All Things New for 2017
Reno, NV – After 27 years of producing and promoting the ultra cycling event commonly known as “The 508,” officially as “Silver State 508,” and formally as “Furnace Creek 508,” race director Chris Kostman has turned over the reigns to Robert and Jo Panzera of CCSD, a San Diego-based cycling event production company that operates events across the USA and in Europe.
Said Kostman, “This race has been near and dear to my heart – and the one constant in my life – since 1984, the year after it was created by my mentor and hero, John Marino, the godfather of ultracycling who also created the Race Across America. I first worked at it when I was 17, I raced it twice at age 18 and 19, worked on a support team a few times, officiated a few times, and then became the race director in 1990 with John’s encouragement. I’ll never forget the sense of pride I felt in having John work for me at that first race as I truly wanted to live up to and exceed his expectations. Twenty-one years later he honored me again by competing in the race, alongside fellow Race Across American founders Lon Haldeman, Michael Shermer, and John Howard in the 2011 edition.
“Now it’s time for me to turn the event over to the caring hands, fresh eyes, and dedicated energy of Robert and Jo, and I know they will do big things with the event and nurture it far beyond what I could even imagine. I encourage everyone who has ever been part of The 508 – as racer, crew, volunteer, or staff – to put their full weight behind The 508 this year and far into the future. This event became great because of everyone who contributed to it over the years and it will become greater still with our team effort. I plan to be there this September – maybe even as a participant! – and I look forward to seeing the race expand and flourish.”
While epic routes, a formidable challenge, a friendly camaraderie amongst the racers, and much more have defined the race from the begin, change has also been a constant: It’s had four names: John Marino Open, RAAM Open West, Furnace Creek 508, and Silver State 508. It’s had four routes: a 102-mile loop ridden seven times in the Hemet, California area; a 552-mile out-and-back route between Tucson and Flagstaff, Arizona; a 508-mile horseshoe-shaped loop across the Mojave Desert featuring Death Valley in the middle 100 miles; and, since 2014, across the northern Nevada Outback on Hwy 50, known as “the loneliest highway in America.”
Multiple improvements are planned for 2017, including the new official start/finish host hotel at the Hilton Garden Inn, which is a lovely hotel, much smaller than the previous venue, and is not a casino. It’s much like the type of hotels The 508 used in the past, on the Southern California route, which will make the whole race experience much more intimate and homey. The Hilton Garden Inn is located at what was mile 4.5 of the race route, so this will eliminate a total of nine miles of urban riding at the start and finish of the race, which will be a nice improvement.
Additionally, a finish line breakfast will be served for all riders and crew members at the conclusion of the race. The race has also shifted to a Friday-Sunday schedule so as to avoid end-of-weekend traffic on Sunday afternoon and evening. Racers and crews can now all be back home by then instead! Finally, Robert and Jo will soon be launching a much improved and updated website at www.the508.com, along with many other enhancements to the race.
No newcomers to The 508, Robert and Jo have been involved with event since 2010: Robert was crew chief for Team Yak, who set a 60+ record in 2010. Jo completed the race with the four-woman Team Pine Martens, with Robert as their crew chief, in 2011. In 2012, Robert and Jo ran the Trona time station. On the Nevada route, Jo crew chiefed for the oh-so-memorable Team Chase-adon in 2015 and then Robert and Jo worked the race in 2016: first running time station one, then officiating the route, and then managing – and vastly improving upon – the finish line operations.
Said Robert, “When we heard that Chris Kostman, Director of The 508, was looking to pass the torch of the event, we were honored and excited to have the opportunity to add to the amazing history of this iconic ultra-endurance race. We look forward to providing the same great competitive race, fun race atmosphere, and racer community for many years to come. With the introduction of the Reno start/finish location in 2014, we see a continuing opportunity to grow the event through reaching more riders by expanding the roster for both the two-person and four-person relay divisions, and encouraging those riders to take on the solo challenge in the future. We are glad to have Chris along with us as a consultant in the foreseeable future to continue The 508 in his spirit, passion, and vision. 2017 is going to be an amazing event. September can’t arrive quickly enough!”
Robert and Jo run CCSD, producing their own tough cycling events like the Dirty Devil and St. Paddy’s Palomar Punishment, the iconic Great Western Bicycle Rally over Memorial Weekend in Paso Robles, a full plate of cycling training camps in San Diego County, multi-day tours held in conjunction with the Spring Classics in Belgium, plus pub-to-pub tours in England, and more. On top of that, they also handle – with absolutely incredibly precision – all the operations for the many 2- to 7-day cycling events promoted by Challenged Athletes Foundation.
The 34th Anniversary Silver State 508 will take place on September 15-17, 2017. Founded by John Marino in 1983 and recognized as “The Toughest 48 hours in Sport,” it is the world’s premier 48-hour ultra cycling race. This 508-mile bicycle race is revered the world over for its epic mountain climbs, stark desert scenery, desolate roads, and its reputation as one of the toughest but most gratifying endurance challenges available, bar none. Solo, two-person relay, and four-person relay divisions are offered. Registration is now open.
For additional information and to interact with fellow 508ers, “like” the official 508 Facebook page and click “Going” or “Interested” on the 2017 FB Event Page.