Story & Photos by Izzy Wallace
Though they started small, the Wednesday Night World Championships (WNWC) have grown exponentially over the years, into the close community they are today.
WNWC is a mountain bike race series that consists of 16 races, which run from April to August.
The races all take place at North SeaTac Park on Wednesday evenings, on an almost weekly basis – with the first beginning at 5 p.m., and final races wrapping up around 8 p.m.
Each race has different age groups and difficulty levels, so that anyone at any point in their biking journey can feel included.
The group was first founded by two brothers in the 80s, through their company, Stiff Wick Productions.
The brothers, who went by “Stiff” and “Wick,” would carry WNWC throughout several decades, until they eventually stepped down.
In 2014, Russell Stevenson took over the races, and went on to get the word out about the group.
“This really was a passion project,” Stevenson said. “I spent most of my life cycling, racing professionally. When I finally hung it up, I just wanted to stay involved in the community, in one way or another.”
Stevenson had been an attendant at WNWC years ago, and saw the series peetering out.
“The series had kind of died away,” he said. “There was three, maybe four years where there was no racing. So I thought, we’ve got to get this back. And we did, we’re really stoked on it.”
And since the series’ resurgence, numbers have increased dramatically.
“In the early 90s, it wasn’t really promoted. You kind of had to know somebody or something about it, there was no website for it,” Stevenson said.
The record for total racers in one night last year, was 268, he said.
This number also doubles on the series’ final night in spectators alone, as the finale is often their biggest event.
“We kind of modernized it, and created a product that was accessible for everybody,” Stevenson said. “It really started exploding, numbers-wise, when we started doing children’s races, it helped get the family involved.”
In addition to bringing the group to more modern times, a group of volunteers within WNWC have helped maintain North SeaTac Park over the years.
“We’re called the Wednesday Night World’s Ambassadors,” David Silver said, one of the lead volunteers. “We build and maintain the trails all year round, … we put in probably around 100 hours at least every year.”
And with the park staying clean and safe, in addition to having races for all ages, many attendees said that family involvement was a big reason why they joined.
“It’s really great for my family, to get to do something that we all enjoy,” said Sarah, an attendee over the last few years. “One night a week, we get to be together, and you also get to see your friends and socialize after the race, it’s always fun.”
For Mindy, a friend of Stevenson’s, getting involved started with her child joining.
“My kid is buddies with his kid. So the kids came out, which means mom should probably step up and go participate too, so here I am.”
Another common theme that attendees said brought them out, was the tight knit community.
“I think the main thing, is the community, the camaraderie of everybody that comes here,” said Matt, a longtime participant.
Having come for so long too, Matt and many others have seen kids grow up through the years of racing together.
“Kids that were here in the kids races 10 years ago, now come out and beat us in the adult races,” he said.
The WNWC was ultimately designed and reignited to bring people from a shared community together, and to do something they love, Stevenson said.
“Racing was a part of my life for forever, and I didn’t want to let that go,” he said. “I’d rather stay engaged in another way, and continue to do something for this community.”
Izzy Wallace is a graduate from Highline College, where she got her AA in Multimedia, and her BAS in Integrated Design. She had previously worked at Highline’s newspaper for several years as Editor-in-Chief. You can send her ideas for news stories, or photos of your dogs, at [email protected].