Outdoors

Inaugural Ben Parsons Spirit Bear Classic

All-day mountain bike event to honor Whitefish firefighter who died tragically in January

On July 8, mountain bikers will have the chance to chase the Spirit Bear around the single-track trails of Herron Park.

The inaugural Ben Parsons Spirit Bear Classic is an event to honor the accomplished endurance athlete and Whitefish firefighter who died tragically on Jan. 5 in a backcountry skiing accident.

Affectionately nicknamed “Spirit Bear,” Parsons, 36, left behind a wife and son, as well as a sprawling community of friends and family, who combined their efforts to organize the all-day mountain biking event.

Matt Butterfield, Sheli Thomas and Loren Mason-Gere took the lead on coordinating logistics, knowing that Parsons would have wanted the event done right.

The Kalispell native, a devoted family man and friend to many, was well-known throughout the community, where he was recognized for his unrivaled prowess as an elite mountain biker and ski mountaineer, as well as for his infectious smile and gregarious nature.

Races of varying distances start at 10 a.m. and feature free demo bikes, free barbecue, food vendors, music by Badger Hound, and on-site camping available for $10.

All proceeds go to the Ben Parsons Family Fund, which was started to help support Parsons’ family.

Register for the race at www.usacycling.org/events/state_search.php?state=MT or register at the race for an additional $5.

For more information, contact race director Sheli Thomas at thomasshelit@gmail.com.

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