”how and why the heck it all started”
The Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay challenges teams of runners to travel the course under their own power, from the base of Mount Rainier to the sea. The event calls attention to the Foothills Trail, a rail-trail project that tracks the course of the old Northern Pacific Railroad from Tahoma to Tacoma.
Starting in the Carbon River rainforest, the runners lose 1,800 feet of elevation before crossing the finish line 50+ miles later at the north end of Marine Park along Ruston Way on the Tacoma waterfront.
Racers pass through a variety of naturescapes along the way, from alpine to rainforest to coastline. Wild cherries often canopy the trail, a tribute to rail travelers who flicked their pits off the train. Otter, beaver, red tail hawk, kingfishers, hummingbirds, and bald eagles make homes along the Foothills Trail, not to mention the salmon in South Prairie Creek.
RAINIER TO RUSTON PROCLAMATION
WHEREAS, a unified, non-motorized trail system promotes healthy lifestyles, environmental consciousness, community building, and an improved quality of life for people of all ages.
WHEREAS, the Foothills Trail connects communities from across Pierce County to diverse public treasures, from an alpine National Park to seaside Marine Park on Ruston Way.
WHEREAS, the Foothills Trail exists as a commitment to healthy lifestyles, to contiguous access, and to the historical significance of the railroad grade as part of a transcontinental thoroughfare.
WHEREAS, National Trail Day recognizes the essential role of healthy trails in the lives of healthy people.
THEREFORE, we, on Saturday May 30, 2019, one week before National Trails Day*, in the 31st year of the Foothills Trail Coalition's existence, shall endeavor the 18th annual Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay. We shall descend the abandoned Northern Pacific railroad grade, enduring heat and mud and sand and fatigue and pain and dehydration as we pass from glacial moraine and through cherry blossoms to the shores of Commencement Bay. Trusting only in our own stout legs and in the wills of our fellow teammates, we celebrate old growth, new blisters, and a summer run through the woods with friends.
*Note that due to conflicting events, the 2020 edition of Rainier to Ruston will be run one week prior to National Trails Day. The event is typically run on the first Saturday of June however in 2020 it will be run on the final Saturday of May.