The remarkable growth of the Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail
Relay in western Washington very much parallels the growth of the rail-trail
upon which it is run--the Foothills Trail.
The history of the race and the rail-trail are inextricably
intertwined. When the first Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay was held in
1992, its goal was to raise money to build the Foothills Trail and help
connect Mount Rainier with Puget Sound along an out-of-service section of the Northern
But year after year, though attracting a great deal of
interest from the local communities and runners across the state, the race
failed to raise any money.
However, with the 50.8-mile race from Mt Rainier to Ruston
Way in Tacoma about to celebrate it 10th anniversary with the 2012 running
on June 2, organizers are set to celebrate another milestone--a tidy surplus.
This year's race is poised to raise $10,000 or more for the Foothills Rails-to-Trails
Race director Rob Hester told the Tacoma News Tribune that
interest in the race had increased considerably in the last few years. Others credit Hester himself for race entries growing from 240 runners in 2009
to 770 last year, to an expected 1,000 this year, working hard to promote the
race across the state, and adding extra events.
During the past 10 years the trail, too, has gone from
strength to strength, as communities along the route pave and complete a number
of missing links and replace temporary on-road sections with connected
The race uses 37.6 miles of paved and unpaved trail, with
runners taking to sidewalks and roads to cover the links yet completed. Along
the way the route passes through some of America's most beautiful wilderness areas,
and a number of small towns.
Though 50 miles is still 50 miles, anyone considering the
challenge, solo or as part of a relay team, will be pleased to know the route
is entirely downhill. From an elevation of approximately 1,700 feet at the Carbon River
entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, the trail descends to sea level. If
this isn't enough to encourage you to give the run a go this year, perhaps
envisioning the incredible view looking back at Mt Rainier at the finish will
More information at www.rainiertoruston.com.
Photos courtesy of Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037