Runners' relay supports health care workers down West Coast

72-leg relay spans 2,000 miles, stopping at 25 hospitals
June 5, 2022 at 10:52 a.m.
From left, Steve Fink, Sara Reid and Tanya Gallo meet at a trade-off location for Reid to complete her part of the second leg of the relay on June 5.
From left, Steve Fink, Sara Reid and Tanya Gallo meet at a trade-off location for Reid to complete her part of the second leg of the relay on June 5. (Kyle Tubbs/Cascadia Daily News)

Staff Reporter

A Canada-to-Mexico running relay to support health care workers made a stop in Bellingham Saturday, in keeping with its mission to cheer on and encourage medical professionals along the route. 

The B. Supportive Relay takes place in 72 sections, each 26 miles long, and runs down the West Coast, stopping by at least 25 hospitals. The first hospital along the route was the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham.

Steve Fink, 52, from San Diego, created the event with a friend in June 2020, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, he decided to host the relay by himself. 

Fink stays within eyesight of the runners and follows them along the course, usually driving a quarter mile ahead. He cheers the runners on as they pass, checking in with them and providing food and drinks.  

Participants can run an entire 26-mile section themselves or split up the mileage with a team. As runners pass a hospital along the course, they cheer on medical workers with kind words, flags and cowbells. 

photo  Sara Reid runs on the hilly section of the second part of the second leg of the relay near Lake Padden. (Kyle Tubbs/Cascadia Daily News)  

Tanya Gallo, a 31-year-old dietician, ran the first 10 miles of the second leg, from Cordata Park to Taylor Shellfish Farms on Chuckanut Drive, while six months pregnant.  

Gallo handed the relay flag to her teammate, Sara Reid, to complete their leg. Gallo plans to have her baby at St. Joseph's and, coincidentally, met some of the maternity staff as she ran by and thanked them. 

“I wanted to be part of this wonderful experience to give back and to thank our health care workers,” Gallo said. “Being a health care worker myself, I know how difficult it is, especially during these times, and I want to make sure we acknowledge those people who are in the front line.” 

Fink said he was inspired to create the event because he has so many friends and family that work in health care and wanted to show them support while also being able to get people out running together in a safe way during the pandemic. 

“All of us have health care heroes in our lives,” Fink said. “We know how hard they work, how hard it is in general and how hard it was through the pandemic.” 

photo  Runner Tanya Gallo, front, meets with hospital staff at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham during the B. Supportive Relay. (Photo courtesy of Steve Fink)  

Fifty-three participants are currently registered for the relay and registration is still open for upcoming sections. Many of the runners who participate are also health care workers and want to support their colleagues. Some runners are returning participants who ran in the first relay in 2020 and wanted a chance to do it again.  

“It's great to do this because talking about supporting people in the health care industry is one thing, but getting out and doing something and showing our support through something we love to do really makes a big difference,” runner Kevin Meenaghan said. 

Fink volunteers his time to keep the relay going and schedules the race so that he can have just enough time to sleep. The relay takes four weeks to complete, and Fink takes Wednesdays and Thursdays off so that he can catch up on work at his information technology company remotely. 

Participants pay a small fee for the shirts, flags, medals, snacks, drinks and gas along the route. Fink encourages runners to also raise $100 from family and friends for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization that helps athletes with disabilities participate in the sports they love. 

It is difficult to get people to register for certain legs, such as areas in northern California and some places in Oregon. Fink said he plans to run those sections himself and hopes to run at least 100 miles of the relay, although he is still figuring out logistics of doing so. 

To register or support the relay, visit bsrelay.com. To follow along, check out their Instagram @bsrelay.

Have a news tip? Email newstips@cascadiadaily.com or Call/Text 360-922-3092

Sign up

for our email newsletters

Weekly Top Stories

Sign up to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every Sunday

Daily Updates & Breaking News Alerts

Sign up to get our daily updates and breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox daily

Latest Stories

Fireworks fly over Bellingham
Fourth of July festivities held at waterfront

Bells drop close non-league match-up against Redmond Dudes
Back-and-forth loss caps off four non-league games for the West Coast League North Division first-half champions

Amtrak Cascades to reopen in September
The regional line will serve all 18 stops, including Bellingham and Vancouver, BC

Good Time Girls lead candid, comical history tours
BellingHistory highlights ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of Fairhaven

Quiet consequences of the Fourth of July
Holiday weekend can be a nuisance to pet owners, veterans and environment