Olympian To Compete In Payson Stampede

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The Payson Stampede mountain bike race is attracting some special attention in its third year of existence.

The race was added to the U.S.A. Cycling national calendar -- something that surprised Carol McCauley, Main Street and Green Valley Park manager, who was instrumental in getting the race in Payson.

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Tinker Juarez

"Getting this race on the U.S.A. Cycling calendar in three years is really exciting," she said. "It has blown me away. I didn't expect it to happen so fast."

The race will also play host to Tinker Juarez -- a two-time Olympian, and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer.

Juarez, now in his 20th season of mountain bike racing, has participated in countless races across the world.

According to Juarez official Web site, he has won three National Off-Road Biking Association (NORBA) cross-country titles, in addition to all of his mountain biking accolades.

He'll take on at least 200 expected competitors in the Stampede's 24-hour endurance challenge this year. McCauley said race directors are expecting more entries than last year's 200-plus competitors.

The 24-hour endurance challenge consists of a 10-mile course that begins at the Payson Event Center and runs through the National Forest, before circling back to Main Street and the event center. The competitor who completes the most laps in the 24-hour period is the winner.

Juarez will participate in the solo competition, but team riding -- usually with four members -- is also an option. Five-member teams area also welcome to compete, McCauley said.

Athlete classification varies depending on the race category and ages of teams -- a team of four is considered to be "juniors" if the ages of all the members add up to 72 years or less. Coed group riding is available, as well as female group riding.

"It ranges everywhere from serious teams to people that just want to see how much they can do," she said.

Events have been added to the race this year, McCauley said. There is now a 6-hour race division, a 12-hour race division and 10, 20 or 50-mile courses. Race coordinators are also working to create a youth element to the race as well.

Spectators may watch the race from the street or the stands at the event center. There will be numerous activities set up for spectators at the event center, McCauley said.

Juarez will be in town on May 4 and will most likely have an autograph session for fans.

"He's such a big name in the sport," she said. "This (race) is blossoming so rapidly. It's really becoming a premiere event."

The Payson Stampede will take place May 5 and 6. For more information about the race or to enter, visit www.tucsonracing.com.

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