Tuesday, December 27, 2005

There’s no place like home for holiday gifts

It's that time of year again for holiday parties, giving gifts, making resolutions and setting new goals and challenges. Somewhere in the frenzy, fitness, health and a good dose of the outdoors should not be far from anyone's mind. After all, those are the reasons why we live here.

Once again I have scoured the planet for new and interesting gifts for all of the amazing athletes of Durango and, surprise! I found the best deals are right here .

Some of these products are made and sold in Durango. While many of my picks are made elsewhere in Colorado, all are sold locally.

After cycling lots of miles over the past few years and finding a way to permanently lodge both my seat post into my down tube and my handlebars into my fork, I wish someone would buy me a new 3D road bicycle.

Chris Herting was a partner with Yeti Cycles from its beginning in 1985 until 1991. In 1992, Herting left Yeti and started 3D Racing frames.

"3D stands for dedication, design, development," Herting said. "I am a small, one-person custom frame builder and I design each frame for that customer using information like body dimensions, flexibility and riding style."

Herting builds road, mountain and tandem bikes.

"Pretty much anything with wheels on it," Herting said.

Durango Cyclery is selling jewelry made by up-and-coming cyclist Alicia Rose Pastore. She's making chain link key chains and bicycle earrings while trying to raise money for next year's racing season. The 12-year-old Miller Middle School student has already used this year's proceeds from her business to buy a new racing bike.

"I'm also selling hanging plastic bag holders at Guido's," Pastore said. "I have my own business, called 'Soft As A Rose Cards & Crafts,' where I make homemade bath salts, bath teas, bath bombs, soap, earrings, potpourri, cards and necklaces."

Call Pastore at 385-4571 or e-mail her at pastore@frontier.net

The Cyclery is also selling Xtracycle racks and unique toilet paper dispensers.

"You can put 200 pounds or a kayak on those Xtracycle racks," said owner Russ Zimmermann.

Backcountry Experience and Peanut Cafe have Mountain Boy sleds. Brice Hoskin makes these in his Silverton shop, is selling them through L.L. Bean and is producing 10 times the amount of sleds he did when he first went into business two years ago.

"Everybody in Silverton and Crested Butte puts their groceries on their push sleds, even though they are intended for kids," said Backcountry buyer Becky Rockis.

Brown's Sport Shoe has 180s ear muffs that are fleece-lined and go behind the head instead of over the top.

Your Running Store has Fuel Belts, Blister Shield and multi-colored Pearlizumi Wrapsody Hats.

Maria's Bookshop has several Lance Armstrong selections to fuel your fire this winter. And, there's a new book, Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon by John Brant.

My own fitness goals for 2006 include learning how to ride in a pace line properly and completing the Arizona and Florida Ironmen races without drowning. I'd rather do almost anything else in the world than flail my arms and legs while attempting to swim laps.

Please don't be shy and let me know your fitness goals for 2006. If I get enough responses, they'll fill a future column.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wells brothers win nationals

If you think that biking is only an activity for the sunny, warm days of summer, think again.
Despite nasty weather conditions that included ice, slush, snow and mud, Durango cyclists continued their frequent podium visits at the Liberty Mutual U.S. National Cyclo-cross Championships at Roger Williams Park in Providence, R.I. The three-day weekend events, Dec. 9-11, included 1,400 competitors.

The Wells' brothers, Todd and Troy, each took home national championships, while Fort Lewis College won the collegiate championship. Todd races for GT Hyundai while Troy, a student at Fort Lewis College, races for TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar.

Cyclo-cross, a mix of road and mountain biking, running and leaping over various obstacles with the bike hoisted atop a shoulder, including hay bales and other barriers, has been popular in Europe for several years, but is finally catching on in the United States.

During the cyclo-cross season, which begins in the fall, when road and mountain biking is finishing up, older brother, Todd, 30, had been focusing all of his energies on the national championship.

"It's the only race everyone cares about," explained Wells, as he prepared for the weekend's championship. "The weather is supposed to be snowy, and my brother and I both seem to do well in poor conditions."

Despite crashing and breaking his handlebars early in the men's pro race on Saturday, Todd held on for a 14-second margin of victory over Ryan Trebon.

"Fortunately, you are able to switch bikes in cyclo-cross, and I picked up a new bike on the next lap," Todd said. "It's satisfying to accomplish my goal."

Todd was on his way to Mexico for a little rest and relaxation after another long, but successful, season of professional cycling. Earlier in the day, Todd watched Troy dust (or rather, mud) the competition in the under-23 national championship.

"It was amazing to see my brother win," Todd said.

Troy, 21, pushed hard at the start of the race and then backed off a little after he opened a little gap during the second and third laps.

"The course was covered with ice and snow and I wanted to be conservative," Troy said. "There were also four run-ups (dismounting and running with the bike) during each lap, and I don't like those and would rather just stay on the bike."

With a busy weekend and still in transit back to Durango on Monday, Troy wasn't able to get much studying done for his final exams next week.

"After finals, I'm leaving on Dec. 21 to race in Europe for one and a half months," Troy said. "I'm excited to race, and last year I only got to stay there for two weeks."

The defending national collegiate champion, Fort Lewis was supposed to race on Friday but was forced to wait another day to claim its title again.

"It snowed all morning on Friday, it started raining, and there was a windstorm blowing three inches of snow sideways," said team manager Dave Hagen.

When conditions settled down on Saturday, the Skyhawks won their third consecutive national championship.

Matt Shriver finished second overall in the men's collegiate race.

"Cyclo-cross is usually not canceled but when I went out to do a few laps on Friday, I couldn't feel my fingers or toes, despite wearing booties, hat and lobster gloves," Shriver said. "I am not stoked for a race to be canceled, but the weather was so bad that even the insane racers of New England didn't want to be out there."

Hagen was thrilled with his team's performance.

"The whole team really stepped it up out here - everyone from our first rider down to our last," he said.

Grant Berry, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, finished 37th in the Elite Men's division while teammate Ryan Barthel finished 41st. Shriver, racing for Kona/Easton, added a 47th-place finish in that event.

Other men's finishers in the collegiate races included Adam Snyder (7), Eric Ransom (11), Jon Belcher (21) and Mike Stevens (26).In the women's collegiate race, Tina Dominic (3), Molly Hummel (8), Onawa Pelham (9) and Chantel Shoemaker (15) all had strong showings. In the men's master race, Steve Lamont of the Durango Wheel Club finished 12th.

Sunday's races included the low-key Liberty Cup, but, both Todd Wells (1) and Shriver (16) decided to push the pace.

For complete race results, see cyclocrossnationals.com.

Thweatt, Casey and Flint take national stage

When 369 runners took the starting line at the Foot Locker Midwest Cross Country Girl's Championship 5,000-meter race at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside two days after Thanksgiving, Laura Thweatt and Erin Casey, from Durango, were among the nervous high-schoolers waiting for the starting gun.On the boys side, Steve Flint, from Bayfield, was among 362 runners.

Formerly known as the Kinney Cross Country Championships, the Foot Locker has been providing a national championship for high school runners for 26 years. Notable runners Dathan Ritzenhein (1999-2000) and Melody Fairchild (1989-1990) were national champions for two years.

Thweatt, 16, a junior, finished in 105th place with a time of 19 minutes and 50 seconds.

After previewing the course on the day before the race, Thweatt was a little concerned about the snowy, cold condition, but on race day it was sunny and blustery.
"I had a good season this year, but I would have liked to do better at the state meet," Thweatt said. "Now I'll be running during the winter getting ready for the Simplot Games in Idaho in February."

Thweatt got an early start while running the 800-meter race in seventh and eighth grades at Miller Middle School. "I'd like to continue running in college," Thweatt said. "Running is something I hope I can do all my life."

Casey, 15, a sophomore at Durango High School, finished 123rd in 20:07.
"It was the largest race I've ever been in, and it was a little overwhelming," Casey said. "Laura and I started out together but we lost each other." Only 17 seconds separated Casey and Thweatt at the finish.

Besides a crowded start that extended all the way across an open meadow, Casey also contended with a tough, snowy, slippery course. A skier with Durango Nordic, Casey usually competes in the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, but missed this year's event while resting for the Foot Locker race.

"My Dad (Jim) was probably happy that I didn't race, because I can usually beat him at the shorter distances," Erin said.

Flint, 17, a senior, finished 58th with a time of 16 minutes. "I was a little disappointed," Flint said. "I got boxed in at the start of the race and I never really worked my way up."

Still, it was a great experience for Flint, who was completing a stellar four years of running for Coach Vernon Kimball. Flint's Wolverine boys squad won every event they entered this season except the Durango Invitational.

"Mr. Kimball did a great job," Flint said.

Now that cross-country season is finished, Flint is playing varsity basketball. "I'm a better runner than a basketball player, but I'm having fun," he confessed.

Flint hopes to run someday for a Division I college like BYU, Stanford or Oregon, but that will probably wait for two years while he completes a mission with his church.

For complete race results, see http://www.footlockercc.com./

Marc Witkes has been running, biking and writing in Durango for almost 20 years.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Adaptive Sports brings world closer together

While Durango continues to gaze at the sky for clouds, moisture and anything remotely related to snow, the Adaptive Sports Association (ASA) is busy recruiting and training volunteers for its 23rd season.

In 1983, Dave Spencer, a skier whose leg was amputated due to cancer, co-founded ASA with a vision of developing an organization dedicated to providing outdoor recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. Spencer died in November 1986, but not before ASA was well on its way to becoming one of the best adaptive programs in the nation.

Two weeks ago, ASA held organizational and informational sessions for its winter programs. ASA trains and supervises volunteers who provide skiing and snowboarding instruction and guidance for people with disabilities ranging from visual and hearing impairment to amputation, ALS, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

Griz Kelley, program director with Adaptive Sports for six years, provided an animated overview for 30 new recruits at the Community Recreation Center.

"Yes, volunteers who help someone with a day of skiing earn a free lift ticket," Kelley said. "That may bring you into the program, but it's not what makes you stay. There's so much personal satisfaction in teaching someone to ski or snowboard."

