Ironman is family affair for Steamboat couple |

Ironman is family affair for Steamboat couple

Marietta and Matt Roberts pose with his two children after the Steamboat Springs successfully completed the 2017 Ironman race in Panama City, Florida, Nov. 4.
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs couple fought through injuries and some brutal training weather before  completing the 2017 Ironman triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida.

It was the second time Matt and Marietta Roberts have completed an Ironman, but this time they did it together alongside old friends.

“It meant something,” Marietta said. “I always wanted to do that race.”

Matt did the same race 15 years ago when he and Marietta were living in Florida.

He signed up again in 2012, but the couple decided to move to Steamboat and a busy schedule did not allow Matt to compete.

While living in Florida, the Roberts trained with a close-knit group of 60 triathletes, a larger version of the dedicated club at Old Town Hot Springs in Steamboat, where Marietta works as the fitness director and runs the club.

After completing her first Ironman in Boulder in 2015, Marietta had her mind set on doing the race she had always dreamed of doing in Florida with her old friends.

“I was like, ‘I don’t want to do another one,’” Matt said. “She talked me into it.”

Before dropping $1,600 on entry fees, the couple committed to nine months of regimented training.

“It’s going to be a long year,” Matt recalled.

Matt had other big plans for the summer leading up to the Florida, and he wanted to do the two-day Steamboat Stinger marathon and mountain bike race as well as the Rub Rabbit Run ultramarathon.
Matt ultimately backed out of the 100-mile Run Rabbit Run for fear of an injury that would cripple him for Florida.

With six months of winter, Steamboat does not have an ideal climate for long-distance triathlon training.

With the race on Nov. 4, the couple battled strong winds and cold weather during their long training rides and runs in the fall. Swim workouts were at dawn.

The high-altitude training paid off for the sea-level race, where the 2.4-mile swim was in the Gulf of Mexico.

Matt averaged 21.21 miles on the 112-mile bike course. He finished in 11 hours, 56 minutes, putting him in the top third of the other competitors in the 40-to-44 age group.

“I wanted to break 12 hours, but I thought I could go faster than that,” Matt said.

Both of the Roberts had a strong swim, with Marietta coming in at one hour, 29 minutes,

She suffered some nausea and dizziness during the marathon, and her total race time was 14 hours, 56 minutes, which put her in the middle of the pack for women 45-to-49 years old.

“I am on cloud nine with this race,” Marietta said.

Near the finish, Matt and his two children, who still live in Florida, handed Puerto Rico native Marietta her country’s flag, which she draped around her shoulders while crossing the line.

“Just to represent that Puerto Rico is still a part of the United States,” Marietta said. “They’re still struggling. I’m thinking about them.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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