December 19, 2013
Evans, GA - Columbia County has been selected to host the 2015 and 2016 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships. The announcement was made today by USA Cycling, the national governing body for bicycle racing in the United States, and the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the organization responsible for submitting the bid.
"USA Cycling is excited about bringing our premier endurance mountain bike championship to the Southeastern United States," said Micah Rice, vice president of National Events for USA Cycling. "As a stand-alone event, the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships have never been east of the Mississippi River and the fantastic trails of Columbia County, Georgia will create a great venue for all of our participants."
The event will be staged out of Wildwood Park in Appling. The approximately 65-mile circuit will utilize the Bartram and Keg Creek Trails on a course that stretches from the West Dam Recreation Area to Mistletoe State Park. The race is expected to draw 400 competitors. Dates for the championships have not been set.
"We're honored to have been chosen by USA Cycling to host this prestigious event," said Randy DuTeau, executive director of the Columbia County CVB. "In addition to attracting a significant number of visitors to the area, the high-profile nature of the championship will generate tremendous exposure for our county's great recreational resources."
The USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships will complete a two-year run in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2014. That event is being held in conjunction with the Sun Valley Bike Festival. The Columbia County CVB plans to emulate that model by developing an outdoor festival that will include a trail-running race, mountain bike demos, and other activities to run in conjunction with the national championships. Local organizers plan to host a mountain bike race and trail run on the proposed championship course in 2014, which will serve as a "test run" for the nationals. That event date will be announced shortly.
"Columbia County is primed to become a major Southeastern destination for outdoor enthusiasts," said Mr. DuTeau. "Clarks Hill Lake, the Savannah River, excellent parks, and a multitude of mountain bike trails in the area give us a tremendous advantage in attracting active lifestyle visitors. The exposure generated by hosting such a prestigious event will provide an even greater platform for spreading the word. If you're looking for adventure in Columbia County, it's here!"