Kelley showed off all of the different toys that an instructor can use to help someone successfully navigate the trails at Durango Mountain Resort. There were harnesses, snow bikes, outrigger poles (crutches with mini-skis on the bottom), mono-ski chairs, board buddies and hula hoops.

"If we can teach people to ski without adaptive equipment, that's great," Kelley said. But if there's something that can lend a hand to a skier with a disability that helps him get down the mountain, Kelley has it in his collection.

"We're a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people's lives and allowing them to take advantage of all that Durango and the San Juan Mountains have to offer," Kelley said.
Liane Jollon is the new executive director of ASA.

"I'm excited to be part of this program which helps bring a community of people together with and without disabilities to pursue outdoor activities," Jollon said. "It's just wonderful that people are willing to give their time and energy to help us out."

While ASA not only provides services for local residents, it also serves school groups, Special Olympians and large groups from around the country.

Gene Larson, an ASA board member, is in charge of the housing program. He finds individuals and families willing to host visitors who come to Durango to ski and snowboard with ASA.

Besides skiing programs in the winter, ASA has also been providing its clients with summer programs including kayaking, fishing, canoeing, rafting, hiking and houseboat programs on Lake Powell.

Claire Ninde, the executive office manager for ASA, met her husband, Gordon, through Adaptive Sports in 1998.

"Gordon was an instructor at ASA and I was a kid's ski school instructor at Purgatory," Ninde said. Gordon is a T-9/10 paraplegic (paralyzed below the waist), skis with a mono-ski and is featured in the video to promote ASA.

He's also hoping to compete in the Mancos Mush dogsled race again this year.

For more information on Adaptive Sports, call 259-0374.

Turkey Trot sees big numbers

Some people ran to burn off a few calories before the traditional Thanksgiving feast, while others ran to see if they could be faster than friends and neighbors. All 450 who participated in the 18th annual Turkey Trot 5-mile and 1-mile races, however, ran to have fun.

Thursday's turnout was the largest for a Durango Thanksgiving Day race. Many families, including the Lloyds and Stovalls, boasted three generations of runners on the starting line.

Tad Elliott, 17, (29 minutes and 59 seconds) from Durango, and Amy Shelley, 26, (32:47) from Cedaredge, repeated as overall men's and women's winners in the 5-mile event. Both took home large pumpkin pies for their efforts.

Starting near the clock tower on the Fort Lewis College campus, the race course was a mixture of trail and road sections before going through the Hillcrest neighborhood, across the dam by the city reservoir and back to campus.

Elliott ran in a small pack in second place for most of the race before passing Daniel Crane (30:53) on the final ascent beside the golf course. Preparing for the upcoming ski season, Elliott was practicing with his teammates in Grand Mesa last week.

"Almost the whole Nordic team was here racing (Thursday), and it was great to see all of my friends," Elliott said. "I was stoked to beat my coach (Jason Cork)."

Ageless (50) Ned Overend, held on to the lead pack for as long as he could before finishing in sixth place.

"When Tad finally decided to go hard, he put 500 yards on everyone else," Overend said.

Shelley, who grew up in Aztec, came close to taking a fall on the trail but another runner reached over and helped her.

"I ran 35 minutes last year, and I wanted to beat that time," Shelley said. "The trail was tough and a little slippery this year."

Many runners were racing the Turkey Trot for their first time.

"I don't know why I haven't done this before," Peggy Munten said. "I'm excited, and I'm trying to train for an upcoming marathon."

Lou Vito, 34, a line captain with the Durango Fire Department, also a first-timer, chased fast 12-year-olds for most of the race.

"But, hey, it felt pretty good beating them at the finish line," Vito said.

Youngster Emily Badgley, dressed up like a turkey in orange pants and a fluffy white top, ran the one-mile event with her parents, Kate and Kevin, and brother, Patrick.

"We plan to run the Turkey Trot every year but this is the first time we made it," Kate said.

Drew Lewis, 12, a student at Miller Middle School, was the first finisher in the 1-mile fun run.

"I was also sick (Thursday)," Lewis said. "The rest of the day I'm going to eat and sleep."

Following the race, the annual gobble-off was held in the FLC Amphitheater. Those runners who let loose a dramatic gobble at the finish line were asked to come back on stage for a repeat performance.

With prizes galore from local merchants, no one went home empty-handed.

Running five miles is never easy, and the temptation to stop is always present, but Gabriella Dugan and her four children probably had it tougher than most as they had to run by their house at the half-way mark in Hillcrest. Husband Tom came out to watch and cheer on the runners, as he does every year.

"There's not too many sporting events in this little neighborhood," Tom said. "It's really nice seeing all of the kids out here having so much fun."

Nick Nichols, who has directed the race for the last four years, was pleased.

"It's a lot of work, but I keep on putting on this event because it's good for the running club (Durango Motorless Transit) and it's good for the community," Nichols said. "All of the proceeds benefit the DMT/FLC cross-country running scholarship."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Colby’s comeback from surgery takes him to first place in Moab

With a first place finish in the solo category at 24 Hours of Moab three weeks ago, Anthony Colby is a long ways from recovering from brain surgery at Children's Hospital in Boston in 2000.

Colby, left, digs in on a corner near Moab on Oct. 15. He won the 24-hour individual race.Moab is a challenging race where participants push their bodies to the limits and then pray for one more lap. After he circled all the sand, dirt and slickrock he could take for 18 laps, Colby finished with 270 miles, climbed, and descended a total of 24,480 feet.

Colby grew up in Dedham, near Boston, and rode his bike everywhere. One-hundred mile training rides on Route 114 through Worcester, Ayer, Fitchburg and Groton would bring him halfway across the state of Massachusetts.

In 1999, Colby took his bicycle, books and Puritan work ethic to Fort Lewis College. Colby rode five years for the Skyhawks, had great race results including national championships in cross country and short track, and graduated in the spring of 2004 with a degree in exercise science. Typical, except that Colby took a year off from FLC in 2000 to correct a problem that resulted from a ski accident when he was only 10 years old.

"I got a concussion and that caused some brain tissue scarring," Colby said. "A year later, that developed into epilepsy with full-blown seizures."

When you're 10 years old, the doctors might not be willing to tell a young man the whole story but they probably knew that Colby would someday need risky surgery.

"It's not a good idea to get it done and miss a year of school when you're that young," Colby said. "It would have been pretty detrimental to my development."

After being monitored for one month at Children's in 2000 while the doctors tried to figure out the area of Colby's brain that was overactive and causing the seizures, he finally had the surgery.

"It's just part of my life and I really never had any pain or discomfort," Colby said. "I had some odd moments but it wasn't a bad card to be dealt."

After surgery, Colby lost a lot of weight, was sedentary for a couple of months and had a fitness level of about zero. Time away from school and friends helped Colby redefine his goals and reflect on what he wanted from life.

"I wanted success on the bike," Colby said.

Colby returned to school with more passion, perseverance and dedication.

"He's an unbelievable athlete and super hard-working," said Rick Crawford, FLC cycling coach."

After graduation, Colby won the Green Mountain Stage race and finished second behind Tyler Hamilton at the Mount. Washington Hill Climb. He signed on to ride professionally with Target Training, an elite team sponsored by a coaching firm out of Westport, Conn.

Next year's team schedule isn't finalized yet but Colby is already thinking about Tour de Nez, Redlands, San Dimas and the Tour of California.

"Someday I'd like to ride in a Grand Tour like the Giro, Vuelta or France and finish," Colby said.

With Tom Danielson, another FLC alumni, and his eighth place finish overall at this year's Vuelta, Colby is inspired and ready to bring his cycling to an even higher level.

"There's a lot of bike in my life and it has been a long year of training and racing," Colby said.

For the moment, Colby is thinking about where he has been, where he is going and doing some long rides in the Four Corners just for fun. Maybe enjoying a Steamworks pint night or an occasional burger night, too.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Durango’s 'Ironpeople' race in Hawaii

There are many Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run) events in the United States and around the world, but there's only one lava-lined course on the big island of Hawaii.

In order to race in Kailua-Kona, you have to qualify by placing in the top of your age bracket at another Ironman event. In 2005, more than 40,000 athletes competed for 1,800 coveted spots in Hawaii. Those who race there are the "best of the best."

Two weeks ago, area residents Brett Sublett and Cathy Tibbetts raced in Hawaii.

Sublett, 39, who lives in Durango, earned a spot by placing 4th overall and first in his age bracket at the Buffalo Springs Half-Ironman in June.

Tibbetts, 51, who shares her time between Durango and Farmington, won her age bracket at an Arizona event in April.

Sublette was racing in Hawaii for his fourth time while Tibbetts made her first trip.

"The swim and the bike portion went well for me this year, but I fell apart on the run," Sublett said. "Five miles into the run, I knew I just didn't have it and was having a bad day."

After walking most of the second half of the marathon, Sublett struggled to finish in ten hours, 29 minutes and 16 seconds, placing 132nd out of 256 in his age bracket.

"My run is usually the strong part of my race, but it just failed me this time," Sublett said. "It wasn't a real hot day and I really don't have any excuses, but I guess I still haven't quite figured out this race nutritionally."

Before arriving in Hawaii, Tibbetts was concerned about swimming in the ocean swells of Kailua Bay without a wetsuit - these aren't allowed in Hawaii but are allowed in other events - but after exiting the water in one hour and 24 minutes, she realized that her fears were unfounded.

"When I got on the bike, I ate a bagel and cream cheese, and I stashed some chips for some salt later on. That seemed to work out real well," Tibbetts said.

Coming from a strong ultrarunning background, Tibbetts fared well on the marathon portion of the race and only walked an initial steep climb and through the aid stations.

"I don't think anyone in my age bracket passed me during the run," Tibbetts said. "But all of the women here were just in unbelievable shape. I saw so many women with great figures and I thought it would be nice to be 20 or 30 again, but then I found out that those women were in my age bracket or even older than me."

Tibbetts finished the race in 12:19.39 and placed 12th out of 39 in her age bracket.

After the race, Sublett spent several days in Hawaii with his girlfriend and did some snorkeling and surfing.

