"It's fast and furious because of the fast runners and the furious nature of the bike racing," said Chris McCrary, one of the organizers, last year before criterium racing made its Pleasanton debut. "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."
Criterium racing has a short course -- on Sunday less than one mile in length -- with the races lasting a specified period of time. Sunday's races will last from 40 to 75 minutes, ending at the Pleasanton Arch. Last year's event drew 1,200 entries in the running and cycling events, and thousands of onlookers.
All day, the wellness and lifestyle expo will feature local and regional health care vendors, lifestyle companies and specialty product manufacturers. Many merchants and restaurants will offer specials.
The decision to return to Pleasanton was easy since it has so many places downtown to shop and eat for both the athletes and the fans, said McCrary and Kevin Magna, co-founders of Katalyst Events, which hosts the event with the city of Pleasanton and the Pleasanton Downtown Association. Criterium races are often held in business parks with few amenities and even fewer spectators, they noted, so downtown Pleasanton is a real treat for racers.
The total prize money has been increased to $14,500, which is one reason the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association named Fast & Furious the home of this year's NCNCA's Elite Criterium Championship.
New this year is the Safeway Kids' Zone, open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with BMX demo shows, a Striders Race Track for kids ages 3-6, two jumpy houses, mobile video gaming stations and Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department trucks.
At 1:30 p.m. the live music begins with the Clif Bar Band on the Safeway Music Stage followed by headliner Notorious at 3 p.m.
Festival and concert admission is free.
A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to ALS Therapy Development Institute to research Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In 2010, McCrary's friend, Pete Zucker, a cyclist and triathlete and member of the Wells Fargo Cycling team and Forward Motion Race Club, was diagnosed with ALS.
"Pete's fight has provided us with the inspiration and motivation to devote our efforts to a cause much bigger than the sport of running or cycling," McCrary said. "We are committed to raising funds and awareness about ALS. We are essentially no closer to a cure than we were more than 70 years ago when Lou Gehrig fought the disease."
The final professional level race will conclude at 7:45 p.m. The Pleasanton Police Department advised that streets in the immediate area of downtown will be closed between 2 a.m. and midnight Sunday.
Fast & Furious racing begins at 8 a.m. with a 5K Run/Walk. A one-mile open, dubbed the "Mile of Truth," follows the 5K at 9:30 a.m.
Criterium-style bicycle races are scheduled to start at 10:50 a.m. The day concludes with the women's and men's championship races starting at 5:20 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Nationally acclaimed announcer Chad Andrews, who calls races on the USA Pro Cycling tour, will be calling the 5K and Mile of Truth as well as the criteriums.
A free kids run starts at 10:50 a.m.; free kids bike races begin at 2:50 p.m.
For more information, go to www.fastandfuriouspleasanton.com.