The Story Behind The Meet
From humble beginnings, to the premier cross country meet in Washington State
Back Trail and Bridge Construction
With the help of an old WWII bulldozer, athletes, parents, coaches, and inginuity, the original course trail was blazed. Two stream crossings on the course presented a challenge, but thanks to hard work and determination, two bridges were constructed to allow access to the back woods.
Inagural Race and Race Naming
In the Fall of 1983, the first invitational race was held with 11 teams in attendance. The start of the race was on the varsity baseball field headed straight out the back of the outfield. As the teams took off down the cource, they would need to make a sharp right hand turn through a small 5-6 foot wide opening in a fence line. The image reminded then Lakewood XC Head Coach, Mike Evans, of the Hole-in-the-Wall that the infamous Jesse James and his gang would hide out in. Thus the race got its name and was an instant classic.
In 1999 Lakewood High School began hosting the Cascade and WESCO conference championships. Teams saw the Hole In The Wall Invitational as the perfect course preview for the championship races. That year the number of team entries grew to 86 teams.
Rebuidling The Bridges
Once upon a time a beaver decided to make a den just down stream from the second bridge. One year it caused a flood that swept away the second bridge! It was decided that it was time for a brand new permanent constuction. With the help of parents and coaches, two new steel bridge frames with wooden decking were constructed.
Mitchell Gogert, former Lakewood XC team member, uses his senior project to make an upgrade to the original hole-in-the-wall fence opening. The upgraded feature has since become a popular photo spot for runners to capture a memory or two.
NIKE comes on board
Through the help of Lakewood XC alumni Mack Lavier, a partnership with NIKE was born. NIKE has been kind enough to supply the invitational with flagging and fencing to line the course as a crowd control barrier and visual enhancement. In addition to the flagging and fencing, NIKE also supplies the invitational with customized backpacks for the top finishers in each race.
Timing and Finishline Upgrades
In 2011 Coach Sowards and former Coach Cullen Cantwell, wrote a successful grant application through the City of Marysville TPA to purchase an IPICO chip timing system. With the addition of chip timing, instant and accurate results were now possible.
In addition to the new timing system, a finishline arch was brought in to help make the finish feel more fitting of the size of the meet. It also allowed for better viewing of the race clock as finishers approached the line.
The Digital Age
With the success of the meet, upgrades have been necessary to keep the quality of the event at is maximum. 2013 saw a new wrapper for the finish-line arch, more specialized NIKE flagging and fencing was brought in, pop-up tents at the start-line for runners to change spikes and stay dry were available, and on-line meet coverage was provided by Runnerspace.com.
Hole In The Wall Goes Online
2014 saw the Hole In The Wall make its debut on the internet with it's own meet website. With the help of Three Finger Designs, the meet now had one central location for anyone wanting to ascertain information on the event. From race times and meet results, to a Twitter feed and travel information, nearly every topic regarding the meet could be found online.
2014 also saw the first promotional video created for the meet using footage from the 2014 races. Curious Eyes Company came on board to film and produce a short video. With the help of a quadcopter and captivating cinematography, the experience of the race could now be seen by everyone, everywhere.
In 2015, the meet was again upgraded to include a brand new backdrop for awards, new 1 mile and 2 mile flags, a finish corral in place of the old finish chutes, and the redecking of the bridges to include an additional 4 feet of width. 2015 also was the first time over 100 teams and 3200 athletes made the journey to the Hole In The Wall Invitational to compete in the premier XC meet in Washington State.
In 2016 the Hole In The Wall Invitational had a major revision to the start of the race. With the construction of the new Lakewood High School right in the middle of the previous start/end of the 1st and 2nd loops, the course was re-routed into the stadium at the North East corner. This also eliminated the often eventuful 180 degree hairpin turn at the enterance to the stadium.
Website and Timing
Always striving to improve the meet, 2017 will have a brand new photo-finish FinishLynx timing system integrated with the existing IPICO chip-timing system. This will allow for the most accurate results possible.
2017 is also the debute of the newly renovated Hole In The Wall website. The updated website allows for greater ease of access to any and all information regarding the meet.