On Sunday, September 18th, the Smuttynose Brewing Co. Portsmouth Criterium returns to Market Square for its 7th year, bringing some of the top men and women pro racers in the country here to Portsmouth. Before the pros get on their bikes, though, a perennial favorite day is watching the Kids Races, as young riders sprint up Congress Street. For the 3rd year, Portsmouth Regional Hospital is the proud sponsor of the Portsmouth Criterium Kids Race.
"The Kids Race has really grown over the years along with the pro races - it's a fun community event that I think folks around the Seacoast look forward to annually," said Kids Race Coordinator Scott Bogle of Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes (SABR). "We had almost 170 kids last year - our biggest field ever - and we've had a lot of inquiries and families pre-registering kids already this year."
There will be four races for kids, divided by age group, beginning at 11:00am. The races start with kids ages 4-6 racing 600 meters. There will be separate races for kids with and without training wheels. Kids ages 7-9 will race one lap of the same downtown 0.6 mile course that the pros will race later in the day; and the 10-12 year olds will race two laps. Pre-registering on-line at www.bikereg.com (search Smuttynose) is highly recommended to help ensure a race entry.
Day of Race - On-site registration begins at 8:30am in the Bank of America parking lot. On-site registration ends, and all riders must check-in, by 10:00am. The registration fee for both on-line and race-day registration is $5.00. A properly fitting helmet is required to race, and all racers will receive a helmet fit check. Bicycles will also be checked for safety prior to racing. Please remember to pump up your tires before you come.
"Last year we had 7,000 spectators come to Market Square to watch great bike racing, and a lot of those are families who come to watch their kids in the morning then stick around for the day" noted Bogle. "Bicycling is growing in popularity, and it's great healthy activity for all ages, so it has been a nice fit with Portsmouth Hospital as Kids Race sponsor. Some kids take it more seriously than others - we're starting to see some pretty fast 11-12 years olds out there - but everyone has a good time." Medals are awarded to the top 3 boys and girls in each event, and all entrants receive a participant ribbon. Large fields are divided into heats for safety.
Families that stick around after the kids' race will get to enjoy an afternoon of world class cycling. The criterium style of racing, which features multiple laps on a short circuit, is the most spectator friendly type of bike race, as riders sprint for prizes on each lap and viewers can watch the race develop and the lead change over multiple circuits. There will also be a Lifestyle Expo from 11:00am to 5:00pm on Market and Pleasant Streets featuring sports & recreational vendors and organizations.
For more details on the event, go to www.portsmouthcrit.org. Bring the family and enjoy a great afternoon of cycling and FREE entertainment in Market Square!