Emerald Mountain Epic goes virtual in first year since rebranding
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Routt County Riders and Partners in Routt County took over the Steamboat Stinger and renamed it the Emerald Mountain Epic, they were hoping for a smooth rebranding, as well as a successful event in the 10th year of the popular summer race.
When Eli Campbell took on the job as race director in April, the Emerald Mountain Epic planners were still hoping for an in-person race. With the trail mountain bike and marathon races not until August, there was plenty of time for the COVID-19 pandemic to play out and have the world begin to return to normal. About a month ago, Campbell and his co-workers realized that wouldn’t be possible.
So, like dozens of Routt County events have, the Emerald Mountain Epic is going virtual.
Campbell, who has lived in Steamboat Springs off and on since 1997, is no stranger to directing cycling races. He has his own business, Sentio Cycling, which has been producing races for the last five years. However, he is brand new to directing virtual races. Thankfully, his experience in the field has given him contacts who have been encouraging and helpful.
“We have been able to, throughout the last four months, watch and take notes from what other virtual events have done,” said Campbell. “From my perspective as a cycling event producer, I’ve been on countless calls with other event producers across the nation and the state. There’s been more collaboration in our industry this year than ever before.”
Knowing the race, now more of a ride with no head-to-head competition, is still benefiting local nonprofits Partners in Routt County and Routt county Riders, Campbell and other race staff were determined to put on the best event they could.
Participants have between Aug. 8 and 23 to complete the route, or a similar one if not in the Steamboat area. In addition to the half-marathon, marathon, 26-mile bike ride and 52-mile bike ride, there will also be a 10-mile ride and a 10-kilometer run dubbed the Mini-Epic. People can submit their times via Strava or enter them manually upon completion.
“The event is going to be a little more inclusive this year,” said Campbell. It’s always been a premiere, single-track racing event, which is what we set out to put on. With the changes, it’s more of a participation-style event instead of a race. … People that were maybe intimidated by the race nature of it can get out there. You can go at your own pace, stop and take in the views, take pictures along the way.”
All current registrants have options regarding their registration fee and can consult the website emeraldmtnepic.org for next steps.
Through all his prior events, Campbell has been on the ground, running the show while participants blaze by him. The beauty of a virtual event is he can partake in the best part: the cycling.
“This is the first year I get to participate in an event that I’m simultaneously putting on,” he said. “I’m kind of excited about that.”
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