With earlier rain and the threat of more looming, the 15th annual Winfield Criterium bike race took on a bit more significance.
The Saturday races had been squeezed from a two-day into a single-day event, and there were more than $8,000 in prizes on the line at the 1.2-mile course.
The dicey weather also meant riders needed to be doubly diligent in avoiding crashes. "If it does not dry up we can count on added excitement in the races," said Mike Farrell, owner of Prairie Path Cycles and president of the Athletes by Design Cycling Club in Winfield.
The cycling club partners with the Advocates of the Winfield Riverwalk to organize the criterium.
More than 300 cyclists from throughout the Midwest were expected to participate in Saturday's races, which began at noon and were scheduled to end by 7:30 p.m. Races were staged at Oakwood Park on Winfield's north side.
A criterium is a type of race in which riders do multiple laps on a short course.
Winfield's first criterium was held 14 years ago to help attract visitors to the downtown area. Attendance grew to the point that the criterium is now a tradition for the community.