"We had a lot of fun, but I did take a wipeout while surfing south of town," Sublett said. "I still have a lot to learn about this race, and I want to come back again and give it another shot."

Sublett is also making plans to race in the Badwater 146 race next year and ride in a Race Across America qualifier.

Tibbetts stayed in Hawaii after the race, enjoyed sea kayaking and hiked the lava fields at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

"I also got a temporary Ironman tattoo on my stomach and that was pretty cool," said Tibbetts, who is already signed up for three more Ironman races next year inds Arizona, Coeur d'Alene and Lake Placid.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Women of the Durango Double trained together

Training for running in a long event such as a marathon can be a daunting, lonely experience.

But a few women have been getting together once a week in Durango to make their experience a little easier.

Marjorie Brinton, 50, has been organizing long weekend runs for about a year, but somewhere along the way the runs turned into women’s group outings.

“The guys tended to be in a hurry, so they would run ahead,” Brinton said. “Maybe it’s the nurturing side of women that makes us wait and look out for each other, but no one seems to mind stopping and waiting.”

Gail Harriss, a Durango attorney, trained by herself for the Canyonlands Half-Marathon and Tri-the-Rim Triathlon, but recently she has found some other people to run with and that’s made things more enjoyable.

“There is really tremendous support in the running community,” Harriss said. “I certainly feel encouraged, and it does not seem to matter that I am one of the slower ones.”

Robin Halloran, 32, special education teacher at Durango High School, has enjoyed meeting new runners.

“The thought of running with a group can be very intimidating, but the experience was far from it,” Halloran said. “I’m having more fun than ever having women to run with to prepare for racing.”

Lisa Ford spends summers in Durango and winters in Tucson. After taking off 10 years from running due to back pain, Ford has had a little difficulty getting into the running spirit again.

“It is hard to make myself run more than 10 miles alone, and I don’t always feel safe on the trails,” Ford said. “Two weekends ago was the first time I ran with a large group of women. The runners I was with knew the exact trail and the group had similar running abilities.”

Besides being a great way to get in some long training miles, the group runs give mothers who work a lot a good way to socialize.

And the women’s group runs have paid good dividends.

Brinton ran the Durango Double last weekend, completing the 25K trail run in 2 hours and 35 minutes. She followed that with a 1:56 in the half-marathon.

“The races went great and I was right where I hoped to be both days,” Brinton said. “I took a little fall on the trail run which was more embarrassing than painful.”

Harriss ran the Durango Marathon in 5:12, just a little slower than last year.

“This year was a tough race, and I walked a lot between miles 16 and 22,” Harriss said. “I’m getting together with my running buddies this week, and I bet the conversation will be about planning our next big event.”

Halloran ran the Chicago Marathon last weekend in 3: 38.48 and qualified for the Boston Marathon in April.

“I am so excited and appreciative of the support I have here,” she said. “Qualifying for Boston has been a lifelong dream.”

As for Ford, she ran the 25K in 2:37.

“This was the longest race I have done in about seven years,” Ford said. “I got a little emotional about being able to finish something like that because there was a time when I could not even walk 2 miles without severe pain.”

Marc Witkes is president of Durango Motorless Transit.
Reach him at 247-3116.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Miller kids find fun on the trail

Sarah Tescher, a busy professional cyclist, teacher, student and homemaker, has been the organizing force behind the mountain bike program at Miller Middle School for four years.

“Durango has some great trails for beginners, and this gives kids other al ternatives to team sports that they can do until graduating high school. Mountain biking is a lifestyle sport that you can do the rest of your life.” On Wednesday, when the bell sounded dismissing school, most of the kids ran off carrying books, laughing, eager to participate in other activities. Around 20 children gathered their bikes, helmets and gloves and waited in front of the school.

When Tescher arrived, she led the kids through a quick safety check. Next, Tescher and Mark Pastore, a Miller teacher who was helping out, directed the children to the parking lot to test their turning ability while weaving in and out of traffic lane hash marks.

Tescher has recruited many friends including pro riders Ned Overend, Frank Mapel and Todd Wells to ride with the kids over the years.

At least one participant demonstrated a pretty good wheelie.

Zoe Tregillus, 12, rode with the program last year and was back for another year.

“I like riding different trails,” Tregillus said. “Spirit Trail was a new one for me last year and it’s hard, but it’s also a lot of fun.” After riding through the parking lot, Tescher and Pastore watched while the children rode down a steep embankment. At the bottom of the hill, Tescher divided the students into smaller groups, according to ability, and prepared them for a trail ride.

Kyle Horn, 13, wore a colorful Junior Wheel Club jersey and rode a Gary Fischer hardtail bike that he built himself with a little help from his dad. Horn rode in eight races this year, which comprised the Mountain States Cup, and was also planning to ride in the scholastic state championship race.

“Kids don’t have to race and they’re not expected to, but this program can possibly take them to next level,” Tescher said.

Ben Kraushaar, 15, and Ian Burnett, 18, are two Miller mountain bike alumni who continue to race.

Kraushaar, a sophomore at Durango High School, finished first in the Junior Expert 16-and under cross-country race at Mammoth NORBA two weeks ago.

“I enjoyed the pros coming to ride with us when I rode at Miller,” Kraushaar said.

Burnett, a freshman at Fort Lewis College, now rides with the Skyhawks.

“The Miller program was a lot of fun, and it wasn’t too serious,” Burnett said.

With Durango Cyclery, Nature’s Oasis, La Plata Development LLC, Casey and Casey LLC and Boure among the program’s many sponsors, kids can purchase bright yellow, blue, black and white Miller Middle School Angel jerseys for only $10.

Tescher also received a grant from the El Puente Foundation in Denver which provides funds for new bikes that at-risk youth can ride for the season and later purchase with points for good grades, good behavior and community service.

FLC student-cyclists Jeremiah Bouchard and Patrick Piche were also on hand to help out last week.

“I want to be a teacher someday and I enjoy seeing the kids,” Bouchard said.

With Miller Middle School introducing kids to mountain biking, preparing them to ride at DHS, Fort Lewis and perhaps in the pro ranks, it would appear that biking will remain a dominant culture in Durango for years to come.

“Look at seventh grader Alicia Rose Pastore, who the won the (2005) Mountain States Cup,” Tescher said. “She’s the next one.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mammoth NORBA a Durango affair

Mammoth Mountain, Calif., hosted this weekend's USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in a new winner-take-all format, but if you blinked you might have thought you were in Durango.

Alex Howard, 18, a 2004 Durango High School graduate, drove 15 hours. Ned Overend and Todd Wells flew to Reno and drove to Mammoth together. Joe Burtoni, a Durango Realtor, shipped his bike ahead of time to his godfather in Reno and visited before heading to Mammoth.

When four days of racing, including cross country, downhill/kamikaze, Super D, MtnX, marathon/mini and trials, began on Thursday, around 25 area residents were ready to test their talents against the best of the best.

Overall, 1,582 riders comprised 2,147 race starts.

Burtoni spent a lot of time on rollers during March and raced in NORBA Phoenix.
"I'm excited but not really nervous," said Burtoni, en route to Reno on Wednesday morning. "I'm here because I've trained hard and those other races were stepping stones for this one."

On Thursday, Burtoni, who enlisted help from USA Cycling coach and Hesperus resident Mike Engleman prior to the race, rode a practice lap with Overend, Cale Redpath and Greg Lewis.

"No, we're not racing yet," joked Overend, who responded to his cell phone while warming up on the opening climb. "If I was racing, I'd answer the phone and put you on hold."

Wells and Overend raced cross country on Friday, Super D on Saturday and short track on Sunday.

Shonny Vanlandingham, 36, raced the same three events.

"It's a happy atmosphere here," said Vanlandingham, who makes her home in Durango. "The venue is nice, all the different team and sponsor trucks are here, and I'm a little nervous, but that's good."

Wells and Overend both started slow but passed several competitors towards the end of the cross country race.

"I attacked on the climb during the last lap," said Overend, 50, who estimates he has raced at Mammoth 20 to 25 times. "If there was another lap, I might have fared a little better. But I was happy because I started working toward this goal last year, and I wanted to have a good race when I turned 50."

Overend finished fifth, three bikes behind race runner-up Wells.

Wells, a member of the 2004 Olympic mountain biking team and the 2001 national cyclocross
champion, will be conducting the TWells CX Camp Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in Durango and will be sharing a few of his racing secrets.

Overend has a few secrets of his own.

After a long weekend and a late flight back to Durango, Overend was still able to squeeze in the Half-Valley and Lemon Lake 45-mile ride on Sunday as part of the Boure Bike Fest.
Vanlandingham was leading the women's professional cross country race on Friday, but flatted near the top of the final descent, rode her bike downhill, crashed and carried the bike across the finish line for a dramatic fourth-place finish.

"I was caught 200 meters from the finish line," Vanlandingham said. "It was disappointing, but that's part of racing, and I'll be back next year."

Vanlandingham finished first in Sunday's short track, while Wells added his second runner-up finish in the men's pro division.

With the new one-day format, Overend thinks there will be twice as many participants next year at Mammoth Mountain. But with everyone flying and driving 1,100 miles to Mammoth, wouldn't it be easier if the races were held in Durango?

Monday, September 19, 2005

DMT helps put Roser back on running path

It might be difficult to come home again, but former Durango High standout Emily Roser is back in town, running cross country at Fort Lewis College and picking up where she left off.

Roser ran a spectacular four years at Durango High under coach Ron Keller. She set a school record in the 3,200-meter run before graduating in 2002.

After a one-year injury-plagued stint at the University of Montana, and two years of not running for FLC, Roser missed competing and decided to run this year.

Two weeks ago, Roser ran to a fourth-place overall and second-place finish on her team at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, Ariz. And last weekend she was 20th overall and first for her team at the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque.

For Roser, some things have changed about running in Durango, but others have stayed the same.

“I’m not nervous about the meets, and I don’t stress out anymore,” Roser said. “I’m new to the team this year, but I enjoy telling the girls the great places to run like Hermosa Creek, Horse Gulch and Lime Creek Road.” Last week, while running cemetery hill repeats, Roser remembered running there while in high school. And, of course, the hill is just as steep as it was four years ago.

