Brian Gregg, Caitlin Gregg, Patrick Johnson, Todd Eastman, and Russell Kennedy — those names sound familiar? The five U.S.-born cross-country skiers started each of their eight-person teams off two weekends ago in the 93-mile Ski to Sea Race on May 25 from Mount Baker to Bellingham, Wash.
A Washington native, Gregg put his Boundary Bay Brewery men’s team in the lead through the first stage of the multi-sport race — the 8-kilometer ski race — then handed off to Greg Ruckman for the downhill portion.
“The course is very challenging and honestly quite similar to the 5km Freestyle loop in Sochi,” Gregg later wrote on his blog. “I competed with the Boundary Bay Brewery competitive open race team. I have been competing with the same group of guys for the past 5 years and it is always a fun event.”
Kennedy, who moved north from Truckee, Calif., to pursue a professional ski career in Canmore, Alberta, raced the NW Sleep Solutions to second in the competitive open category, 1:17 behind Gregg.
The powerhouses of the day, Boundary Bay went on to tag third in the downhill, and second in every event thereafter (the run, road bike, two-man canoe, cross-country bike, and kayak, respectively). Gregg teamed up with Ruckman, Justin Ricks, Dan Harm, Brad Bauer and Steve Corlew, Russell Stevenson, and Olympic gold medalist kayaker Greg Barton — in that order — for the win in 5:40:08, beating Team Aeromech (with Johnson racing to third in the nordic portion) by 6 minutes and 32 seconds. It extended their win streak to four years in a row.
“I’m on a team with a bunch of fast guys,” said Stevenson, who gave Boundary Bay a seven-minute lead on Aeromech in the cross-country bike, to the Bellingham Herald. “The guys in the morning just crushed it and demoralized everybody, I think.”
Aeromech (with Johnson, Max Taam, B.J. Christenson, David Kessler, Ivan English and Mike Vincent, Gage Hecht, and Kenny Rice) took second, and the truly local Beavers Tree Service won the Whatcom County Open category and placed third overall (with Eastman, Brent Molsberry, Matt Cummins, Ian Baldwin, Brian Boatman and David Williams, Brian Ecker, and Brandon Nelson), 19 minutes behind Boundary Bay.
Kennedy’s NW Sleep Solutions (with Steve Sellers, Jeff Grassley, Andrew Coe, Mike Norton and Jon Davies, Ian Murray, and Gareth Tudor-Jones) outlasted the masters winners GetSimpleBox.com by 28 seconds for fourth.
Boundary Bay swept the afternoon, winning the women’s division as well in 6:33:29 for their 15th straight victory. Caitlin Gregg gave the team a four-minute lead after the nordic leg, putting them fifth overall while wearing a jersey that read, “You just got chicked” on the back. Thirteenth overall, the Boundary Bay women ended up winning by more than 13 minutes.
“Psyched to be representing ‘You just got Chicked’ … at Ski to Sea!” Caitlin wrote on Facebook. “Jennifer Martin is an awesome PT AND an incredible ambassador for getting women (young and old) active and into sports of all kinds!”
For the first time, this year organizers awarded both the men’s and women’s winning teams with universal airline ticket to all 16 members. Caitlin Gregg told the Herald she’s going to use hers to get to a training camp at Alaska’s Eagle Glacier.
The day before on May 24, her husband Brian set a personal record in a 10 k running race, winning the Mazama Fun Run in 35:12 in the Methow Valley, where he grew up. He and his father started the race 20 years ago from their driveway to Mazama for the annual Memorial Day Pancake Breakfast.
“I was too young to run so far, so I did it as a bike ride,” Brian wrote on his blog. “A few years later I did it as a relay team with my twin brother. The race has grown beyond the capacity of the bathroom at my parent’s house and now runs a loop from Mazama.”
One day after on Memorial Day, he and his extended family did a 100 k bike ride on San Juan Island in northwest Washington.
“Why stop at a 10km Running Race and 8km Ski Race when you have a 3 day weekend,” Brian wrote. He and his wife Caitlin flew home to Minnesota that Tuesday for a month of training in the Midwest. They celebrated their third anniversary on May 21.