Team Birch Equipment wins the 2022 world renowned multi-sport Team Relay Ski to Sea Race! The race began last Sunday at the crack of dawn at the Mount Baker ski area with 334 cross-country skiers passing off to their downhill ski/snowboard, then to their runner who passes off to the road biker. The canoers (2 paddlers) take the next leg down the Nooksack river to pass off to the Cyclocross Biker in Ferndale who passes off to the paddler at Squalicum harbor in Bellingham Bay. Birch Team Captain and Paddler, Jeff Hilburn was the first to ring the Bell as Team Birch Equipment won the 2022 Ski to Sea with the phenomenal sub 6 time of 5:59:48!
Per Birch Equipment Team Captain Jeff Hilburn, schoolteacher for the Bellingham School District, and kayaker for the Birch Team, “I had a feeling we could win it this year, with this group of great guys some new to the race and some with solid Ski to Sea experience, I knew it would be tight but we had a chance for the win.”
Sarah Rothenbuhler, Owner of Birch Equipment has been friends with Hilburn since he was her daughters’ 5th grade teacher, and one of their favorites… Hilburn reached out and said, ‘It’s time and that he thought he had the makings of at least landing top 3,” Rothenbuhler laughed. “With Jeff pulling a team together, you knew they were going to be top athletes and also really great people as a whole—It was a no- brainer and so much fun to get to meet them before the race and celebrate with them after.”
The Birch Team was comprised of:
– Finn Redman (16 years old), Cross-country Skier – Recently placed 2nd at the ’22 Canadian Junior Nationals
– Steve Portratz-Lee (35 years old), Downhill Skier- Won the ’22 LLS Seattle Firefighter Stairclimb, 69 flights in full gear!
– John Whelan (27 years old), Runner – Ran for WSU, personal best 10k time is 20:15 – that’s a sub minute mile!
– Matt Bailey (40 years old), Road Cyclist – Placed 7th at the ’21 US Masters Road Cycling TT Championship in age category!
– Glenn Bond (48 years old) and Bob Woodman (58) – Canoe Team, Fastest team in 2019! Multiple time Ski to Sea Champion Team Members.
– Jack Shuckra (20 years old) – Cyclocross Race, a Cat 1 rider from Salt Lake City!
– Jeff Hilburn (52 years old) – Kayaker, 2nd time Ski to Sea Champion Team member
Ski to Sea is one of the most unique races in the USA, how cool is it that it’s in Whatcom County’s backyard and ends in Bellingham where Birch Equipment originated and is headquartered.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences to friends and family of Rob Lawrance of Border Patrol Veteran’s Team, who passed away while on route with the cyclocross leg of Ski to Sea. More on his incredible legacy can be read here https://www.cascadiadaily.com/news/2022/may/31/teammates-devastated-by-friends-death-during-cyclocross-leg-of-ski-to-sea/
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