Steamboat Stinger adds Bumble Bee crown to accommodate race’s growth | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Stinger adds Bumble Bee crown to accommodate race’s growth

Riders work their way up the Steamboat Stinger course during the 2017 race. The event adds a Bumble Bee division this year, which includes a half-marathon option for runners in addition to their duo mountain bike race Saturday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Some of the best endurance athletes in the ‘Boat will be crowned this weekend at the annual Steamboat Stinger. The popular event consists of a 52.4-mile mountain bike race, which can be split with a partner for a duo race, on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.

Each year, the race crowns the King Sting and Queen Bee to the people with the best combined times from the full mountain bike race and full marathon.

But this year, the race has added a half-marathon option, which led to a new crown — the Bumble Bee. The award will be presented to the top man and woman with the best overall half-marathon and duo lap mountain bike ride times.

"We wanted to provide some flexibility and options to accommodate athletes of all abilities," Honey Stinger marketing coordinator Kirsten Citik said. "There isn't a huge portion that has to be adjusted with the addition of the Bumble Bee. The biggest component is timing, since we combine times from Saturday bike and Sunday run — it's mostly logistical changes for the timing crew."

There are currently 1,167 racers registered for the Stinger, which includes 74 people signed up for both the mountain bike and running races. Twenty-seven men and five women will be competing for the King Sting and Queen Bee titles, while 20 men and 22 women will compete for the Bumble Bee crowns. The King and Queen Bees will receive Big Agnes tents, while the Bumble Bees will receive Helinox camping chairs.

What started as strictly a mountain bike race has steadily grown into an event that brings together both the running and cycling communities.

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Course director Nate Bird said the race has improved each year as Honey Stinger and Big Agnes have learned how to organize the race. This year, the race will keep the exact same routes from last year, which mainly feature single-track trail.

"What's super special and unique is that we're all employees at Honey Stinger and Big Agnes," Bird said. "We put this race on to showcase a local business and what an awesome place Steamboat is, and it shows our pride in the community."

Organizing the race is a year-round commitment. The planning for the 2019 Stinger will start in just a few short months, but it’s the months leading up to the race and race weekend that involve the most time away from the office.

This weekend, Honey Stinger and Big Agnes employees will work from 4:45 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday to set up and run the race. Bird was even out marking the course on Thursday. Cleanup will take place on Monday.

"For us, it's such an iconic race and represents our company so well, so it's worth it both personally and as a company to pull it off," Citik said.

The race will also welcome 130 volunteers, who will help with various duties, like running the aid stations. Bird will be overseeing the aid station at the top of Beall and Cow Creek trails.

"We have a super enthusiastic aid station — people really eager to help, cheer you on and add a little bit of heckling," Bird said.

The mountain bike race has sold out every year, including this year, and the half and full marathons are expected to sell out by Sunday. All of the proceeds from the race go to Routt County Riders and Partners of Routt County, which provides mentors to local youth.

The mountain bike race will open with the pro/open men and women divisions at 8 a.m.  Saturday, while the marathon and half-marathon will start at 7 and 7:30 a.m. respectively on Sunday.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.