BIGFORK – Last week, Rob Brisendine walked across a quiet and untouched hilltop overlooking Flathead Lake. On May 11, the hill will look a lot different as more than 4,000 participants race towards the top in the first ever Montana Spartan Race.
The Spartan Race is a 4.9-mile obstacle race near Bigfork organized by the Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau. Brisendine said obstacle racing is one of the country’s fastest growing sports and the May 11 event will bring $1 million to the local economy. The convention and visitors bureau have been working with Spartan Race, one of the largest adventure racing organizers in the country, for more than a year to bring the event to the Flathead.
“It will bring a lot of brand exposure to Kalispell that we just can’t afford on our own,” Brisendine said. “We’re trying to position Kalispell as an adventure destination. We want to attract active people to visit our area.”
Brisendine said that 4,000 people are already registered for the event and 62 percent of participants are from outside the area. The race starts at 8 a.m. and will be held in heats of 200 to 250 people over seven hours.
Organizers are building the course on 600 acres of leased land just south of Bigfork. Over the next few weeks, Spartan Race crews will construct a fire jump, barbed wire crawl, rope courses and a wall climb, which will be just a few of the 15 to 20 challenges racers will encounter.
Food and beer vendors will also be on hand to feed the more than 2,500 spectators that are expected to attend. To accommodate the thousands of people, a parking area will be established at the corner of Highways 35 and 82 in Bigfork and shuttle buses will be running between the lot and the race site. Parking is $10. Spectator passes are $20.
Brisendine has attended two Spartan Races before, one in Sacramento and another in Las Vegas. He said even if someone doesn’t participate, it is a fantastic event to watch.
“People are very focused during the event, but after it’s very festive,” he said.
A pregame party will be held at Sportsman and Ski Haus in Kalispell on May 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Organizers say the event will allow racers to get any last-minute information about the race. The pregame party will include a concert from the Copper Mountain Band, free food, beer vendors and Spartan Race obstacles that the public can try out.
Sportsman and Ski Haus’ Mike Perrin said the partnership between the outdoors store and the race was an obvious one.
“Events like this usually happen in urban areas and to have it happen in an outdoor mecca like this is just fabulous,” he said. “Sportsman and Ski Haus is really passionate about the outdoors and we think this will help make Kalispell an adventure destination.”
For more information about the race, visit www.spartanrace.com.
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