There are few gatherings of endurance athletes and enthusiasts that can rival the Hotter’N Hell Hundred. An annual tradition in Wichita Falls for nearly 40 years, HHH brings riders, runners, and their supporters from nearly all 50 states and seven countries together for four packed days of rides, races, runs and community events. And if these athletic events weren’t enough of a challenge on their own, this all takes place in late August during the height of the Texas summer heat.
The event was started in 1982 by the Wichita Falls Bicycle club as a way to celebrate the city’s Centennial, “100 miles in 100 degree heat to celebrate 100 years, coining the name: Hotter’N Hell Hundred,” as the organization describes it.
The Executive Director of HHH, Ben “Chip” Filer, first got involved with the event in 1988 as a volunteer. “It’s much more than just a ride,” says Chip, “It’s a combination of our endurance ride, USAC Cycling racing, dirt events, a marathon and half-marathon, and our newly added gravel grinders.” The most famous part of the event, the 100-mile endurance ride, draws between 9,500 and 12,000 riders annually, and the other events add to that number substantially. The event also draws pro cyclists and amateur racers alike for its USAC sanctioned criteriums and road races.
First Bank CEO, Chuck White, has been involved in the event since its early days, and as part of the bank’s commitment to our communities, First Bank has been a major sponsor over the years. Chip adds, “If it wasn’t for First Bank, we simply wouldn’t be able to put on the Hotter’n Hell Hundred.” On top of sponsorship, every year many First Bank employees volunteer at HHH, and ride and run in the events.
Over the years, HHH has grown to be not only the largest ‘century’ ride in the country, but also to include a wider and wider array of endurance events. This expansion has come with a focus not just on providing a great event for participants and the Texoma community, but also on promoting cycling and healthy activities for youth in Wichita Falls and beyond. One of the primary reasons for the recent addition of the ‘Gravel Grinder’ event, a ride tailored to a newer trend of hybrid road riding on gravel roads, was to continue to draw new generations of athletes to the event and the sport.
Chip Filer sees a bright future for the Hotter’n Hell Hundred, as the organization continues to expand the off-road portions, works to draw repeat and new participants, and strives to put on a great event for visitors and locals alike.