Emerald Mountain Epic, formerly the Steamboat Stinger, will return in-person this year with inclusive options
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Emerald Mountain Epic Race Director Eli Campbell isn’t 100% sure how to market the 2021 race, formerly known as the Steamboat Stinger. This will be the 11th time the race is held, the 10th in-person event, the second race being named the Emerald Mountain Epic, but only the first in person since the rebranding and renaming.
No matter which way you cut it, the race is sure to be a hit since it’s planned to be in person Aug. 6 and 7, and has more than a handful of new features to accompany this installment.
“I think we are very optimistic that the race itself, the act of racing will look similar to what people know of this event. It is going to be highly-competitive, challenging single-track course attracting some of the best riders and runners from across the country.”
Festivities at the finish line will likely not look the same, but all athletes will get a post-race meal and beer if all goes well.
The Epic has the same thigh-burning format as the Stinger did, with a day of mountain biking followed by a day of trail running with categories allowing people to do both.
The Epic is gender inclusive in those categories though. There are the King and Queen of the Boat for those who complete the entire 52-mile mountain bike ride and full marathon, but there is also the Monarch of the Boat for those who don’t identify as male or female.
As for the duo mountain bike and half-marathon competitors, they will be crowned Prince, Princess and Royal Highness of the Boat.
Anyone can sign up for any category regardless of how they identify.
“There is a whole group of people that don’t identify as any specific gender or what have you, that want to be able to be involved,” Campbell said. “They’re athletic and want to feel comfortable being involved in these sorts of events, but events haven’t really found a way to open themselves up to them. … We just wanted to show we are inviting to all.”
Registration for all races, virtual options and monthly challenges can be found at emeraldmtnepic.org/registration
At this rate, the event will be sold out in the coming months, so anyone interested in conquering Emerald Mountain solo or with a teammate should sign up sooner rather than later. Registration benefits two area nonprofits, Partners in Routt County and Routt County Riders.
After hearing feedback that some participants love the virtual options, the Epic is keeping them intact. Not only does it allow people to support the nonprofits with a more casual physical accomplishment with the Mini Epics, it also allows people to complete the monster bike or marathon races on their own time without the crowds.
“A silver lining in being forced to go virtual last year was getting feedback from people who participated that said, ‘I always wanted to be a part of this event, but I’m not a racer. I’m intimidated by the race scene,’” Campbell said. “Or people who cared about Routt County Rider or Partners, but for one reason or another said they wouldn’t sign up because they don’t have the competitive instinct or didn’t feel comfortable.”
Mini-Epics include a 10-mile mountain bike ride and a 10-kilometer trail run, allowing any somewhat active individual to participate in some fashion while still scoring a race T-shirt and a swag bag, all while supporting the community.
Those taking part in the virtual events have between July 24 and Aug. 6 to complete their challenges.
Anyone interested in volunteering during the event can sign up at emeraldmtnepic.org/volunteer
Volunteer jobs range from sitting in a shaded spot helping with timing, to riding the course as a sweeper.
Monthly training challenges are free, fun and motivating, pushing every competitor to get in the best shape they can to tackle the Epic. Each challenge is rooted in some facet or factoid of Steamboat Springs history. The April Challenge is dubbed, “Train like an Olympian.”
The challenge encourages people to log training hours with each threshold granting participants a certain amount of entries to win a free entry into the 2021 race.
“We talked (with title sponsor Honey Stinger) about these training challenges that not only motivate people throughout the year to get the best out of themselves, but also talk a little bit more about the history of Routt County and specifically of Emerald Mountain. It’s been really incredible for me, because it gives me an opportunity, I’ve lived here for 20 years, and I’m learning new things and creating these themes and training challenges.”
Campbell has learned about the namesake of T-bar on Emerald, which follows the old lift line of what was, at the time, the longest single span lift in the U.S. He’s also learned about George Bratton, the first person of color to secure a land grant in the Yampa Valley.
“Really interesting things we’re able to tie into helping people train but getting people to learn more about the local history,” Campbell said.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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