Cactus Cup returns to McDowell Mountain Regional Park

The Cactus Cup is slated for March 8-10 at the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. (Submitted photo)

The Specialized Cactus Cup Mountain Bike Stage Race will take place March 8-10, when over 1,000 bikers from across Arizona and the Southwest will gather at McDowell Mountain Regional Park bear Fountain Hills to celebrate this spring event.

Taking place over three days in March, the Cactus Cup includes three races for professionals, amateurs and juniors. This is three days of racing to crack open the season featuring a Short Track, XC and Enduro event.

To chase the Cactus Cup and capture the overall title, all three days of the stage race must be completed, according to a press release.

Founded in 1991, the Cactus Cup is rooted in Arizona’s mountain biking history and helps bring awareness to the sport and contribute to trail development and the advent of mountain bike racing in the state until the last race in 1999. Hub Events revived it in 2017.

Today’s Specialized Cactus Cup is continuing the tradition of bringing professional and amateur mountain bikers and their families together for a weekend of competition while encouraging a new generation through the addition of kids’ races and activities, a release states.

“The Specialized Cactus Cup provides something for the whole family; challenging race courses for the beginner to seasoned athlete, kids’ racing for all ages, food trucks, live entertainment and a Huss Brewing Beer Garden,” Sage Melley, race director, said in a prepared statement,

Before the last race in 1999, the Cactus Cup had become the sport’s noted season-opener, gaining international attention and growing to attract thousands of riders annually.

Over the years, cyclists such as Ned Overend, John Tomac, Dave Wiens, Travis Brown, Tinker Juarez, Juli Furtado, Alison Sydor, Susan DiMattei and Ruthie Matthes competed in the race.

Arizona locals such as Scott Paulsel, Doug Roether, Andy Gelle, Jon Milliken and Dan Basinski also competed.

A prize purse of $5,000 will be distributed among the top five elite male and female finishers of the Cactus Cup, and the top elite male and female finishers of the short track.

Unlike other races, competitors do not need to be qualified professionals to register for the elite race. Racers must compete all three days of the event to be eligible for the overall title.

The kids race is slated for Saturday, March 9, which will include a balance bike race for kids ages 1-5 and a pedal bike race for kids ages 4-12.  Registration for the Cactus Cup is open.

For Adults/Elites, the Cactus Cup is $109; the Mini Cup is $95. For Juniors (9-18), both the Cactus Cup and the Mini Cup is $65. The kids’ race is $10.

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