The 2012 Butte 100 Mountain Bike Race: On It’s Way

Posted on April 11, 2012

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There’s a  little mountain bike race we call the Butte 100, that I’ve found to be consuming a bit of my time lately; but that’s a good thing. Deemed as the race’s communications director, I’ve been building and maintaining the race’s website, designing shirts & jerseys, social marketing (Facebook & Twitter: @Butte100), creating videos, and helping with organization, starting some merchandising, and other general PR stuff. More importantly though, the master’s thesis  I’ve been working on investigates the communicative function of the Butte 100 mountain bike race bible and the greater race bible genre. In the last two years (and change) I’ve been involved with the Butte 100, I’ve gained an awesome perspective of this event that, not only am I proud to be a part of, but has been a strong undercurrent of much of my recent work.

The race started in 2007 for a handful of bad-ass locals willing to torture themselves for 100 miles of mountain biking. 100 MILES! We’re talking nearly Butte to Missoula- Green Bay to Milwaukee- NYC to Philly! Impressive nonetheless. The race continued for a few years until 2010, when registration literally exploded–the 80 to 216 racer kind of explosion–because of the news of mountain biking legend Tinker Jaurez’s registration. Needless to say, the 2010 edition of the race was a different world. The small team of organizers were simply not prepared for this, supplies ran thin, many things suffered. The communication shortcomings were the generation of my master’s project. In short, the race could be summed up by a quote written on the race’s old website,

“The organizers had the opportunity to put the Butte 100 on the map, and they completely failed in all regards.”

Though it’s painful to think about, Anonymous was kind-of right.

A few weeks after the race Bob the organizer–not Bob the Builder (but kind-of)– walked into the bike shop and told me he was about ready to pull the plug on the entire race. Done. This to me, was worse than any of the painful feedback overheard. I offered my help.

The help I offered eventually evolved into the race bible project–a piece of the larger rejuvenation of the race as a whole, which included branding, streamlining communication, new website, volunteer organization, etc…We set out to prove Anonymous wrong.

On race day, 2011, the work we put in during the off-season correlated to a record numbers of racers-226-a feat nobody, not even the founder himself, saw coming. Things went off without a hitch; we had the newly deemed “neon army” of volunteers marshalling the course better than ever, race videos were published to illustrate the course and foster excitement, the press became involved more than they ever had; all this resulted in a redemption of sorts. People were happy, and happy for the race.

But one year of success can be a fluke just as easily as a year of failure. I still look over my shoulder at that comment. It haunts. This off season, our organizational motivations are to continue the success-to stay on top of the hill. This is equally, if not more, important.

2012 race update…

We opened registration on March 1st for the 2012 race. We’ve seen a response that has never been seen in the history of the race: we reached the maximum racers for the 50-mile race and opened up a waiting list. Within the first 10 days 185 racers signed up… more than the first three races combined. The Butte 100 is on it’s way.

I would never say the Butte 100 has arrived; improvement has no deadline and success should be measured over time. In the short term, though, things are looking good and that’s a long way from the oblivion of possible nonexistence.

*Shameless Plug*

The race is currently seeking interested parties to sponsor a various degree of levels and more troops to enlist in the Neon Army of volunteers.Those interested can head over to www.butte100.com and get signed up!

Also, I would like to share some of the projects and publications that I’ve put together for this years race… peruse, if you like…

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Posted in: Designs, Outside, Video