes.
To confirm event status (sold out, cancellations, COVID restrictions, etc.), be sure to visit the event website above.