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Interview with Furious3 MTB stage race creator Mark Kaltenbach

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |January 6, 2012 2:53 AM
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Interview with Furious3 Creator Mark Kaltenbach

Have you been thinking about doing a mountain bike stage race but werenít quite sure you wanted to bust off a 6 or 7-day super-epic? Well now might be your chance to dip your toe in the MTB stage racing pool.

Introducing the Furious3. Three separate 3-day stage races located in some of the greatest mountain bike towns in North America: Whistler, Moab, and Fernie.

Race director Mark Kaltenbach started the first Furious3 last summer in Fernie, British Columbia. This season he has expanded including one race in mountain bikingís original Mecca, Moab, Utah.

Mark sat down with us to talk about what riders can expect at any of the Furious3 events and why hitting a Furious3 event in 2012 may just make your season.

Read our interview below.

MTB Race News - Why did you choose these three locations for the Furious3.

Mark Kaltenbach - Each of the 3 locations, Fernie, Whistler and Moab, were all specifically chosen for the availability of world-class trails and world-class amenities. I not only wanted to showcase the trails that are available, but in keeping with the model of Furious3 wanted to offer activities for family and supporters to do while their athletes are racing as well as for athletes after the race each day.

MTB Race News - What experience would you like racers to come away with after finishing a Furious3 event?

Mark Kaltenbach - I believe that every rider will take away a different experience from the Furious3 events. The competitive racers will come away feeling like theyíve been challenged and done a course that they normally wouldnít be able to experience in a race setting. I would like all athletes to go away feeling like they have challenged themselves and feel like theyíve accomplished something special.

MTB Race News - What do you like about the 3 days stage race format?

Mark Kaltenbach - Having raced a few longer stage races I have found that there are a lot of limiting factors for most people to be able to do these. The concept of the 3-day race allows more people the ability to be able to take part in these events without spending thousands of dollars on a single entry fee, without having to take a large portion of their vacation and spend it away from their family, and ride huge amounts of miles which would require larger amounts of training. The 3-day format is geared to be more accessible to a greater range of participant.

MTB Race News - You are going to places known for serious technical riding. How technical/difficult will the stages be?

Mark Kaltenbach - I wonít lie. I am a mountain biker that believes that if Iím spending money to do a race I donít want to ride fire roads and double track for miles on end. I want to do as much singletrack and technical riding as I can. I would have to say that overall most people can ride these courses, but for a person that has never ridden a mountain bike this may not be an event for you. For anyone with beginner technical ability these are definitely doable. There isnít any North Shore type riding with skinnys and teeter totters as killing people on the course seems to be highly frowned upon.

MTB Race News - How long would you like each stage to be both for a pro and the average rider?

Mark Kaltenbach - Rather than going by distance I prefer to look at it more as a matter of time. The goal is to create routes that will be approximately 2 hours for the fastest guys and approximately 6 hours for the slowest on the shorter days and about 3 hours for the quicker guys and 8 hours maximum on the long day. Usually days 1 and 3 will be the shorter days and day 2 will be the longest day. 

MTB Race News - Will all the stages be run in a cross country format or are you planning to mix things up with time trials or downhill stages?

Mark Kaltenbach - This is absolutely a cross country race experience. I want to focus and make this the best possible race possible. Adding too many events would take away from what Iím trying to accomplish.

MTB Race News - Will the stages feature a common start area in the host city or will you have remote starts?

Mark Kaltenbach - Each race will be a bit different in this aspect. For instance, in Fernie you can start in town and literally be into the singletrack in 2 minutes. In Whistler and Moab we will be starting and finishing at remote locations very close to town.  When I say close to town I mean you can easily ride from town to the start line if you want to.

MTB Race News - What can riders expect for support both on and off the course?

Mark Kaltenbach - On course there will be Certified Medical support for both on course medical and medical extraction. We will have medical personal at the finish line as well as bike support and a recovery station provided by Hammer Nutrition with food and drink to start the athlete on their way to recovering for the next days ride. We will have a minimum of 2 aid stations each day that will be supplied with Hammer Nutrition products such as Heed, Hammer Bars, Hammer Gels, Endurolytes and Fizz as well as water, oranges, bananas and Coke for nutrition. We will also have some basic tools, parts and first aid at each aid station. The thing that sets our event apart from others is that we have 2 special needs bags that are given to each athlete at registration. Each day they can fill these with items that they figure they may need at the appointed aid stations. They drop these bags off at the start line and we take them to the aid station for them to be waiting there for them. At the end of the day they can pick these bags up and get them refilled for the next day.

MTB Race News - What is your background in racing and race organization? 

Mark Kaltenbach - I have been racing in some aspect or other for the last 25 years. I started off racing BMX when I was 14 and then graduated to road racing in my late teens. Of course when mountain biking started to evolve I jumped on that bandwagon and did that for over a decade. Then it was time to do some triathlon and I raced over 100 races consisting of sprint distance to Ironman distance triathlons in Canada and Australia. Once I got that out of my blood I got back to my mountain biking roots for fun and fitness. Throw in a handful of Marathons, adventure races and various distance run events and youíve got a pretty complete resume. I owned a couple bike shops which I have since sold and along with that organized a series of triathlon races in Alberta, Canada. I guess you could say Iíve been around the industry a little while.

MTB Race News - What lessons did you learn after doing last yearís Furious3 in Fernie?

Mark Kaltenbach - The biggest and most exciting thing that I learned was how popular this sort of event is going to be. When I originally opened registration I figured Iíd open it to 200 entries and keep it simple the first year. I opened registration about 10 months before the event and was pleasantly surprised when it filled in 2 weeks. I then opened it up to another 100 people and filled those spots in another week. A few weeks later and I had over 100 more people signed up on the wait list. Thatís where I knew I had found a niche and decided to try it in a few different locations.

MTB Race News - Do you know the course you will be using for the Moab event?

Mark Kaltenbach - Currently the course is preliminary as we have submitted for permits etc., but we are looking at Day 1 being a mix of the Sovereign Trails and Moab Brand Trails for approximately 35 miles.  On Day 2 weíll be heading from the Bar M parking lot and crossing under the highway to Gemini Bridges Road and up to Little Canyon Rim and back down Metal Masher. Weíll follow Metal Masher to the new Magnificent Seven Trails and then connect up to Gold Bar Rim and then back to the Start/Finish area via Gemini Bridges Road. This will be about 40 miles for Day 2. For Day 3 we are still working it out. We have 3 options and are trying to decide the best alternative. So this will have to be a secret for a few more weeks.

MTB Race News - Moab has several classic trails like Slickrock and Porcupine Rim. Are you going to try and incorporate any of those?

Mark Kaltenbach - We will definitely not be doing Slickrock. Itís a Classic trail, but as far as logistics itís just not a possibility for what I want to do. Porcupine Rim might be a possibility for day 3, but we are weighing a few options right now.

MTB Race News - Is there an overall Furious3 title for riders who compete in more than one Furious3 event?

Mark Kaltenbach - This year there wonít be a series title, but it is something I am looking at in the future.

MTB Race News - How many racers did you have at the Fernie Furious3 last year and how many are you expecting in 2012?

Mark Kaltenbach - We had 300 entries in Fernie this year and like I said, we also had a lot of people on the wait list. This year we are opening it up to 400 in Fernie, 500 in Whistler and 500 in Moab.

Click Here to learn more about participating in a Furious3 event


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