While there aren't many people who can endure the race, it's an excellent way to advertise the state's history and vast natural resources.
The adventure of a lifetime is coming to the Cowboy State next month, and officials are hopeful it will shine a light on Wyoming as an outdoor tourism destination.
The Cowboy Tough expedition race will take place across southeast Wyoming from July 18-21, giving 70 athletes the chance to compete over 485 miles of terrain for the chance to win $20,000 in cash and prizes.
The event is being organized by Rev3 Adventure, a Manassas, Va.-based company that specializes in arranging large-scale competitive “adventure races” that incorporate biking, boating, trekking, rappelling and more. The company describes the races as “outdoor multisport cocktails” designed to bring out the best in athletes.
They are sponsored by local and state companies and groups.
“We’re formed around triathlons, and we’ve put on everything from a family adventure race to a three-and-a-half-day expedition adventure race,” said Michael Spiller. He is race director for Rev3 and one of the main coordinators for Cowboy Tough.
Spiller said the Wyoming race is among the most ambitious his company has coordinated. It is based on a five-year plan that is designed to incorporate many parts of the state, ranging from the Killpecker Dunes of the Red Desert to Devil’s Tower to the peaks of the Tetons.
In fact, the only constant from one year’s plan to the next is that each race ends in Casper, though getting there won’t be easy.
“It’s truly going to be one of the toughest races in the world,” Spiller tells the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “We’re the only race that is a national qualifier for three different championship race associations.”
This first year’s race will start at Curt Gowdy State Park and take racers over the rocks of Vedauwoo, along Happy Jack Trail and into Medicine Bow National Forest and up the Laramie Mountains.
But Spiller, a veteran racer himself, doesn’t just want this to be a race but also a reminder of Wyoming’s history.
For example, he said, racers will be expected to complete five miles of the race near Martin’s Cove by pulling a handcart. The idea is based on the Martin Company, a group of Mormon emigrants who passed through the area with their own handcarts in November 1856. Many died at the cove from the brutal Wyoming winter.
“Part of the race takes place on the Pony Express trail,” Spiller said. “You will be racing through history. There are three different water sections, lots of back road biking and altitude changes from 6,000 feet to 11,000 feet.”
Due to the conditions of the race, Spiller said racers only can apply if they have qualified in a 24-hour adventure expedition race or in an ironman competition. But despite those high qualifications, he is hopeful the attention the race draws will convince others to give Wyoming’s great outdoors a chance.
He’s not the only one. Renny MacKay, Gov. Matt Mead’s spokesman, said the governor is eager to see what kind of attention Cowboy Tough will bring to the state.
“(He) was talking about this when he was campaigning,” MacKay said. “He wanted to have an event here in Wyoming that would highlight this state at the national level.
“Wyoming does have some of the best resources for outdoor activities, and we’re gaining a reputation for mountain biking, rock climbing.”
Diane Shober, director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism, agreed. She said as Cowboy Tough grows larger from year to year, she expects word of mouth to spread about how great the outdoors can be here.
Spiller said he doesn’t intend to leave the public out of Cowboy Tough. Rev3 has arranged side events that will run alongside the race. These include a 5K “glow run” and family movie night on the July 19; an urban challenge on July 20 that will incorporate running, biking and swimming; and a family adventure race on July 21 in which parents and children will team up to race along the Platte River Trail.
All three days will feature a family health and fitness outdoor expo. Each of those events will take place in Casper, but Spiller said he hopes to have similar events in other cities in later years.
“When we come into a city, we want put on multiple events catered to what that city wants to highlight,” he said.
Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Photo credit: Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Amber MacPherson / Flickr