Sold-out Stinger returns Saturday to Steamboat |

Sold-out Stinger returns Saturday to Steamboat

Jason Grubb competes in the Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race on Emerald Mountain in 2011. This year's race is Saturday at Emerald Mountain followed by the marathon and half-marathon Sunday.

— Nate Bird said he doesn't hold a grudge because when faced with the same problem, he's looked for the same loophole.

That doesn't mean he can help any of the friends, acquaintances or even strangers who have called in the past five months looking for help.

If it were a pro sports ticket, it'd be the Broncos at home in the playoffs. If it were an event, it'd be the Great American Beer Festival.

The Steamboat Stinger is a bike race, and it's the hottest ticket in town. Like the Broncos playing at home or the instantly sold-out beer festival, if you wanted in, you should have been sitting at the computer when registration opened. At this point, it's too late even for a phone call to a buddy.

"It's people who didn't realize the race would fill up so fast. That's really a trend these days," said Bird, a Honey Stinger employee who spent his week buried by race preparations and trail-marking tours.

"With this type of mountain bike race, you had better be at your computer and ready when the clock strikes to get in. Otherwise, it's tough," he said.

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The Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race will kick off its third year at 8 a.m. Saturday, and in its short life, it has become one of the biggest events on the local sporting calendar. It returns this year with a sold-out field of 560 cyclists ready to tackle a pair of 25-mile loops on Emerald Mountain above downtown Steamboat Springs.

It sold out the day of registration for last year's race, and this year, all the spots were gone in just a few hours.

The running trail marathon a day later isn't sold out, but 260 runners are expected to participate in a 26.2-mile race and a 13.1-mile half-marathon.

At Honey Stinger, the race's main sponsor, it's a week that's dreaded in some small "no time to eat or sleep" sense but relished in every other way.

"It's not only showcasing our town but (also) Honey Stinger, and considering that everyone on staff is pretty much a runner or a cyclist, this is what we love," Bird said. "It's our passion. We live here, we work here and we play here, and we get excited to show that off to everyone else."

Lance Armstrong ran in the trail marathon a year ago, but he's not expected to return to defend his title in the first year of that running element of the weekend.

A prerace meeting for the mountain bike race is at 7:45 a.m. Saturday with the pro and open men’s division starting at 8 a.m. The final of three waves begins at 8:20 a.m., and awards are set for 2 p.m.

The marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday with the half-marathon beginning at 7:40 a.m. Awards again are scheduled for 2 p.m.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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