After a break of about two decades, Criterium Racing return to Columbia on June 25th.
The Criterium at the Columns will be held on June 25 from 8:45am to 5:30pm in downtown Columbia with a variety of races. The best racers receive prizes ranging from medals to cash prizes.
Criterium races, sometimes called crit races, consist of multiple laps around a closed road course, typically about a mile long.
Brian Kukla is co-owner of the CycleX Bike Shop and runs the race. He said there had long been discussions about bringing a criterium race back to Columbia and he looks forward to making it a reality and hopes it becomes an annual event.
“There are cities our size, if not smaller, that host huge races where the streets are packed with spectators,” Kukla said. “It’s a huge event – sort of a block party. So this could turn into something pretty cool.”
Kukla said that while many people have expressed excitement at the latest happening in downtown Columbia, it is particularly exciting for those who remember Columbia’s Criterium race a few decades ago.
Kukla said the high-intensity races usually boil down to the group of racers engaged in a sprint finish, which is exciting for the crowd.
“Crit racing is the most spectator-friendly form of racing,” he said. “Because we’re on the road so often, spectators can always find a good seat on the track.”
A corner of the route passes Shakespeare’s Pizza and Campus Bar & Grill, which Kukla expects will be a popular area among spectators.
“You’re right on the track and you see the action,” he said. “Even for people who have never ridden a bike or aren’t really interested in bike racing, it’s still a cool event to come by and check out.”
Given Columbia’s location between St. Louis and Kansas City, Kukla is hoping that nearby racers will come to participate. Criterium racers in the region currently have to travel across the Midwest to compete, with Kukla saying he traveled up to nine hours from St. Louis for a race.
Registration is now open on BikeReg.com and registration prices will increase after the June 23rd deadline. Racers aged 10 and under can participate in a free race, which is more relaxed with a shorter distance.