National titles on line at Firecracker 50 |

National titles on line at Firecracker 50

DEVON O'NEILsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE – There might be more pros in the field, guys like the legendary Tinker Juarez and gals like Shonny Vanlandingham and Melissa Thomas. And the stakes will be higher, now that a victory carries with it a USA Cycling national marathon championship.But Jeff Westcott insists that the seventh annual Firecracker 50 mountain bike epic in Breckenridge really isn’t any different this year than the Fourth of July fixture has been in the past.”I think that the national marathon championship designation will have a modest effect on the field,” the race director said, “but this event has been and will continue to be more about the lifestyle racer than the pro. It’s for guys who work their 40-hour weeks and like to get out on their bikes as much as they can. Just finishing the Firecracker is an honor.”To be sure, however, the addition of the marathon designation is a big deal. Westcott said it was mostly the doing of his former business partner, Mike McCormack, who suggested it then put Westcott in touch with USA Cycling national championship director Justin Rogers.

With last year’s marathon championships having gotten “lost in the hoopla of all the other disciplines” at nationals, according to Westcott, the opportunity to have the Firecracker, a major race in its own right, decide the marathon champs was an ideal fit.And now the big names are coming. Juarez, a Hall of Famer and two-time Olympian, leads the star power, and he’ll be joined by, among others, Thomas, the defending USA Cycling marathon champ, and Durango’s Vanlandingham, one of the top female racers in America.Westcott said this year’s Firecracker course is almost identical to the standard route, with a few minor changes near the Lincoln Park section due to revegetation and trail closures.It is still a two-lap race, with each 25-mile loop climbing more than a mile in elevation, for a total of 10,800 feet gained. The race commences, as always, with a neutral start down Main Street in the Fourth of July parade at 11 a.m., then finishes at Carter Park.Racers can pre-register at, or in person at either Colorado Freeride or Great Adventure Sports. The final chance to pre-register is from 5-9 p.m. July 3 at Great Adventure. Day-of registration is open from 8:30-11 a.m. at Carter Park and will include late fees.

Pre-registration costs $50 for beginners and juniors, who ride a short course called the Sparkler; $65 for open categories and all solos; and $120 for teams.For more info, visit or call (970) 390-4760.

New this year, mountain bikers won’t be the only ones with an athletic outlet to counter their Independence Day partying. The inaugural Breckenridge Independence 10K Trail Run is set for 8:30 a.m. at Carter Park. You’ll still finish in time to watch the parade, too.The race costs $20 in advance and $25 on race day for adults, and $10 ($15 race day) for juniors ages 17 and under.Pre-register at the Breck Rec Center or Great Adventure Sports, or online at Race-day registration will be available at 7:30 a.m. at Carter Park. Call (970) 547-4333 for more info.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-4633, or at

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