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Downtown 1 The City of Walterboro will host the 11th annual Downtown Walterboro Criterium, an international bicycling competition that is part of the USA Crits Speed Week, on Wednesday. This is a free event, and visitors are invited to watch some of the best cyclists in the world race through the streets of downtown Walterboro. The race will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

This event has been growing in popularity each year since the initial race. Last year, the course was lined with those who had come to appreciate the swift-moving cyclists, traveling through our city’s streets at what many would consider break-neck speeds.

The race circuit is in Downtown Walterboro along Washington, Neyle, Walter, and Hampton Streets. There will also be a children’s race between the amateur and professional races, said Criterium Committee member Dewey Griggs.

The Downtown Walterboro Criterium, a professional event, brings Olympians and national champions to town for a night of racing. The free event features children’s races, amateur and master’s races.

The Downtown Walterboro Criterium Schedule is:

Masters 35+ / 45+, 4 p.m.; Category four and five, 4:45 p.m.; Category two and three, 5:20 p.m.; Professional Women (25 laps), 6:15 p.m.; Professional Men (37 laps), 7:15 p.m. The Children’s Races start at 6:15 p.m.

At last year’s Criterium, elaborate food and beverage spreads were laid out on tables in front of some of the businesses located on East Washington Street. Barbecue, coleslaw, potato salad, and banana pudding were amongst the food and beverages served at the VIP Tent. Both the amateur and professional men’s and women’s races were both fast and furious, with cyclists leaning into turns, the sound of bicycle hand-brakes evident in the air. The straight-aways along Washington and Hampton Streets saw bicycle speeds reaching up to 40 miles per hour.

The Criterium is not only good for the area’s image, it is also beneficial to our local economy. “I call this event our Super Bowl of the year,” said Derek Rush, owner of the Main Street Bar and Grille on East Washington Street. “I line 10 tables along the sidewalks on Main Street, and we can seat about 80 people so they are able to enjoy the outside dining while taking in the event. It’s my biggest day of the year.”

Derek added that he is having an after party, which will include live music, for everyone who was involved in the event, both participants and visitors. “This brings people from all over the state, all over the country, and even all over the world. In general, this year has been much better, tourism-wise, than last year at this time,” he noted. Derek added that he thinks that the Downtown Arborscape Project’s completion has contributed to this upswing.

Derek noted that there are several set-in-stone busy days, which he marks on his mental calendar as being good for business. “Valentine’s Day, Christmastime, and New Year’s Eve are close business-wise, but they are not as good as the day of the Criterium.”

For more information about the amateur races, including how to register, go to http://usacrits.com/speedweek/?page_id=17.

Contact Information can be obtained from Jeremy Ware at 843-549-9595, email info@walterboro.org or Donna Laird at 843-538-4353 or 843-909-4325, email dlaird@walterborosc.org.