After running by herself for the past two years, Roser enjoyed pushing the repeats with teammate Jessica Quigley.

Roser is also the first recipient of a Durango Motorless Transit/Fort Lewis College running scholarship. This endowed fund encourages local high school students to continue their running career at FLC rather than taking their talents to an out-of-town college.

DMT pooled funds from the Narrow Gauge, Steamworks Half Marathon and Turkey Trot races to fund the scholarship. Many individuals made additional donations as well.

“It’s great that we have a local group dealing with local students,” said Dave Preszler, FLC athletic director. “There are limited financial resources at the college, and it’s a nice way to help keep talent here.” Ken Flint, FLC cross country coach, is happy to see good community support during the five years of fundraising.

“Besides helping runners, the scholarship is also helping to graduate high-quality students who do well in the classroom,” Flint said. “Emily is an excellent student who maintains close to a 4.0 G.P.A. in exercise science.” Roser is hoping to graduate FLC this spring.

“I love Durango, but probably at some point I should think about going somewhere else after being here my whole life,” Roser said. “I’ll probably go to graduate school somewhere because you can’t do anything with an exercise science degree, and I’m not ready for a real job yet.” Where does running fit in with Roser’s future plans?

“I could see, maybe, running half-marathons,” Roser said.

Whether it’s graduate school or a career in Durango, running 5Ks or marathons, Roser – the daughter of Craig and Katherine Roser – is certain to be successful.

“I’ve never known anybody to work harder through adversity and focus on what she wants,” Katharine said.

Additional donations for the DMT Scholarship Fund can be sent to the FLC Foundation, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Randonneur: BMB long ride was an ordeal

Two weeks ago, I bicycled in the Boston to Montreal to Boston (BMB) 1200K randonneur (long ride).

The 750-mile BMB is the oldest randonneur in the United States and is based upon the original French event, Paris-Brest-Paris, which began in 1931.

In order to ride in a 1200K event, one must first qualify, by riding a series of shorter brevets of 124, 186, 248 and 372 miles. Robin Favreau, Val Phelps and I completed the brevet series while doing one ride each month in Casa Grande, Ariz. from January to April of this year.

I started packing my bike in its case several days before BMB, and I found my seat post and handlebar stem were frozen in place. I finally squeezed the bike into its case by removing the large chain-ring and seat.

Around 100 cyclists from 23 states and three countries started the ride equipped with lights, generators and gear at 4 a.m.

Heading west from Boston, I hit the 75-mile Bullard Farm checkpoint around 9:30 a.m. and scoffed coffee cake, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and muffins.

Guy Harris, a chemist with Merck, was about my pace; we stayed together for 200 miles.

After skirting New Hampshire, we crossed the Connecticut River Bridge into Brattleboro, Vt. The mountain climbs in Vermont are shorter than the ones in Colorado, but they are steeper. After standing in the pedals in my smallest gear while climbing Middlebury Gap, I was cursing myself for not having a triple chain ring.

Evening accommodations in Middlebury boasted an ice rink with cots. We slept from 11 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. and were on the road again by 4. We made it to Ludlow by 6 a.m.

After riding through Vermont all day, we crossed the Canadian border at Rouses Point, N.Y. at 6:30 p.m., and approached Montreal. The Royal Canadian Legion Hall welcomed us.

I met up with four other cyclists for the evening ride back to Ludlow. Their group leader said that I didn't know how to ride a pace-line, so he put me in back and told me to stay there.

With one of the other cyclists feeling dizzy, we decided to take a nap at a hotel in Ludlow. I left the room for a moment and returned to find my roommate sound asleep while still wearing his reflective vest and ankle bands.

I woke up at 5 a.m. and roused my roomie, but he shrugged me off. His ride was over.

I continued through Vermont, back over Middlebury Gap, and I stopped briefly to see the Robert Frost historical marker. "Miles to go before I sleep" seemed appropriate as I struggled with my sense of time. Was it sun-up, sun-down, dawn or dusk?

Stormy weather hit, and I met up with Tom and Mike, two physicians. They seemed to perversely enjoy shooting up each other's knees with Marcaine, a local anesthetic. After four doses, Mike finally dropped out.

While making another dark, steep climb with Tom, I pulled over to the side of the road, exhausted. Tom gave me electrolytes, a space blanket and wished me luck. After sitting dejected by the road for 15 minutes, I rode on to the Brattleboro checkpoint where I rested for several hours.

It rained all morning for the ride through New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In Barre, my family met me to say hello while I slogged through the final 60 miles. I finished in 83 hours and 16 minutes, some 36 hours behind the ride winner.

I'm still having nightmares about checkpoints, cue sheets and endless miles.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cyclists savor local sponsorship

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is cooking up more than toffee, peanut brittle and Belgian white cocoa these days. The current recipe mix includes one sweet cycling team.

Grant Berry, Trevor Krueger, Frank Mapel, Matt Shriver, Mike Nunez, Mitch Moreman, Ryan Barthel and Ned Overend, sometimes, are touting local sponsors, racing, training hard and enjoying success as Durango's only locally sponsored bicycle squad.

Berry, 29, who works for Zuke's Performance Pet Nutrition, and his good friend, Nunez, 24, were kicking around the idea for a team last year.

"We wanted to showcase Durango, local riders and local sponsors," Berry said.

There were just a few small things missing: other riders, sponsors and a formal plan.

Berry approached Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and they agreed to become the team's first title sponsor.

"RMCF was excited and committed right away, and then other sponsors came on board including Spine Colorado/Durango Orthopedics and Mountain Bike Specialists," Berry said.

Berry was careful in picking his teammates.

"I wanted racers who would bring good results, but I also wanted people who were approachable, friendly and would represent our sponsors well," Berry said.

Nunez, 24, likes having the ability to advertise local businesses and forming closer relationships with sponsors and teammates, but he also loves being part of a team and using different tactics while racing on the roads.

"It's easy to do when you have a large team," Nunez said. "We'll usually work for the strongest rider and send some of our riders to the front, slow the pace and try to tire out other teams so that when it counts our strongest rider can come out on top."

Conservation of energy is all-important.

Krueger, 25, has similar feelings.

"It's amazing that all of the local sponsors are so passionate about riding and racing," Krueger said. "They are so interested and excited, and that helps fuel the motivation of the riders on the team."

RMCF has been busy this year and has already ridden in Vuelta de Bisbee, Tour of the Gila, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Tour de Nez and numerous other events.

Moreman, 25, a Durango High School graduate, finished second at the Iron Horse and the Durango MTB 100. When he's not busy training or racing, Moreman works with his father at Animas Valley Windows.

Shriver, 25, a Fort Lewis College student, has been racing for 11 years and keeps a busy schedule.

"When I'm not riding, I am usually studying, working or resting," said Shriver while he wrenched a bike at Mountain Bike Specialists (MBS).

Overend, seemingly ageless, mostly wears his Specialized Team jersey while racing but occasionally dons the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory duds.

"Specialized doesn't mind because RMCF is one of our grassroots teams and they are using Specialized bikes, helmets and shoes," Overend said.

Last weekend was the Taos Stage Race. Saturday morning was a 70-mile road race, Saturday afternoon was a 9.5-mile uphill time trial and Sunday was a criterium.

Overend, who will celebrate his 50th birthday Saturday, finished in second place, only one point off the winner.

Shriver was fifth. Moreman finished eighth and Krueger, Berry and Barthel all finished tied for 20th.

While in Taos, the team made a last-minute visit to the Taos Rocky Mountain Chocolate location.

"The owner of the store had a tent set up at the criterium," Berry said. "We helped promote some of our other sponsors, talked to a lot of people and just had a real positive experience."

Other sponsors for the team are Spinal Reflex Analysis, Boure Sportswear, Coca-Cola of Durango, Bread, Maxxis tires and DeFeet socks.

Key Jobson and Bryan Merryman are both avid cyclists and work for Rocky Mountain Chocolate.

"Having the team this year has exceeded our expectations," Jobson said. "It's real exciting and satisfying to be involved, and it's cool to see the nice jerseys around town."

Upcoming events for the "chocolate boys," as Jobson likes to say, include the Colorado State Championships, Gore Pass Road Race and the Tucson Bicycle Classic.

Berry is pleased with his team's first-year success.

"It's all about community support, and we love what we are doing," Berry said.

The future of the team?

Seems like the sky's the limit.

"We're a growing program but we wanted to be careful our first year," Berry said.

"Someday we'd love to have juniors and women riding for us."

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Rain, mud take toll on mountain bikers

PURGATORY - With rain, mud, cold and never-ending climbs, it was a trying day for most of the mountain bikers at the Durango MTB 100, 100K (62 miles) and 50K (31 miles) on Saturday at Durango Mountain Resort.

Durango's David Drake pedals into the finish line Saturday to win the 100-mile mountain bike race, the Durango MTB 100, at Durango Mountain Resort. Drake won the event for the second consecutive year.The 100-mile riders were attempting three laps; the 100K riders were doing two laps while the 50K riders were trying for one.

Each lap had an elevation gain of more than 6,000 feet and took riders on singletrack and logging roads around the Lizard Head Wilderness, La Plata Mountains and the Needles Range.

An aid station and checkpoint was located at the Graysill Mine while each lap finished in the base of Purgatory, near Hoody’s Base Camp.

Josh Tostsado, from Boulder, who was riding in the 100-mile event, was the first casualty.

He cracked his bicycle frame just a few miles into the race.

Julie Lindstrom, 38, from Jackson, Wyo., was also planning to race 100 miles. She dropped out after the first lap.

“I had fun out there and it wasn’t a waste of time, but this is a really hard, technical course,” Lindstrom said. “The Leadville 100 mountain bike race was easier than this one.” The casualties continued to accumulate.

Kris Quandt, Lindstrom’s friend who signed up for the 100K, dropped out after one lap.

“It was just a bad race,” Quandt repeated – three times.

Jason Maloney and Tracy Jones, flatlanders from Houston, Texas, signed up for the 100K and sat for 15 minutes while deciding whether or not to try for a second loop.

