Saturday, June 2, 2012 is the first Saturday of June and National Trails Day (National Trails Day is always the first day in June). The Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition is having an annual Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay and Ultra, challenging teams of runners, walkers, and ultras to descend the historic railroad grade in a 50-mile race to the sea. They are celebrating their 10 anniversary.
The Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Their mission is to assist Pierce County communities in the creation and the maintenance and usage of a connected system of non-motorized trails for healthier people from Mt. Rainier to Puget Sound. Rob Hester, race director for three years, explained the purpose of the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition, “The Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition’s purpose of the race is to bring awareness, but hopefully raise funds to the Foothills Trail. Someone has to go out and maintain the trail; that costs money, you have to buy property to finish the trail which costs a lot of money. It’s $1 million to pave one part of a trail. If you didn’t have groups like this, we wouldn’t have trails like we do.”
There are four marathon options: the half marathon allows participants to run or walk 13.1 miles, the marathon is 27.7 miles of runners or walkers, the 50 Kilometer Ultra is 31.4 miles of runners and walkers, and the Relay and 50 mile Ultra is 50.8 miles of runners. According to Rob, relay teams are the biggest portion of the race. Participants can run the 50-miler as relay teams of two, three, four or six.
Rob shared, “I got involved with this race three years ago because I’m an ultra runner myself, and run a lot on the trail. The event at the time, didn’t draw as many runners and walkers as I thought it should, so it’s so beautiful…that’s how I got involved. I found a way to participate and give something back by being involved, and to get more people on the trail. Obviously, I love the race and think it’s for a great cause. It’s a lot of fun with all the different events going on and people running and walking on the trail.” He discussed the best thing about the event, “A lot of the teams are a lot fun; friends, family, co-workers, and people just get together, get on a relay team and decorate their vehicles or they might wear costumes. It’s a fun day out on the trails. It’s about being in a community with others. Some teams dress in all the same clothes and some dress up in a ballerina or something. Our website shows 527 photos under the “Results Tab.”
Rob mentioned what was unique about the event, “I think it’s unique you’re being able to race from a mountain that finishes at the Puget Sound. There are a lot of unique landscapes, it’s beautiful in this race. There is a lot of beauty that runs along rivers, trails; you’re on paved trail and sometimes sand that’s down near the Puyallup River when you have to run off Levee road. There is just a lot of variety.”
There will be booths at the finish line on Ruston Way in Tacoma. Their sponsors include: REI, Franciscan, Fleet Feet Sports in Bonney Lake, and more. There will be food, music, and Corey Wilkins as the announcer.
For more information about the event or to register, please visit: http://www.rainiertoruston.com/registration.html, call: 253 226-5495, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Rob recommends any runner or walker to the event. Rob commented: “Whether you consider yourself a runner or a jogger, maybe you just run on a treadmill at the gym, get a group of friends together and run the relay or walk the half marathon or marathon.”
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com