Steamboat Stinger renamed Emerald Mountain Epic

Cyclists battle up a hill during the 2019 Steamboat Stinger Bike Race on Emerald Mountain.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Ahead of its 10th year, the endurance bike and trail race, formally known as the Steamboat Stinger, has been renamed the Emerald Mountain Epic. 

Last month, Steamboat Springs-based company Honey Stinger announced it was handing off the two-day event to primary beneficiaries, Partners in Routt County and Routt County Riders. 

While Honey Stinger will still sponsor the event, it requested the name of the race be changed since it will no longer serve as director and facilitator of the race. 

Partners in Routt County and Routt County Riders then opened a renaming contest to the public for a few weeks.

“We got about 55 people submitting several names apiece,” said Routt County Riders Executive Director Laraine Martin. “In total, I think we had a little over 100 names submitted, which was awesome.”

From there, a small group representing Routt County Riders and Partners decided on the top 10 options, which were then voted on by board members of both organizations, as well as some local stakeholders, such as Honey Stinger and Big Agnes employees who used to be heavily involved in the race. 

Emerald Mountain Epic, suggested by Chuck O’Connell, was the winner. For his creative victory, O’Connell was granted a free spot in the race. O’Connell has competed in the last three Steamboat Stinger races. In 2019, he competed in the duo race with his son Finn.

The name comes from a Steamboat mountain bike race he directed for three years, ending in 2014. The 26-mile race on Emerald raised money to support the United States Ski and Snowboard Association’s Rocky Mountain Division, specifically the Gold Medal Initiative, which helps Colorado athletes reach the Olympic podium.

“Everybody thought that it was a name that spoke so well to what a great ride that is,” O’Connell said. “It’s locally recognized as Emerald Mountain, and epic, I think, describes and portrays what a great set of single track that is.”

Also in the running for the new name was The Beast of the Boat, the Emerald Ringer, the Steamboat Stunner and the Steamboat Gritty Fitty.

Some weren’t as popular because they weren’t a great fit for all aspects of the event. For example, the Gritty Fitty, which Martin believes is a play on the 50-mile bike race, doesn’t ring true for the running portion, which is either 13 or 26 miles long. 

“We had to balance what sounds good, what looks good, what’s going to be good for marketing and kind of gives an indicator for the beautiful place in which the race takes place,” Martin said. “But also something that makes sense and applies to both days.”

Other submissions were the Howelsen Hammerfest, the Emerald Mountain Quarry Quandary, the Rowdy Routt and the Steamboat Outlaw.

“That was also really high on people’s list,” Martin said of the Outlaw. 

However, the name was too similar to the Outlaw Mountain Coaster at Steamboat Resort for more people to latch on to it.

O’Connell knows saying goodbye to the Stinger name will be tough, but he hopes people will love the race just as much under the new name.

“Sometimes, when people are creating events, they hit a home run without necessarily swinging for the fence,” O’Connell said. “I think that’s the case with the Steamboat Stinger. That event, right away, became what I would consider to be world class. The name fits it really well; it hurts.”

Martin said the race organizers and stakeholders will have a committee meeting next week to begin delegating tasks and creating a marketing committee that will develop a logo and then rename the competitions formally known as King Sting and Queen Bee, which require athletes to complete the 50-mile mountain bike race followed by the trail marathon.

“That’s one of the next big things on our list,” Martin said. 

A race registration date hasn’t been pinned down, but Martin expects it to be some time in late winter or early spring. 

Contact for more information.

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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