With a little bit of encouragement from their support crew, Maloney and Jones eventually made it out of the DMR aid station.

Both turned back after 30 minutes.

“We were going to be out here for a while and then it started thundering and lightening,” Maloney said. “We got the better of ourselves, but we just needed some more power in our legs.” Jones had similar feelings.

“Should we be out here doing this?” she asked.

“We were crawling and we had a lot more climbing to do.” It wasn’t all frustration at the weekend’s events.

David Drake, last year’s winner, won the 100-mile event again this year, in nine hours and 56 minutes.

Race director Will Newcomer was offering $500 to the first racer to break nine hours, but with course conditions as they were, no one would go home with the money this year.

Durango’s Mitch Moreman, riding for Health FX, finished second in the 100-miler.

Christy Kopasz, 35, of Telluride wonthe women’s 100-mile race in 12 hours, 30 minutes.

Lydia Hill of Grand Junction won the women’s 50K.

“The flowers are amazing, and I definitely stopped to check them out,” Hill said.

“I didn’t think it would take me this long, but there was 8 inches of mud out there in some places and it was slowing everybody down.” Guillaume Belin, visiting from France, won the men’s 50K in 4:11. Belin’s father, Jean-Paul, also raced the 50K.

Ted Compton, 35, from Durango, won the men’s 100K.

Compton fell while riding the Colorado Trail on the first lap, but he said the hardest part of the course was riding up Bolam Pass.

“It just kept on getting steeper and steeper, but there’s no excuse not to ride it,” Compton said. “I’m pretty familiar with this race, I’ve been on all parts of the course and I just wanted see if I could handle it or not.” Compton did, but, just barely, by his own admission.

Kelli Jennings won the women’s 100K in 9: 02.

Besides the competitive types, many riders were just trying to have some fun.

Dolores’ Thomas Miller, 35, rode the 50K on a mountain unicycle and only had one hand plant.

“I got off of the bike a lot, walked and ran, but I didn’t have any major falls,” Miller said.

Tom Sr. waited for his son at the top of the ski area with another unicycle.

“I wanted to have a different bike with a smaller wheel but a fatter tire for better control while descending,” Miller said.

Golden’s Phillip Baker, 43, took a nasty fall midway through the second lap of the 100K and tore up a new pair of $100 bike shorts.

“I’ve got some battle scars and bleeding, but it’s all part of the sport and it builds character,” Baker said. “I appreciate the local folks putting this event on.” Newcomer will be putting on the event again next year.

“Even when people drop out they have a good time, and that’s why we do these races,” Newcomer said.

For complete race results, see www. gravity play.com/MTB100/index2.htm.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Durango 100 draws 400 riders

DURANGO, Colo. - With 10 people riding under four hours for the Durango 100-mile bicycle ride on Sunday; you might think it was part of the Tour de France.

Approximately 400 cyclists started at Santa Rita Park in Durango at 7 a.m. and were treated to a beautiful ride, excellent weather and outstanding hospitality.

Riders followed the newly paved La Posta Road all the way to Bondad. With smooth, new blacktop and winding country roads, it was nearly paradise, with only a short 2.8-mile section of hard-packed, gravel road during the stretch along La Posta.

"Some people didn't like the dirt, but they took it in stride," said Bill Connelly, ride founder who has organized the Durango 100 four times. "Next year, that section will be paved."

After enduring the buzz of automobile traffic on Highway 550 for a few miles, riders veered off onto Aztec Ruins Road. Cyclists were then treated to a road without any traffic, stop signs or noise all the way to Aztec. One, steep 1/4-mile climb caught a few cyclists off guard, but no one complained after being treated to 20-miles of downhill.

Ten miles into Farmington on Highway 516 went by quickly for riders and with many motorists off the road on Sunday morning, there were probably more cyclists.

Some riders turned north in Aztec to cutoff a few miles and turn a century into 84 miles, some riders stopped at the Farmington Sports Complex for a rest stop at an even 50 miles into the race, while most cyclists rode Pinon Hills Boulevard all the way through as they geared up for the finish to the 100-mile course.

Beatle Abshagen, of Durango, opted for the 84-mile loop.

"My son coerced me into riding this," Abshagen said. "He's doing the 100."

Abshagen is fortunate to still be riding a bicycle. After back fusion surgery two years ago, all Abshagen could manage was a tricycle.

"This year I'm back to riding a recumbent bike," he said. "I usually ride my mountain bike more than a road bike."

Many cyclists stopped at the red schoolhouse aid station in Red Mesa, Colo., while making the long climb up La Plata Highway.

Riley McGovern, 13, a student at Tibbetts Junior High in Farmington, stopped to take a breather at the schoolhouse.

"My parents finished in Farmington," McGovern said. "Two years ago, I only did 50 miles, but I'm thinking about going whole way this time."

McGovern also had a friend who was attempting the ride.

Patti Glover, another Farmington resident, was feeling pretty tired and sore at the schoolhouse.

"I'm not sure I'm going to make it," Glover said.

It was Glover's fourth Durango 100.

"The first year of the ride, there were only about 40 riders," Glover said.

She was one of only about five women that year.

After passing Red Mesa, cyclists made a quick detour to the Marvel, Colo., Post Office aid station.

There, Margaret Pacheco hosed people down, filled water bottles and passed out cookies, bananas and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

"This is so much fun," Pacheco said. "This is the second-most meaningful event in Marvel for the year. First is the Groundhog Supper."

After the Marvel Post Office, riders rejoined La Plata Highway before making the final ascent on Wildcat Canyon Road and back into Durango.

Ben Madden, from Albuquerque and developer of www.centuryrides.com, was pleased with his finish.

"Century rides are popular because you get all of the workout and intensity of a race, but there is more camaraderie and team spirit," Madden said. "When I heard about this ride three years ago, I couldn’t believe some of the finishing times, so I had to come and see it for myself."

Connelly was happy for some cooler temperatures.

"If it was 100 degrees like it was last week, we might have been in trouble," Connelly said.

Connelly rode the 100-mile course in an even five hours this year.

All riders were treated to sandwiches and carrot cake at the ride finish.

"Yes, I'll be putting the ride on again next year," Connelly said. "Some folks had cramped legs at the end of this ride, but that's part of riding a century."

The pack of eight riders that crossed the finish line first in a time of 3 hours, 57 minutes were: Durango riders John Seibert, Robby Robinette, Ivan Unkovskoy and Ben Kniller; Sante Fe riders David Schulhofer and Waz Warsa; Mike Dietzman, of Ely, Minn., and Dave Kinsey, of Farmington.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Athletic lifestyle boosts local cancer survivor

Leanne Jordan is many things - an athlete, doctor, wife and mother. She is also a cancer survivor.

Jordan, 45, grew up in North Conway, N.H., an idyllic setting similar to Durango.

She played field hockey, rooted for the Red Sox and prepared for the rigors of attending medical school.

During college, Jordan started rowing competitively. She enjoyed it, and honed her skills enough to join the U.S. national team from 1985-87.

After delaying entering medical school, Jordan lived in Boston, woke up early to row on the Charles River and raced in national competitions including the Pan Am Games.

Jordan graduated from Brown University in 1989. After spending four years in the Air Force to help pay back her medical school loans, Jordan settled in Durango and started her OB/GYN practice.

She has delivered around 500 babies, and says she's just getting started.

"I'd like to deliver their babies too," explained Jordan, while telling her story of cancer survivorship.

In March 2003, while doing a breast self-examination, Jordan noticed a strange lump.

After a mammogram, the doctor recommended ultrasound and gave Jordan an 85 percent chance the growth was benign.

She wasn't taking any chances.

"I didn't want it there, and I got it removed immediately," Jordan said. "When the doctor called after the surgery and asked to come to my office, I was petrified."

The tumor was malignant.

While still training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Jordan began eight weeks of radiation treatment.

She also went back for a second surgery to have her lymph nodes removed to prevent the spread of cancer.

Jordan tried to take the 10-minute daily radiation treatments in stride and kept busy with work, Iron Horse training and parenting when she wasn't exhausted. Her children were scared and confused, so Jordan took them with her one day during treatment.

"Emily, 13, and Kelsey, 10, watched my radiation treatment through a television monitor and talked to me," Jordan said. "Kids imagine things are worse when they can't see it, and after seeing the treatment, they understood."

Jordan's husband remained incredibly understanding and supportive, and her brother from Rhode Island visited in May. Together they rode the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic; it was a major victory.

"Doing sports while going through treatments helped so much," Jordan said. "Biking was great for my stamina and psyche and being an athlete is an advantage."

Jordan is cancer-free today but her experience was a life-changing event.

"The cancer could come back, but I was fortunate that I detected it early," Jordan said.

Keeping active and positive is important for Jordan, who was heading up to Log Chutes for a bike ride right after our Thursday-morning meeting.

She makes it a point to avoid negative situations and negative people.

"I don't want to be encumbered by bad thoughts. There is just so much that I have to be thankful for," she said.

Durango 100 set to ride

DURANGO, Colo. - While the Tour de France is winding down the Champs-Elysees this weekend, area cyclists will have an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy a classic bike ride of their own.

On Sunday, Bill Connelly and Velo de Animas will host the fourth annual Durango 100 Century.

This fun, fast and scenic ride begins at Gateway Park in Durango at 7 a.m., follows the Animas River on the newly-paved La Posta Road, and enters Farmington via Highway 550, Aztec Ruins Road and Highway 516.

Once in Farmington, cyclists will go across town on PiƱon Hills Blvd. before making the ascent back to Durango on CR 170, known as the La Plata Highway. After quick turns into Marvel and Breen and a quick descent on Wildcat Canyon, cyclists will finish where they started at Gateway Park.

Riders will also have the option of riding an 84-mile loop or 50 miles, one-way.

Four years ago Connelly sent an e-mail to a few friends and ended up doing the ride with 50 others.

“It was bare bones,” Connelly said. “I had my wife and daughter help and we didn't have a timer.”

