Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 5, 2011

Fast and Furious Fest to take over Main Street on Sunday

Action-packed bike races guarantee that the event will live up to its name

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Looking for some thrills? Check out the elite runners and the racing cyclists this Sunday at the Fast & Furious Festival, sponsored by Safeway and Hill Physicians.

"It's fast and furious because of the fast runners and the furious nature of the bike racing," said Chris McCrary, co-found of Katalyst Events, which is hosting the event with the city and the Pleasanton Downtown Association. "You'll have 100 guys going 30 miles an hour in a pack, shoulder to shoulder, going into a corner three or four across. It's action-packed."

The festival is a health and wellness expo with displays by merchants and community groups, and it's a fundraiser for ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). But it's also a chance to see top runners in the Mile of Truth race, which begins at 9:30 a.m. and has a prize purse of $1,500, and racing cyclists who will compete all day in criterium-style bike racing beginning under the Pleasanton Arch on Main Street.

"Typically the course itself is less than one mile in length, and the race is for a specified period of time," McCrary said, explaining criterium-style racing. "The pro men will race for one hour."

"There is an element of danger to it. It's not uncommon to have crashes," he added. "The high anxiety and intensity of it, the team tactics, and pushing yourself to a whole other level of racing makes it exciting." A barricade will keep spectators safe.

The bike races will begin at 10:30 a.m. for Category 5 men, who are avid cyclists but new to bike racing.

"We can't have recreational cyclists come out and race," McCrary explained. "This is for cyclists who have raced before."

Cyclists will race in progressively higher categories until the Pro Twilight Criterium: The women start at 7 p.m. and the men an hour later, with 12 floodlights set up along the course, with a $10,000 prize purse.

"Criterium-style happens all over the place but having it in a perfect downtown setting with shops and restaurants, with residents, that's what's going to make this really special," McCrary said.

The 5K run/walk begins at 8 a.m., and runners and walkers can see their time on the big TV monitor as they cross the finish line. Vendors will have giveaways and demonstrations all day, plus there will be kids activities, live music, a DJ and a beer garden.

"The highlight of the day is going to be watching the Mile of Truth but also coming back in the evening for the Twilight Pro, men's and women's," McCrary said.

A portion of the day's proceeds will be donated to the fight against ALS. In 2010, McCrary's friend, Pete Zucker, an avid cyclist and triathlete and member of the Danville-based Forward Motion Race Club, was diagnosed with the disease.

"He can't compete anymore, but others can, so we decided to put on a race For Pete's Sake and donate a portion of the proceeds to three ALS Foundations (Augie's Quest, ALS TDI, and the Blazeman Foundation) committed to finding a cure for this disease," McCrary said. "If you've ever known anyone with ALS, come out and race for them. If not, then do it for Pete."

For more information or to register, go to www.fastandfuriouspleasanton.com.

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