USA Pro Challenge asks Grand Junction to consider hosting 2016 start

It would be Colorado community's first time hosting a stage and the Western-most start for the race

Organisers of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado have asked the Western Slope community of Grand Junction to consider hosting the start for the sixth edition of the race in 2016, according to a report in the Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction's newspaper.

Members of the local organising committee met with economic development leaders last week to discuss the possibility and were scheduled to meet again today during a Grand Junction City Council workshop, according the to the report.

Grand Junction would be the Western-most start for the race since it began in 2011. Grand Junction has bid several times to be a host city, but the race has favoured sticking with the ski resorts and mountain towns before a traditional finish in downtown Denver.

The local organising committee estimated hosting the race would cost about $300,000. City officials need to decide within a few weeks whether to move froward with a proposal. The biggest requirement for a host city is providing more than 1,800 hotel rooms for teams, staff and various race entourage.

USA Pro Challenge organisers had previously hoped to host a stage in Grand Junction if the race could run a stage through the Colorado National Monument, but the National Parks Service repeatedly denied permission to go through the park. Local organising committee members said the race has dropped that condition to host a stage, according to the newspaper report. Durango, which hosted the 2012 start, is currently the Western-most community to kick off the Colorado race.

News that the race is moving forward with plans for a sixth edition in 2016 comes at a time when the future of the event is in question. Earlier this year USA Pro Challenge owners Richard and Rick Schaden relinquished control of the race after investing more than $20 million dollars since its first edition in 2011.

The Schadens, a father and son, have reportedly moved most of the small day-to-day staff at the USA Pro Challenge to a new company that is buying and promoting marathons and other running events, leaving USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter and Denver businessman Ken Gart to search for a large collection of community-based and national investors that can move the race forward.

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