The next year, Connelly decided to make the ride “official” with permits, road sweeping, aid stations, a timer and ride insurance. The event has continued to grow, and Connelly expects 400 riders this year.

“Feedback from riders in past years is excellent and keeps us trying to live up to their high expectations,” Connelly said. “Local governments are very supportive, Marvel is gearing up to be the best rest stop in the world and riders tell me the they feel like professional cyclists when they stop there and the volunteers fill water bottles, hold bikes, peel bananas and hose off riders.”

Drew Bourey, owner of Bourey Sportswear in Durango, has been a sponsor for the ride since its inception.

“I think it’s a fun, community event that is attainable for most cyclists,” Bourey said. “Century rides have a different feel to them than races and cyclists tend to splinter into smaller groups and ride together rather than try to hammer each other.”

With only an elevation gain of 4,091-feet and lots of downhill sections, the Durango 100 is becoming well-known as a fast course. Many cyclists ride personal records.

Bourey thinks that the course is fast for another reason.

“There’s a tailwind in both directions,” Bourey said. “The wind seems to change just as you make the turn in Farmington before heading back to Durango.”

With dramatic scenery that changes from mountain to desert, rest stops and a sag wagon, the Durango 100 promises to be a popular ride again this year.

Organizing the ride, getting all of the special permits and insurance policy can be a daunting task. Proceeds from the ride, if any, will go to the non-profit Velo de Animas Cycling Club of Farmington and help with a variety of programs, including bikes for needy kids. Connelly will also bike the 100 miles.

“I wouldn’t go through all this trouble if I wasn’t going to be able to ride,” Connelly said.

Pre-ride registration is $20 while the race-day fee is $25. All riders will receive a specialized water bottle with a map of the course printed on the side.

For registration or more information, log on to www.durango100.com or call Connelly at (505) 330-7374.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Meltzer makes new tradition

Karl Meltzer, 38, has some new traditions at the Hardrock 100-mile Endurance Run, and they have nothing to do with kissing a massive boulder.

Meltzer, who won the race for his third time, in 28 hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds, ran up and over the Hardrock three times, did a few push-ups and promptly celebrated with a cheeseburger and fries specially prepared by the chef at the Grand Imperial Hotel.

"The early miles in the race were tough but I felt better after 50," Meltzer said. "Virginius (climb) wasn't that bad but the Wasatch Saddle and Grant Swamp were brutal."

In Ouray, at the 57.7-mile mark, Meltzer was only in third place, trailing Nate McDowell and Paul Sweeney, last year's winner. McDowell dropped out of the race at Chapman (82 miles) with "frozen legs" while Sweeney finished second in 30:02.28.

Meltzer, who ran without a pacer, opted to pass the time listening to music by Strangelove, a band from Vermont.

The 2004 Hardrock 100-mile Endurance Run champion, Paul Sweeney, crosses the finish line in Silverton in second place on Saturday. Sweeney's wife, Betsy Nye, the 2003 champion, finished fourth for the women. Karl Metzler, 38, won the men's race in 28 hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds. Sue Johnston won the women's race in 32:07.41.

"I think I listened to the tape about five times," Meltzer said. "I almost felt like doing a little dancing out there."

Even with three wins and course records running the race in both directions, it has not been easy for Meltzer, who has also dropped out of the race twice.

On the women's side, Sue Johnston (32:07.41) outpaced a strong women's field for her second win in three attempts.

Johnston, 39, from Waterford, Vermont, was running near three other women, Betsy Nye, Betsy Kalmeyer and Emily Baer, until Cunningham (9.1 mile mark) before she broke away.

"I never knew how close the other runners were," Johnston said. "Usually I have my husband crewing for me but he wasn't there this time helping me out."

Johnston had a difficult time running between Telluride and Oscar's at 3:15 a.m. on Saturday, but she was comfortable not having pacers with her.

"I tend to get whiny with others around," Johnston said.

Training for Hardrock was not difficult for Johnston; she doesn't follow a specific plan but rather runs how she feels.

"I'm a low mileage runner and I only average 30-40 miles per week," Johnston said.

While Meltzer and Johnston were cruising to victories, many of the other 125 runners who started the race were having their share of difficulties.

Jigger and Paul Staby, five-year veteran volunteers from Durango, were working the aid station at Grouse Gulch (44.1 miles) and it looked like a MASH unit.

"There were runners (lying down) everywhere," Jigger said.

Paul worked the communication side of things.

"We had two runners missing and that kept us up all night," Paul said.

Back at race headquarters, Pete Lewis and Mike Hirshman, from Steamboat Springs, who are part of the medical rescue crew, and Chris Nute, from La Plata County Search and Rescue, were already mobilizing efforts to find the lost runners. Both were found quickly.

Brett Sublett (32:57.48) from Durango worked his way up to third place at one point but eventually dropped to tenth.

"I couldn't keep any food down," Sublett said. "My pacers were practically force feeding me but it wasn't enough."

Sublett wants to come back next year and try the race in the other direction.

"It's almost a shame that it has to get dark out because it's so beautiful out there, and you have to miss some of the views," Sublett said. "I think if I could get this thing figured out a little better, I could work my way up (to a higher finish)."

Emily Baer, 29, (36:11.43) from Silverton was the third women's finisher and twentieth place overall. It was Baer's sixth time at the Hardrock and her fourth finish.

"This was my fastest time by about 45 minutes but it was still one of the harder years," Baer said. "I had a difficult climb out of Ouray and Virginius with all the snow and slippery footing."

Rickey Denesik, former race winner, from Telluride, paced Baer.

"He reminded me to keep breathing, and I started taking longer and deeper breaths," Baer said. "I caught about seven people going up Grants Swamp."

Nye (36:58.25), 41, who finished fourth for the women, had a baby in September and is the wife of Sweeney - last year's men's champion.

"I had my ups and downs but Handies was the toughest part of the race for me," Nye said. "I ate too much food before going over the pass and then my stomach went off."

Brett Gosney, from Durango, who finished Hardrock two years ago, was one of the many casualties at Grouse (44.1 miles).

"I was on a 39-hour pace when I left Sherman (29.2 miles) but I fell apart going up Handies," Gosney said. "I was suffering from fatigue, nausea and a headache. It's just the nature of this type of event."

Gosney took baby steps and gutted it out over Handies but the suffering and dehydration caught up to him, and he dropped out after the descent. After being taken to race headquarters, Gosney was administered two liters of IV fluid to help him recover.

"It was just a bad day for me at Hardrock, but maybe I'll come back next year and try it in the other direction," Gosney said.

Odin Christensen, a six-time Hardrock finisher from Mancos, also dropped out at Grouse.

"My stomach went sour, and I couldn't keep any food down," Christensen said.

Richard Hayes, 54, was the 71st and final race finisher in 47:54.13. He finished six minutes before the 6 a.m. race cutoff on Sunday morning.

"I've done 22 other 100-milers and no question about it, this is the toughest," said the exhausted but happy runner. "I was on all fours on the last climb."

Runners, pacers, crew, families and communications staff were treated to a banquet and awards celebration following the race.

Complete race results and registration information for next year's event is at www.run100s.com/HR/

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Local couple prefers to see Europe by bike

Courtney Barr and Chuck Eppinger returned two weeks ago from their latest bicycle trip in the Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark.

Barr, 78, and Eppinger, 75 - who have been together for 21 years - started taking bicycle vacations in 1990.

When they first met in the 80s, he wasn't riding. Barr, who had already been on bicycling trips to China and the Columbia Icefields in Canada, persuaded Eppinger to get a bike.

"I hadn't ridden since I was a kid," Eppinger said. "We started riding together in Winter Park, Empire and the mountains surrounding Denver."

In 1995, they took their first cycling trip to Europe.

"We went to Holland while they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe)," Eppinger said.

It has been a learning process while traveling abroad.

"We rented bikes the first year," Barr said. "We didn't know any better. Now we always box up our own bikes and bring them with us."

There are always many people around speaking English so language usually isn't a barrier. If they can't understand the menu in a restaurant, they'll point to a dish.
Navigating roads, paths and backcountry roads can be problematic, but Barr and Eppinger are amazed at the kindness of strangers who always seem to appear at just the right time to help point out directions.

With visits in 16 countries including Holland, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France and Italy, some of those strangers have become friends and have visited the couple in the United States in return.

Choosing the right time to travel is a learning process too.

"We usually go in the springtime because the weather is nice and we are able to avoid the crowds," Eppinger said.

"Sometimes we are the first cyclists through for the season and the places give us a glass of champagne to celebrate," Barr said.

Barr and Eppinger ride hybrid bikes which have upright handlebars but are lighter weight than mountain bikes. Hybrids ride well on mixed surfaces.

Many times the trips follow river valleys. It's a little bit easier biking especially when the couple is carrying lots of gear with them.

On the most recent trip, Barr and Eppinger followed the Moldan River near the North Sea and Hamburg.

While traveling through small villages and seeing lush countryside of red and yellow fields of sunflowers and poppy seeds, Barr and Eppinger have enjoyed the sights and the food.

Barr remembers a meal of honey-crusted chicken with almonds and hazelnuts surrounded by cranberries on a bed of greens while staying at the Osted Kro Inn in Denmark.
This lovely inn was built in 1521.

Eppinger enjoyed pannenkoken (Dutch pancakes) while traveling through Holland.

"It's all about the food," Barr said.

When they are riding in Durango, a couple of their favorite rides also revolve around good meals.

"We like riding to the Aspen Cafe near the Needles Store on Highway 550, and the Kennebec Cafe on Highway 160," Barr said.

While Barr and Eppinger have also bicycled in New England and Canada, their European trips have been especially enjoyable.

"The towns are close together, there is good signage and everybody rides in Europe," Eppinger said.

While still putting the finishing touches on the photo album from this year's trip, the couple hasn't discussed next year's itinerary. But they are certain that they'll be traveling somewhere.

"I love waking up to a new day whether it is sunshine or rain, enjoying the countryside and smelling the flowers while on a bicycle," Barr said.

Hardrockers test limits of blisters

It's going to be ugly this year at the Hardrock 100-Mile Endurance Run.

