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7 Hills of Kirkland, a new era
It is said that Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer. For some, the EvergreenHealth 7 Hills of Kirkland cycling event marks the beginning of summer athletic events in the Puget Sound area.
“It is a good way to kick your butt into gear if you’re behind on training,” said Lucas Donigan of Seattle, who has participated in the 7 Hills event each of the last three years. “It is a good way to kick off the summer cycling season but I have never done it on a sunny day.”
And while the morning hours on Monday were overcast and gloomy, most of the 939 riders saw sunny skies by the end of the day.
“It was disappointing because we were about 300 riders lower than we were expecting,” KITH Executive Director Jennifer Barron said. “It was supposed to rain but it turned out to be one of the best days of the weekend.”
The 15th anniversary brought good news for event organizers, as EvergreenHealth signed on to be the title sponsor for the next five years according to event coordinator Bill Fores. Proceeds raised by the event go to help non-profit Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing or KITH, which helps those who are homeless and families who are at-risk. This year’s event raised $83,830.
“We are excited to partner with EvergreenHealth. It is a way for us to partner and foster healthy families in our community. They are an amazing partner,” Barron said. “We have some hardy riders who come out year in and year out for KITH.”
There were also many first-time participants like Mike and Minerva Butler of Redmond, who had never heard of the Kirkland event.
“We are big supporters of Evergreen, so we wanted to show our support,” said Minerva. “We heard about it through Evergreen.”
The couple rides between 100-120 miles a week. The Butlers normally ride on the flat terrain around Lake Sammamish, so the 7 Hills course - approximately 40 miles of peaks and valleys through Kirkland, Kenmore, Woodinville and Redmond - was a good challenge.
“It is an awful lot of hills,” Minerva said. “But it is a cool way to see Kirkland.”
Fores said there were some changes to the course this year, as a rest stop at EvergreenHealth was added and a course change on Education Hill.
“There were some safety issues so we rerouted riders around a spot where we have had some riders crash,” said Fores.
Cyclists from as far away as Minnesota came to Kirkland for the event. The traditional 7 Hills of Kirkland route starts at Marina Park in downtown Kirkland, travels north on Market Street, up Finn Hill along Northeast Juanita Drive, down through Holmes Point, north to Kenmore along Northeast Juanita Drive, back south through the North Juanita Neighborhood of Kirkland, through Kingsgate, over Evergreen Hill, down through Woodinville, south through Redmond and back into Kirkland over Rose Hill, south to the Kirkland boundary with Bellevue and back to Marina Park on Lake Washington Boulevard.