ST. GEORGE — Hundreds of professional and amateur athletes are gearing up to battle the brutal southern Utah landscape and a fierce field of competitors during the Fifth annual True Grit Epic mountain bike race on Saturday.
“We warn competitors in advance that this is one of the toughest and most technical courses they’ll ever race,” Cimarron Chacon, race director and president of GRO Promotions, said. “But we also let them know that it’s one of the most beautiful courses they’ll ever experience.”
True Grit Epic starts and finishes in downtown Santa Clara. After traveling a few miles on historic, tree-lined streets, the course takes riders into the desert southwest of town for either a 50-mile race (one course lap) or a 100-mile race (two laps around the course).
“This race is a roller coaster; the total elevation gain for the full two laps is more than 15,000 feet,” Chacon said. “The course climbs to the top of four different ridges— allowing the racers to take in some awesome scenery.”
This year’s race is attracting more than 400 racers, with most coming from outside the area. Participation in True Grit Epic has grown dramatically in recent years, due in large part to the race being selected as the season opener for The National Ultra Endurance Series.
“It’s exciting to have so many out-of-towners experience St. George,” said Roxie Sherwin, director of the St. George Tourism Office. “We know that as soon as visitors come here once, they almost immediately start planning their return visit.”
The National Ultra Endurance Series is made up of only 13 mountain bike events across the country, plus one international race in Costa Rica. For 2015, the National Ultra Endurance series will offer a shared $13,000 in cash awards and additional prize packages.
“We are pleased to have another local sporting event gain national recognition,” said Kevin Lewis, director of sports marketing for the St. George Tourism Office. “Mountain bikers are quickly realizing that St. George is the place to go for trail variety and perfect weather.”
In addition to the rugged course and incredible scenery, the race is also known for its festival-like finish line which will be at the Santa Clara Town Hall this year. The finish festival features a live band, beer garden and plenty of post-race grub.
This year’s race is sold out for the professional categories. However, there is still space available for male and female amateur athletes to enter the 50-mile race in their age groups. Late registration will take place on Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Red Rock Bicycle Company in St. George.
About True Grit Epic
True Grit Epic is a premier mountain biking event in Southern Utah that combines the area’s acclaimed red rock vistas with a festival-like atmosphere. The race is held each year in the rugged desert landscape near St. George. The tagline for the race, “A Long, Tough & Technical Mountain Bike Race,” serves as a perfect description of what racers can expect during the early-season and ultra-endurance event. The technical course combines three popular riding zones in the St. George area: Red Bluff, Curly Hollow and Boomer Hill.
- What: True Grit Epic mountain bike race
- When: Saturday, March 14
- Where: Downtown Santa Clara
- Late registration: Friday, 2-7 p.m., Red Rock Bicycle Company, 446 West 100 South, St. George
- True Grit Epic website
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- True Grit: National Ultra Endurance racers cover 100 miles of dirt in Southern Utah; STGnews Videocast and Photo Gallery
- Southern Utah mountain biking, cycling events