With round and round instead of up and down, Town Challenge to mix it up | SteamboatToday.com

With round and round instead of up and down, Town Challenge to mix it up

Jeff Minotto catches some air racing during a Town Challenge mountain bike race at Howelsen Hill earlier this month. The race series returns Wednesday for a race at Steamboat Ski Area.
Joel Reichenberger

Town Challenge mountain bike race

What: Bi-weekly mountain bike race series

When: Starting at 5:20 p.m. for youth races, 6 p.m. for adult races

Where: Gondola Square, Steamboat Ski Area

Cost: Race-day registration closes at 5:15 p.m. and costs $35

Mountain Madness running race

What: Half-marathon and 10K races

Where: The races start at the Steamboat Springs Parks and Community Services building, 245 Howelsen Pkwy.

When: The half-marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. and the 10K at 8 a.m.

Cost: Registration is available at http://www.RunningSeries.com for $30 and $25

— The Town Challenge mountain bike race series has offered plenty of thrills for riders through the years, but there’s no escaping what’s been a bit of monotony when it comes to format for the bi-weekly summer staple.

Each race is mostly up, then mostly down, hitting different sections of trails and different combinations of those trails, but maintaining the basic principle.

Organizers tried to mix that up last year by introducing a circuit event to the schedule but were defied by the weather — both the original date and the makeup date were rained out.

Wednesday, they’ll try again with the Churn & Burn circuit race at Steamboat Ski Area. The race will send riders around a 2.7-mile loop two, three or four times, depending on their ability and experience.

It’ll mean a lot of looking at the same terrain for cyclists, yet an entirely new experience.

“It’s going to be a lot more fun for spectators,” race director Emily Hines said. “Usually, you might see the start of a race and the finish, but for those folks hanging around this time, they’ll see their friends or family come through multiple times.”

Riders will start from near Gondola Square at Steamboat Ski Area, head up and away from the start on Zig Zag, come back most of the way on Wrangler Gulch and finish on E-Z Rider, which cuts back toward Gondola Square through a tight series of hairpin turns.

The race’s format will differ in more than just the obvious way, too. Racers will start in three tiers, and the next tier won’t start until the previous one is finished.

The pro, expert and singlespeed divisions will ride four laps starting at 6 p.m. The sport and youth 16-18 divisions will start their three laps at 7 p.m., and the novice and youth 13-15 classes will start their two laps at 7:50 p.m.

Hines said the format should lend itself to some crowded areas and high-stress passing situations, but, by spreading out the divisions, she’s hoping organizers can keep that element fun rather than fractious.

“The course has a good climb, then a lot of technical zig-zagging on the way down, and the distance is a good distance for us,” Hines said. “It allows us to run it without having too many laps, so hopefully everyone can keep count of what lap they’re on.”

Race-day registration will be available onsite until 5:15 p.m. It will cost $35.

Running race set for Saturday

Local runners will get their chance Saturday with the Mountain Madness half-marathon and 10K race — a race in the Steamboat Springs Running Series.

The races will start at the Steamboat Springs Parks and Community Services building at 245 Howelsen Pkwy., then stretch south and east of town, along River Road.

The 10K course is an out-and-back while the 13.1-mile half-marathon race will include a loop through the Dakota Ridge development.

Director Tyler Jacobs said he’s expecting fewer runners than the 260 who came out last year for what was a race actually on July 4, but he’s still thinking it will be a healthy crowd.

“It was chaos last year,” he said. “This year, it will be a good kickoff to the weekend.”

Registration for the event is available online at runningseries.com and closes at 8 p.m. Thursday. Packet pickup will be available from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday at Twisted Trails Running Co. in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Versions of both races that provide T-shirts are sold out, but a no-frills option is available for both. The half-marathon costs $30 and the 10K $25.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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