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The toughest mountain bike race in the nation

Butte 100 racer Christopher Blair waves as he is greeted at the finish line of the 100-mile bicycle race on Saturday evening at Homestake Pass in Butte. The annual bike race is dubbed the toughest mountain bike race in the nation.

People travel from all over the world to try their hand at the "most difficult mountain bike race in the country," the Butte 100 race series.

This year, over 300 riders from 16 states and two countries competed in the series, and nearly 300 people volunteered. Ask anyone involved in the series and they will tell you the best part of the race is the people.

"My favorite part is the people, both cyclists and volunteers," said Butte 100 race director Len Janson. "It's been awesome. They make my job so easy."

Janson was hired by Butte 100 owner Stephanie Sorini in September 2017. An avid cyclist and lover of Butte, he wanted to find a way to be involved in both communities.

Mykol Larvie, a regular racer from Cambridge, Massachusetts, developed a cold leading up to the race and decided to try a new role in the race — a volunteer. According to Larvie, he had to find some way to be involved in the race.

"This is just the best of Butte," said Larvie. "The best people, the best riding. It's just awesome to be a part of."

Larvie first became involved in the race through a connection to the late Dr. Pete Sorini.

Josh Tostado of Fairplay, Colorado, won the Butte 100 in 9:38:21; Butte's John "Bear" Stillwagon finished less than two minutes after.

This is the first time the Coloradan has raced in Montana.

"I'd heard about it (the Butte 100) and wanted to try it," said Tostado. "There was a lot of climbing in the second half of the course."

The 99.8-mile course of the Butte 100 traces the Continental Divide Trail with over 16,000 feet of elevation gain.

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"I'm glad I came up here. I like trying new races," said Tostado.

According to Tostado, he and Olympian Tinker Juarez were neck-and-neck for the first portion of the race. Eventually the two became separated. Juarez got lost and wasn't able to recover to finish the race. Juarez also became lost on the Butte 100 last year and set the all-time course record in 2013 of 8:03:51.

Stephanie Sorini purchased the race series in 2016 from Bob Waggoner in order to keep the race in Butte and as a tribute to her late husband, Dr. Pete Sorini, the namesake of the Sorini 25.

Over the 12 years of the Butte 100 race series, it has transformed from a handful of local riders to a world-renowned race that attracts professionals and amateurs alike. According to Sorini, the Butte 50 and Sorini 25 races fill up within the first 30 minutes of registration being open.

"This race has an incredible reputation throughout the country," said Sorini.

The event would not be possible without the support of local donations, sponsorships, and volunteers. Every year, local businesses and race enthusiasts come together to support aid stations, road crossings, and free food at the finish line.

"I couldn't do what I do for this race without the team (volunteers)," said Sorini.

Many riders in Butte have come together to create the Butte Coca-Cola Racing team. Together, the riders train year-round, compete, and support each other. The team includes riders from a variety of skill levels.

Amanda Tippett of Butte Coca-Cola Racing did not finish the Butte 50 race this year after competing for the first time in the race last summer. After becoming very sick in the weeks leading up to the race, she had a flare up while competing and decided to drop about 38 miles in.

"It's hard not being able to finish the race you love and train for, for months, but I'm happy for my team," said Tippett.

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