As if running, hiking and crawling 100 miles in the mountains around Silverton, Lake City, Ouray, Telluride and back to Silverton is ever a walk in the park, this year Hardrock veterans and wannabes will face heavy avalanche debris throughout the course, copious amounts of snow and fast-moving creek and river crossings.

The race course, arguably one of the world's most difficult, boasts an elevation gain of 33,000-feet, average elevation of 11,186 and a high point at Handies Peak of 14,048-feet.

Dale Garland, race director and mayor of Durango, was so concerned last week that he was considering rerouting the course to avoid the high water.

"The runners' safety is the bottom line, and if I've got to make last-minute changes, that's what we'll do," Garland said. "We'll have ropes across the most difficult sections."

The water levels have subsided a little bit and major course changes will not have to take place but that doesn't mean there aren't any problems.

"We eliminated the Uncompaghre River crossing outside of Ouray," Garland said. "Instead we'll use a bridge below the dam that was built by a Ouray trail crew.

On Thursday morning, race participant and Durango local Brett Gosney was helping Hardrock board member John Cappis and race medical supervisor Leo Lloyd reroute a particularly dangerous creek crossing below Ice Lakes outside of Silverton.

Gosney, who completed the Hardrock in 39 hours and 9 minutes two years ago will be going for his second finish this year when the race begins at 6 a.m. today.

"I expect to have wet feet the entire race," Gosney said. "But my support crew will have a large medical kit with them, and we'll be ready for blister management."

Gosney, 46, an administrator at the Animas Surgical Hospital, was able to get in some good training this spring although it was difficult to get to the highest elevations due to the snow coverage.

Emily Baer, 29, a Silverton resident, was busy making last-minute drop bag preparations on Thursday afternoon. Baer has finished Hardock three times in four attempts.

"There're going to be tough conditions this year, but I'm looking forward to it," Baer said. "My training has been good, and I've been racing a lot."

It's not the last supper, but Baer was preparing a dinner of mashed potatoes, broccoli, bread and Tira Misu to help get her through the race.

The race winner will finish in Silverton and kiss the "Hardrock" around noon on Saturday.

The Hardrock is a large boulder that is moved to the finish line every year using a bulldozer.

Racers will continue to finish throughout Saturday night and the race course will close at 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Other local race participants include Durangoans Brett Sublett and Rick Pearcy.

This is Sublett's first Hardrock attempt. He will be paced and supported by local runners Nick Nichols and Vic Rudolph.

"I'm kind of excited," Sublett said. "I've done all of my other 100-milers alone, and I've never had any kind of company.

It has been a busy two months for Sublett. Three weeks ago he qualified for the Hawaii Ironman in October with an age-group win at Buffalo Springs Half-Ironman in Texas.

Pearcy and his family moved from Colorado Springs to Durango last month.

Weather at the Hardrock shouldn't pose any problems this year. Temperatures at the race start should be in the 40s and there isn't any rain in the forecast. Daytime temperature is expected to be in the high 70s.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Trail runs open to newcomers, oldtimers alike

Take seven men, five women and five dogs, put them together on a Thursday night, show them a rocky trail on a gnarly mountain on the north end of town, and what do you think will happen?

In the "World According to Nick," of course, they will probably run to the top.
Nick Nichols has been organizing weekly group trail runs for four years.

"I want to emphasize that these runs are for everybody," Nichols explained. "Doesn't matter if you are a walker or runner, fast or slow."

The time is always 6 p.m. but the trail location changes every week. Animas City Mountain was last week's flavor but other runs have included Haflin Creek, Telegraph, Chapman Hill, Colorado Trail, Dry Fork and Smelter Mountain.

Animas, however, remains a favorite for many.

"It's the most bang for your buck in Durango," Nichols said. "It's close to town and it's real simple (to find your way). Just run up and run down."

Animas City Mountain trailhead is located two blocks north of 32nd Street and West Fourth Avenue. A round-trip will take most runners about one hour. There is no water along the trail and you might consider bringing along a hand-held bottle.

Irene Rooney, 48, enjoyed her first trail run last week. She's only been in town for three months but after visiting a local running store, she saw information about the Durango Motorless Transit running club.

"I picked up an application and I figured running a trail with the group would be a good way to check it out," Rooney said. "I have never run trails before."

Gordon Rhodes, a remodeling contractor, runs twice a week.

"I usually go once on my own and once with the group on Thursdays," Rhodes said. "It's different running with a group because I tend to push myself harder."

Besides the camaraderie of running with a group, there still remain competitive types.
Hawaii Ironman veteran Brett Sublett is preparing for the Hard Rock 100, July 8-10, in Silverton. Last week, Sublett was the first runner to reach the spectacular northwest Animas overlook.

"I threw down the gauntlet while running uphill," Sublett explained. "The runner just behind me was suffering."

While all of the runners regrouped on top, took in the views and paused for some conversation, it wasn't long before they all zipped downhill.

Be careful. Don't trip over that rock. Stay light on your feet. This trail is steep.

Animas City Mountain is also the site of the annual Mug Run near the end of October. Rick Callies, who works for Durango Parks and Recreation, has been the race director for three years.

Mike Sulkosky had a big smile on his face during last week's run.

"Animas is kind of tough, but it's a good place to work on downhill running," Sulkowsky said. "It's always fun and it's a great way to enjoy friends."

A group trail run would not be complete without good food and drink. Most runners only punish themselves so they can enjoy unlimited caloric options.

This run ended at the new, nearby Zia Taqueria.

For a complete trail run schedule, see www.go-dmt.org.

See you there.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Going for the gusto

The festive holidays are over and you've long since finished the eggnog and leftover fruitcake. Time to get serious about fitness again, take the leap and complete an Ironman distance race this year. The task of finishing a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile run can be intimidating for the most seasoned athletes. But it doesn't have to be.

There are many considerations while trying to figure out a good strategy of race preparation for an Ironman-distance race. What kind of shape are you in today? I will assume that you’re already riding, running and swimming at least once a week. Do you have a minimum of 12 hours per week during which to work out? Do you have understanding family and friends who won't mind when you spend all of your time training?

Enter a race and give yourself at least three months to prepare. Ironman entries are in high demand, but if you pay attention to the race calendar and figure out when registration opens up for each event, you'll be ready to sign up. Before sending in that registration fee, though, pay attention to the course layout. If you’re not a strong swimmer, don't sign up for a race that has an ocean swim. Some courses are "criterium style" and you might be intimidated by laps on the bicycle and run portions.

Other things to consider before signing on the dotted line are what is the race’s refund policy in case you get injured and aren’t able to make it to the start line. Race fees can run around $450. First-time Ironmen should consider entering a race where they can drive rather than fly. Packing and shipping a bicycle is one pressure that you don't need during your first Ironman.

Gather an equipment list and make sure that your budget will allow for a wetsuit, an upgraded bicycle, if necessary, several swimsuits, running shoes and workout clothing. Flippers, pull buoys and a watch with a lap timer are also helpful for training. Do you have good access to a swimming pool? It might be difficult to train for a spring Ironman in the middle of winter unless you enjoy running endless miles on a treadmill and watching Tour de France videos while logging in miles on your indoor trainer.

Many would-be Ironmen come from a strong background in one sport and only need to polish their skills in the other two disciplines and build some endurance. Cathy Tibbetts, Durango resident and Montrail ultrarunner, has been running and racing for 20 years.

"I already swam and biked a little but when I decided to try my first Ironman in Arizona this spring, I just made a commitment to add in more miles in those areas," Tibbetts says. "I joined a Master's swim program, took my turbo trainer out of the closet and started riding as many centuries as I could fit in on the weekends."

Not all would-be Ironmen have much experience in triathlons or in one area, though. Gabe Wheeler is a manager at a landscape company in Thornton. Wheeler chose Ironman Arizona as his first triathlon.

"To tell the truth, I never really gave much thought to doing a shorter distance race," Wheeler says. "My first exposure to triathlon was the media coverage that Hawaii receives so I have always associated 'triathlon' with Ironman. When I committed to doing a triathlon, I committed to doing an Ironman because that was the obvious thing to do."

Finding the time to train for an Ironman was the most difficult thing for Karen Rudolph, who did her first Ironman in California in 2002.

"It was a lot of time away from my husband," Rudolph recalls. "But if you are committed and dedicated to your training schedule, you can train your body to do anything."

Sander Rigney, product manager for RockShox, from Colorado Springs, is racing his first Ironman in Arizona this spring. Rigney also found it difficult making time for training.

"A large percentage of my travel involves testing bicycle products and while I was in Spain, I did a two-week ride camp, riding each day with various European bicycle manufacturers," Rigney says. "That gets one sport out of the way, so I just have to squeeze in a little running or swimming before or after work."

Spend a little extra time on your weakest event but don't get too bogged down by this. The bicycle is the most important part of the Ironman because you'll be at that the longest. You don't need to set any world records during the swim. It's a warm-up for the rest of the day and you only need to complete the swim without drowning and within the cut-off time. Everybody is tired during the run portion and unless you’re a top competitor, get used to taking frequent walking breaks. Running is important but it’s also the discipline where you’re most likely to get injured while training. Better to get to the start line healthy rather than suffering a running injury.

Treat yourself to occasional races during your training weeks. You may want to complete an international distance (1-mile swim, 25-mile bike and 6.2-mile run) or a road race. Training is the hard part and racing is fun so enjoy these events.

Don’t forget to incorporate brick workouts, one discipline right after the other, especially biking and running. The cement-feeling legs go away after you run for a mile or two.

Find a training partner if you can. This is helpful for the run days when it’s raining outside or mornings when you’re tired and would prefer to sleep in rather than going to a pool for endless laps. You’re more likely to complete a tough workout if you have a friend to share it with. Master's swim programs are available in most cities. Join a running club so that you’ll have some company, especially for the long runs. Club rides are beneficial but can also be intimidating if you’re not used to riding in a tight pack.

Make training fun. Do a two-day self-supported bicycle tour by picking a destination 60 miles from your home. Ride there Saturday, get an inexpensive hotel and ride back Sunday. This only requires half the thought process of two long workouts. Once you've biked the first day, you don't have much choice but to go back on the second day.

