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[email protected]: Peoples Bank Ski to Sea Team Shows Spirit of Community, Teamwork, and Adventure

May 24, 2017

Where can sea kayakers compete with snowboarders, and canoers compete with bikers in a one-day adventure race? It can only be at Bellingham’s annual Ski to Sea event, the largest event in Whatcom County, drawing tens of thousands of athletes, spectators, and tourists from across the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and around the world. First held in 1973, Ski to Sea is a team relay from the Mt. Baker Ski area to the finish line at Marine Park on Bellingham Bay. It’s raced annually on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

Continuing its nearly decade-long tradition of participating in and sponsoring Ski to Sea, Peoples Bank is once again the title sponsor of the race. With a massive Ski to Sea window wrap covering one side of the Barkley Financial Center headquarters building, the excitement for the race is palpable throughout the office – and across town. Jim Ostendorff, vice president and Cybersecurity Officer is a three-time veteran of the race and this year’s Peoples Bank team leader.
 

The wide variety of sports makes it impractical for the team to train as a group, so Jim keeps tabs on everyone's progress and lends a hand wherever it’s needed. “Every week I send an email to the team to see how everyone is doing and make sure they have what they need. A month or so ago we discovered that our kayak didn’t meet the race’s length requirements. I got in touch with someone who has a kayak that is the right length, and voila, problem solved! I’m just here to make sure we’re all set for the race.”
 
But preparation isn’t all that Jim is concerned about. “I end every email with my motto: ‘this is going to be fun!.’ says Jim. “Don’t get me wrong. We’re a competitive group, but our main mission is to go out there and have fun. Our team name, ‘[email protected],’ says it all. We’re going to do our best to make ourselves and Peoples Bank proud, but at the end of the day, I want us all to make it safely to the finish line. If we can to that, then we'll call it a success!”

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Although the goal was to build an all-employee team, two of the legs will be filled with an employee’s spouse and a friend. “That’s still close enough for me,” says Jim. “It’s tough to find people who can compete in so many different sports.” Jim, who will compete in the cyclocross bike race, will be joined by Robert Mittet (cross-country ski), Benjamin Buhler (snowboard), Nicole Nims (run), Tim Krell (road bike), Joe Hunt and Brian Cogger (two paddle canoe), and Blake Compton (sea kayak).
 
Jim is a dedicated athlete who regularly takes part in races, triathlons and other sporting competitions. "Having these events on my calendar keeps me honest with my workouts and gives me time to think,” he says. “For busy professionals working in a demanding industry, this kind of time can be extremely valuable. A lot of my best ideas have come to me when I was out running.” In previous Ski to Sea races, he has taken on three of the seven legs, including running, snowboarding and canoeing.
 
While participating in the race is great for his ongoing training, Jim sees Ski to Sea as more than a race. “People often see the result – the race day,” Jim explains. “But what this means for employees on the team, the employees who come out to cheer us on, and our clients and partners in the community is much more meaningful. We’re all out here working as a team, supporting each other, and accomplishing something together. It’s a really powerful way for us to demonstrate Peoples Bank’s 96-year commitment to serving the local community beyond the business of banking.”
 
If you can’t make it to Marine Park on May 28, you can still cheer on the teams and experience the exhilaration of the race by tuning into Peoples Bank’s Facebook Live Event . We’ll be showing the first finishers cross the finish line, and capture the spirt and enthusiasm of the fans. Visit peoplesbank-wa.com/ski-to-sea for all the latest information about the race and to join the Facebook Live event on race day.

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