All-encompassing Steamboat Lake Sprint triathlon back for its 4th running
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Lake Sprint triathlon is back for its fourth running Sunday with few tweaks and all the same North Routt beauty that makes it one of the most coveted short courses on the Colorado circuit.
Race director and co-owner of Without Limits Productions — the sponsor of the yearly race — Lance Panigutti said the course will look the same as it has been in the past, with a half-mile swim leading into a 12.4-mile ride and a 3.5-mile run to the finish, exactly half the distance of the Aug. 17 Steamboat Triathlon. The Front Range-based Without Limits runs that popular triathlon, too.
“To me, it’s one of the best courses we have,” Panigutti said. “I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The first couple years, we really got things dialed in. It’s one of the prettiest venues you can find in a race.”
The swim-bike-run course may look basically identical to the first three years since its inception in 2011, but Panigutti said they are working on making it a complete race, regardless of athletes’ experiences on the tri scene.
The half-mile swim will begin in waves of 40 to 50 athletes, youngest to oldest typically, he said. But this year for the first time, the race is featuring a first-timer wave to launch as the final grouping.
Panigutti said one of the unique things about the Steamboat Lake Sprint other than its scenery is its ability to attract as many beginners as experts, and with the first-timer wave making its inaugural splash, he’s hoping that balance on course will continue.
“We are trying to cater to both sides,” he said. “The competitive athletes and the first-timers, to have a nice intro to the sport. Some races are really elite heavy and really beginner heavy. We said, ‘Why can’t we accommodate both sets of athletes in the same event?’”
And perhaps the slight adjustment will help boost participation. With relay teams included, Panigutti said as of Thursday afternoon, about 280 racers were registered for the race. If that stands — Panigutti estimated about 10 more would register during the weekend — it would be the first time the race has seen a decline in participation in its history.
In 2011, 263 arrived on race day for the first running of the race. The next year, that number grew to 301 and then 323 in 2013. Registration is capped at 350 athletes and has “sold out” its sign-up list each of the past two years.
With the starting gun still a few days away, Panigutti is optimistic about the triathlon’s draw, especially with Front Rangers looking to beat soaring July temperatures.
On Sunday, the high in Denver is predicted to be around the mid-90s, with temperatures lingering in the mid-70s at 8 a.m., when the first wave is set to hit the water at Steamboat Lake.
On the contrary, highs are expected to be around 80 in Clark near Steamboat Lake on Sunday, with race-time temperatures in the high 50s or low 60s.
“We always look forward to this and the August race (Steamboat Triathlon),” Panigutti said. “Really, to just get out of the heat. It’s a great excuse to get one more mid-summer vacation in.”
The race is in need of volunteers to fill out its staff Sunday. Those interested can contact Without Limits through its website, http://www.withoutlimits.com, or email Panigutti directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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