Take a break from pounding the pavement on your runs and drive to a scenic destination for a soft, forgiving trail run. Most people don't have access to open water on a regular basis but for a treat, take a vacation to a beach or lake and practice some open-water swimming. It's not difficult but you’ll need to practice lifting your head out of the water so you can sight the course. If you’ll be wearing a wetsuit during the Ironman, get accustomed to wearing it. Many people chafe and it’s important to figure out where you need to put lubricant.

Don't be afraid to schedule a day off. You can take up to one day off per week and still fit in your training. If you’re a compulsive Type A personality and you can't stand the thought of taking a day off, do yourself a favor and mix things up a little. Play pick-up basketball for a workout, hit some tennis balls with your favorite partner or pull a rowing ergometer.

On race-day, have fun, regardless of the outcome.

Katie Baker, National Teams Program Coordinator for Tri-Fed in Colorado Springs, did her first Ironman in Lake Placid in 2001.

"The day before the race my family and I had a nice hike in Adirondacks with a little picnic in the forest to keep my mind off the next day," Baker said. "Race day I had no goals for myself other than to finish and feel good. I had no idea what to expect regarding time."

Baker finished in 12 hours and 3 minutes and, after losing site of her family during the finish, she enjoyed a post-race massage while her family enjoyed pizza. Baker will be racing her fifth Ironman in Arizona.
The cornerstone to any successful Ironman is the necessary training. There are numerous books written on the subject and there are many websites and coaches available to help you devise a program. The following is intended to be a guide.

Many exercise programs are scheduled by time considerations. For example, bike two hours or swim one hour. This may work for some individuals but I prefer to measure my workouts by distance. When I race, I'll need to go a certain "distance" rather than a certain "time" so I think it's better to think in those terms. Get a logbook and make daily entries for all of your workouts. This will hold you accountable.

Gradually build your weekly mileage in all three disciplines so that you’re covering one to one-and-a-half times your race distance over a week's time. Swimming 3.5 miles, cycling 168 miles and running 39.3 miles during your longest training week would be ideal but this may be a difficult goal to reach, especially since biking 168 miles takes most people 8-10 hours to complete.

Practice each discipline two to four times a week. Do a long workout that’s at least half the race distance each week, do an interval session, and do one or two other workouts of middle distance for each discipline. For example, running workouts for the week would include a 13.1-mile run, a track workout consisting of a warm-up, several quarters, halves and three-quarter mile pieces, and one or two runs of between five and eight miles. Complete similar programs for biking and swimming.

If you can, pick three different weeks to do a time trial for each complete race distance. One week, swim 2.4 miles, one-week bike 112 miles and one week run 26.2 miles. These workouts will build significant endurance and confidence.


For a schedule of races trademarked by Ironman USA, visit www.ironmannorthamerica.com. Currently, there are events in Arizona, Canada, Florida, Coeur d'Alene, Lake Placid and Wisconsin. There are other Ironman-distance races in the U.S. but they’re not put on by the same organization. Check out event sites like www.active.com for listings.

There are hundreds of Ironman training programs available online as well as a myriad of training guides. Here are a few places to start.

www.multisports.com — offering online coaching as well as camps.
www.trifuel.com — resource for everything triathlon, including training and gear reviews. www.markallenonline.com — training and coaching by six-time Ironman winner, Mark Allen.

Going Long: Training for Ironman-Distance Triathlons (The Ultrafit Multisport Training Series). Joe Friel and Gordon Byrn. VeloPress.

Start to Finish Ironman Training 24 Weeks to an Endurance Triathlon. Paul Huddle, et al. Meyer & Meyer.

Triathlete Magazine's Complete Triathlon Book: The Training, Diet, Health, Equipment, and Safety Tips You Need to Do Your Best. Matt Fitzgerald. Warner Books.

Starting Out Triathlon: Training for Your First Competition (Ironman Edition). Paul Huddle, et al. Meyer & Meyer.

Be Iron-Fit: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for Ultimate Fitness. Don Fink. The Lyons Press.

Durango-based writer Marc Witkes completed his first Ironman in 31 hours in 1996. It was a "double" (4.8 mi. swim, 226 mi. bike and 52.4 mi. run) in Huntsville, Ala. Marc missed completing the "triple" in Lake Anna State Park, Va. in 2002 by 10 miles on the run. Ironman Arizona will be his first "single."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Rakita smashes record in Narrow Horse swim

Going into Monday's Narrow Horse 1,500-meter swim, the final part of the three-day stage triathlon which included the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic race to Silverton and the Narrow Gauge 10-Mile Run, Branden Rakita and Michael Hagen were tied with an accumulated time of 3 hours, 32 minutes and 2 seconds.

Rakita was 13 seconds slower than Hagen on the bike, but was 13 seconds faster on the run.

Chance occurrence? Maybe.

But Rakita and Hagen were familiar with each other after having competed in the same masters swim program in Colorado Springs near where they both live.

Hagen, 42, pretty much knew what the end result of the triathlon would be.

"Branden swims in a faster lane than I do," Hagen said.

Rakita, 24, a Durango High School graduate, not only swam faster than Hagen but he also swam faster than any other person who has ever competed in the Narrow Horse swim.

Rakita's outstanding time of 18 minutes and 13 seconds was a new meet event record and a personal best.

"I was happy with my time," Rakita said. "All of the training I have been doing really paid off."

That's 20,000 to 35,000 yards per week.

Rakita is training full time in his quest to become a professional triathlete. In two weeks, he'll be competing in the gnarly Escape from Alcatraz, a triathlon with a difficult ocean swim.

"The current in the bay might be a little bit sketchy and the field is so stacked but I'll just do the best that I can do," Rakita said.

On the women's side of the swim (there were no female triathletes this year), Erin Brinton, 19, also a Durango High School graduate, won with a time of 19:52.18. Next year Brinton will be a sophomore at Occidental College in Los Angeles where she is on the swim team.

"My swim wasn't bad today but I've really only had two weeks of good training," Brinton said. "I had a concussion at school, and I wasn't allowed to swim for a month."

Brinton's best time for a 1,500-meter swim is 17:54.

This summer, Brinton will be living with her parents, Scott and Marjorie, the Narrow Horse meet director, swimming on her own to keep in shape and working at the city's recreational program, Gametime.

There were 51 participants in this year's 14th annual event. Ages ranged from 10 (Hattie

Dahlberg, 36:20.46) to 63 (Jean Smith, 32:23.58).

According to Bill Palmer, Durango Masters swim coach, swimming would be good for so many people because it's nonimpact and doesn't beat up their bodies.

"You can pretty much do it forever," Palmer said.

Hannah Chapman (36:20.46), also 10, and a member of the Durango Swim Club, was expecting to swim 30 minutes but didn't quite make it.

Christopher Meyer (26:11.15), 53, did better than he anticipated.

"I missed the swim last year for the first year in quite a while," Meyer said. "I've done it about 13 times, and I just try and swim according to my current fitness level."

Cathy Stevenson (26:43.40), 33, is a dental hygienist, and six months pregnant.

"I usually swim twice a week between 2,000 and 2,500 yards with my friends in the morning," Stevenson said. "I'll swim until I deliver because it's a nonweight-bearing activity, it feels good and I don't feel the extra weight."

Stevenson is also participating in a prenatal yoga class.

All swimmers received sweatshirts created by J.T. of Steamworks.

"They were one of our sponsors," Marjorie Brinton said.

Age-group award winners received fleece blankets while overall male and female winners received red earth pottery plates.

Michael Carter is first over Molas Pass en route to Iron Horse Bicycle Classic victory Posted by Hello

FLC alumni run away with Narrow Gauge 10-Mile titles

Sampson Sage, 23, put a surge on Branden Rakita near 32nd Street and that was all he needed to cruise to a win in the 28th annual Narrow Gauge 10-Mile Run on Sunday morning.

"The hills (North College and Rim Drive) weren't as bad this year because I didn't have a specific time goal," Sage said. "I just relaxed and took it smooth."

Sage, a Fort Lewis College graduate, ran cross country for five years and is now doing an internship with the Center for Southwest Studies.

Brianne Lippoldt, 24, another FLC alumni won the women's 10-mile race.

"I ran by myself the whole way," Lippoldt said. "I was in good shape for the hills, but the flats were pretty tough."

This was Lippoldt's second Narrow Gauge.

"I love this race," Lippoldt said. "I really just love the whole weekend."

David Rakita, 55, continued his streak by finishing the Narrow Gauge run all 28 times.

Rakita has been suffering a foot injury this year and felt fortunate to be able to run.

"I haven't had much training," Rakita said.

"This was more of a race just to finish rather than compete."

Over 28 years, Rakita has only lost 15 minutes from his 1977 time. Bobbie, David's wife, has also been part of the race for most of the 28 years as a volunteer.

"She's always been by my side," David said.

John Weswah won the 5K (3.1 miles) event in 16:51 while Molly Marquez led the women with a 23:20.

A total of 120 people ran the 10-mile event while 80 people ran the 5K.

Keith Baker juggled three balls while running the 10-miler.

"While juggling it's harder running downhill than it is up," Baker said.

"Especially when I drop the balls."

Baker estimates that he is only about one minute per mile slower while juggling.

Lori Elliff, 24, was trying to lower her 5K times since moving into an area with higher elevation.

"I used to run between 19 and 21 minutes, but today I ran 23:40," Elliff said.

A portion of the proceeds from the Narrow Gauge Run will go to the Durango Motorless Transit/FLC Cross Country Scholarship Fund.

With an endowment of $13,000, scholarships will be awarded to local high school seniors who wish to run cross country at Fort Lewis College.

Sunday morning's run was sponsored by Morehart Chevrolet, National King Coal, Steamworks and the Four Corners Heart Clinic.

Complete Narrow Gauge race results are posted at www. go-dmt.org.

Many individuals who completed the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic road race and the Narrow Gauge 10- Mile Run will be swimming today in the Narrow Horse 1,500-meter Swim at the Durango Recreation Center beginning at 9 a.m. today.