NEW BRITAIN - Every summer the cycling criterium is one of Patrick Fisherâ€™s favorite events.
Not only do the races draw some of the top participants from the region and nationally ranked riders, they signify the official start of the Nutmeg State Games, which will kick off its 31st year, its 10th in New Britain.
â€śThe events are competitive,â€ť said Fisher, the executive director of the Connecticut Sports Management Group, which runs the Nutmeg Games. â€śItâ€™s probably the second largest individual sporting event we have behind the track and field (which will take place July 13). Itâ€™s about putting on a well-run event for the residents of New Britain and people to enjoy.â€ť
The criterium is set to take place Saturday at Walnut Hill Park and Fisher is expecting the number of participants to be around 400 after Thursdayâ€™s pre-registration deadline and final signups on Saturday prior to the start of the event at 8:30 a.m.
The races will also serve as the host for the host of the Connecticut State Championships through the Games partnership with USA Cycling and will feature 11 different divisions throughout the day: junior boys and girls 9-14, junior boys and girls 15-18, CAT 5, CAT 4, womenâ€™s CAT 4-5, Masters 45-plus, Masters 60-plus, womenâ€™s 45-plus, CAT 3, womenâ€™s CAT 3, elite women (CAT 1-2-3) and elite men (CAT 1-2-3).
â€śIâ€™m excited about our forecast for the weekend,â€ť Fisher said. â€śFor the cycling event, when you donâ€™t have good weather, participation is down.â€ť
As a result of the different races, the walking course at Walnut Hill Park will be closed for the duration of the event from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
â€śWeâ€™re going to have marshals around the different entrances to make sure and ask people who go to the park to walk on the grass,â€ť Fisher said. â€śWeâ€™re also going to have USA cycling motorcycle officials leading and trailing the races.â€ť
The archery tournament will also take place on Saturday.
The event will be held at Hungerford Park and will consist of five different age groups - yeoman (up to nine years old), Bowmen (12), Cub (14), Junior (20) and Senior (20 and up) - and will be a single-distance tournament. Archery is expected to draw around 70 participants, some of who will be nationally ranked.
Check-in and inspection will be from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. with a 30-minute practice round following immediately afterward and the tournament to begin after that.
For Fisher and his staff, the two events and the Nutmeg Games as a whole wouldnâ€™t be possible without the cooperation of a number of volunteers and the New Britain Parks and Recreation department.
â€śThe parks and rec staff in New Britain does such a great job to get the sites ready and to make sure we have successful events,â€ť Fisher said.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com