By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – Classic winter sports will once again be celebrated in this year’s third annual Mad Wolf Winter Relay. A race that benefits the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation and their youth ski programs, the Mad Wolf Relay combines Alpine skiing or snowboarding, running, Nordic skiing and fat biking or snowshoeing.

The action begins Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m., at the top of Hangman’s ski run at Big Sky Resort. Racers will run to their skis or boards in a LeMans start, then ski down to meet their running teammate, who will run across the base area and 1.5 miles down to the bottom of Low Dog Road to the team’s Nordic skier.

The Nordic skier will traverse Middle Fork trail to the tunnel, tagging the fat biker or snowshoer, who will pedal or stomp up Creekside and around Kids Loop before crossing the finish line at Lone Mountain Ranch, in front of Horn and Cantle Saloon. Participants may compete in individual or team categories as adult or youth under 16, and costumes are encouraged.

Past years have seen disco dancers, bedazzled movie lovers, and many other costumed characters speed through the course. Last year’s top finishers completed the race in 31 minutes and 34 seconds.

For this year’s event, BSSEF expects more than 100 racers on over 20 teams to participate. Following the race, a live band will kickoff the evening with an after-party at Horn and Cantle Saloon.

“The Mad Wolf Winter Relay joins many people together on many levels around our community,” said Denise Wade, who oversees BSSEF’s Nordic program and helps organize the event. “The importance of having world-class lifetime sports opportunities and amazing trails is what makes Big Sky so special.”

Mad Wolf is a rekindling of a popular local race from the ’70s and ’80s that enjoyed a solid 10 years of competition.

According to Wade, during the ’80s, the race was simply a challenge of who could be the fastest to get from the top of the Mad Wolf ski run to Lone Mountain Ranch. Formerly an individual race, participants could use any equipment and any route, but had to finish with the same gear they started with.

“It was a little crazy with skiers, bikers, runners going everywhere on the mountain and roads to get down the fastest,” Wade said. The revived event is made possible through a partnership with BSSEF, Big Sky Resort and Lone Mountain Ranch.

“Any event that we can be a part of that brings the community together, we’re in full support of,” said Ryan Kunz, general manager of Lone Mountain Ranch. “It’s one of those events that we love to do every year.”

“The Mad Wolf Relay is a great community event for so many reasons,” said Big Sky Resort Public Relations Manager Chelsi Moy. “It brings people together to enjoy the outdoors. It incorporates costumes, good-natured competition and activities that community members love: skiing, running and biking. … I encourage folks to get out to cheer on the participants.”

Registration is available through Feb. 21, at bssef.com/event/2018-mad-wolf.