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.