Firecracker 50 explodes onto Breck
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
In 2000, Jeff Westcott, along with his friend Mike McCormack, envisioned an athletic endeavor worthy of the holiday weekend, because, well, nothing was offered for local mountain goats and outdoors enthusiasts wishing for organized physical activity.
“We were underwhelmed by the parade and we thought (it) would be a nice fit with an athletic event,” organizer Westcott said. “We launched the first race in 2001.”
And the rest is history. The annual Firecracker 50 returns to Breck today for its eighth year. With 725 cyclists participating in last year’s event, Westcott is expecting another full house.
The local marathon race consists of two 25-mile laps.
“We do not offer a one-lap race for single people. It’s the Firecracker 50,” Westcott said. “It would really water down the event if we offered a 25-mile race.”
Thus, the 2-person team option was born. Each teammember completes one lap. Last year hosted 100 teams, the most the race has seen.
“The event is a spectacle,” Westcott said. “It has a certain energy that’s hard to define. People really seem to embrace it.”
And for the second year in a row, the Firecracker 50 will host the USA Marathon MTB National Championships. USA Cycling is a competitive organization that provides opportunities to compete in more than 3,000 bike events on a local, regional and national level.
Twelve people will be crowned “National Champion.” These hardworking folks will receive stars-and-stripes jerseys, and the top three will take home medals ” prized possessions in the cycling world. Though the race’s format is the same, the “Open Category” will compete for the National Champion title. Other categories include Maverick men and women, singlespeed, sport and clydesdale. To vie for the Champion title, riders must hold a USA National Cycling license.
The race starts Breck’s Fourth of July Parade and from there sends racers into the backcountry where they’ll face lungbusters, fast descents and plenty of singletrack. Riders are provided with four aid stations per lap.
Junior and beginner participants race in the Sparkler category, a 14-mile portion of the 25-mile loop.
Though considerably shorter than its parent race, the Sparkler still provides lots of technical terrain and substantial climbs.
“It’s not just for kids,” Westcott said.
Last year, pro cyclist Jay Henry of Avon won his first Firecracker 50 and claimed the USA Cycling National Marathon Championship title after finishing second in three of six previous Firecrackers. His 50-mile time of 3:40:48 is now the time to beat for 2008 participants.
On the pro women’s side, Shonny Van Landingham won with a time of 4:30:03, and two-time Olympic champ Tinker Juarez placed first in last year’s Open Men 40-49 class (4:06:52).
Though the race hosts lots of top national riders, according to Westcott, the Firecracker is about the “everyday rider” ” all the hardworking men and women that are passionate about mountain biking.
Onsite registration is available today starting a 8 a.m. at Carter Park. The race starts at 11 a.m. down Main Street and will conclude back at the registration area. For more information about the Firecracker 50 or to see a race map, go to
Caitlin Row can be contacted at (970) 668-4633.
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