Town Challenge races return for summer

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The scenic trails at the base of Howelsen Hill will provide the setting Wednesday for the first Town Challenge mountain bike race of the season.

"It's always a big race," director Gretchen Sehler said. "The people I've talked to are excited and ready to go."

She said she saw plenty of them during the weekend while preparing the 3.2-mile course, which uses the Bluff's Circuit on the lower part of Howelsen Hill.

Riders can register to ride in the first race for $11 at the Parks and Recreational Services Building on Howelsen Parkway before 5 p.m. today. Riders also can register at the race start, near the stables, the day of the race for $15.

Although there are still a few patches of snow along the course, Sehler said all but a few of the single-track sections are dry and ready to be ridden.

Sehler is anticipating large fields for the opening event once again this year. Last year, 195 racers showed up for the first race of the season.

Barkley Robison set the pace in that race with a time of 53 minutes, 35 seconds in the men's open class. Riders in that class completed four, 3.2-mile loops.

Katherine Zambrana took top honors in the women's event. She finished three laps with a time of 45:26.

Sehler said she is anticipating similar numbers for this year's first event and expects most of the top racers in the area to be on hand for the event.

The event will begin with the junior divisions. The 8-and-younger class will be the first to leave the starting line and will be followed by the other junior divisions.

The adults will begin at 6 p.m. with the men's novice 19 to 29. The other men's novice classes, the women's sport, women's novice and teen 16 to 18 groups will follow and will complete two laps.

The men's open class will begin at 6:36 p.m. and will compete on a four-lap course. The men's expert, women's expert and men's sport classes will follow and compete on a three-lap course. The series offers 21 classes for riders of all ages and abilities.

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