Steamboat Stinger returns for biggest weekend yet |

Steamboat Stinger returns for biggest weekend yet

Austin Colbert

— The fifth installment of the Steamboat Stinger, organized by locally owned Honey Stinger, is back this weekend in Steamboat Springs looking to create even more buzz than it has the previous four years.

"It's a hometown race, and it's on a mountain that everyone loves here in Steamboat," event co-director Sara Tlamka said. "That's kind of what makes it special. And it's kind of a gnarly race. It's a lot of up."

The two-day event starts Saturday with the popular mountain bike race on Emerald Mountain, followed by Sunday's marathon and half marathon on the same trails as the bike race. Registration is already closed for the event; it reached its 600-biker cap months ago.

While the mountain bikers are back in droves, this year has seen a massive increase in the number of runners, with nearly 400 registered. In the race’s inaugural run, there were around 500 bikers and 150 runners, with this race having approximately 175 more runners than any previous year.

"We are really excited to see the numbers grow for that aspect of the race," said Nate Bird, who is in charge of the physical race course. "Cara Marrs and the Steamboat Springs Running Series, they have done a lot of work to help us promote the race and get the word to the regional running community. I'm very thankful to them for that."

A unique aspect of the Steamboat Stinger is the contest for King Sting and Queen Bee, which goes to the top overall male and female who compete in the bike race and run in the full marathon. Last year, the honors went to Gunnison's Jon Brown and Canada's Nicole Todosichuk.

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Bird said 23 people have registered to compete for the overall crown this year.

"I can't imagine running a trail marathon after doing that bike race. But I'm not a runner," Bird said. "It's going to be a busy weekend. There's going to be a lot of people going into the pain cave doing this big endurance race."

An added element for the mountain bikers this year is the Steamboat Stinger's partnership with the Firecracker 50 and the Gunnison Growler races, creating a three-race series a handful of the weekend’s competitors will be taking part in.

The bike race is a 50-mile, two-lap course around some of the popular trails on Emerald Mountain. The course starts near the base of Howelsen Hill and goes up Blackmere to MGM and Blair Witch, around Prayer Flag Road, Beall, Root Canal and to the quarry, then back via Lupine and Bluff's Loop. Then it's rinse and repeat.

Sunday's full marathon will run the same course, only doing one lap. The half marathon does not include Ridge Trail, Cow Creek or Beall Trails.

"Once people have done the race, they realize how enthusiastic and how well put on the race is with the aid stations. It's a whole experience for people," Bird said. "There is potential it could get changed next year with some of the new trails that are being made up there, but people can expect the same, amazing race course this year."

Packet pick-up for the races will take place from noon until 7 p.m. Friday at BAP!, the "Little Red House" located at 735 Oak Street. The course will be open for pre-riding and inspection from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the same day.

Saturday's mountain bike race begins at 8 a.m. with the men's prop/open riders; awards will be presented around 2 p.m. near Olympian Hall. The first wave of Sunday's marathon starts at 7:30 a.m., with awards again at 2 p.m.

Parking is expected to be limited with the Jeff Austin Band in town Saturday evening as part of the Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series, which will also feature a presentation of teams from the U.S.A. Pro Challenge. Steamboat hosts Stage 1 of the Pro Challenge on Monday.

"I think just the overall vibe of the weekend is going to be that much more exciting with the (Pro Challenge) here," Bird said. "Those are some of the world's best athletes, and it's a huge event for Colorado. It just kind of piggybacks perfectly with our event. There's going to be that many more people in town that can check out what's going on at Howelsen. It's a pretty big weekend for Steamboat."

All proceeds raised from the Steamboat Stinger go toward Routt County Riders and Partners in Routt County.

Steamboat Stinger

What: A two-day event that includes a 50-mile mountain bike race and both a full and half marathon

Where: Both bike and running races take place on Emerald Mountain, with the start and finishes located near the base of Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs

When: The bike race takes place Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. The marathons start Sunday at 7:30 a.m., with the awards ceremony taking place around 2 p.m. each day. Packet pick-up takes place Friday from noon to 7 p.m. at BAP!, located at 735 Oak Street.

Why: Proceeds from the races benefit Routt County Riders and Partners in Routt County