Sprint triathlon returns to Steamboat Lake after 2-year hiatus
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After a two-year hiatus, Without Limits is bringing a triathlon back to Steamboat Lake. On Sunday, July 28, 315 athletes will compete in a sprint distance triathlon with aquabike and stand-up paddle board options.
“The reason we put it on hiatus was the sport of triathlon was in a little bit of a recession,” owner and race director Lance Panigutti said. “A lot of people loved the race, but at the same time, Steamboat Lake, it’s not the closest venue. They said they loved it, they did it, but it was a long drive to keep coming back year after year.”
With that, Panigutti and Without Limits sparked renewed interest by holding off on hosting another triathlon at Steamboat Lake.
The plan seemed to work. The event sold out in April after being announced in January.
“It sold out in record time — faster than it sold out back in 2012 and 2013,” Panigutti said.
Without Limits is hosting 15 events, including 10 triathlons, all in Colorado.
Panigutti said the drive to Steamboat Lake is farther than the commute to most of the other events for regular participants, but its location is also a selling point.
“It’s such a gorgeous course. We tell people it’s one of the most remote triathlons you’ll ever do. It’s the furthest you’re ever gonna drive to do a race, but it’s also the most picturesque course you’re ever gonna see,” he said. “The fact that people can camp out right there and make a weekend of it is really the biggest draw.”
For anyone competing or spectating since the hiatus, the course is identical to years past.
Participants will begin waist deep in the shallow and surprisingly-warm waters of Steamboat Lake. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website states the water temperature sits in the low 70s in late summer, so despite the early 8 a.m. start, the lake shouldn’t be too chilly.
Moving clockwise, athletes will swim half a mile before biking 12.4 miles. The course takes cyclists south down Colorado Highway 129 before turning around just before Golden Tide Place. With Hahns Peak looming in the distance, competitors will trade their wheels for sneakers and run 3.5 miles around the state park, finishing at Steamboat Lake Marina.
New this year, though, is a stand-up paddle board option in the swim portion of the race. There is also an aquabike option that allows competitors to alleviate stress to their knees or joints by drastically cutting the running section. Those in the aquabike race will swim and bike the same distance as everyone else, but run just 100 meters to the finish line.
“That actually is a lot more popular with the older crowd,” Panigutti said. “A lot of people have done triathlons for years, and they say, ‘You know what? I just can’t run anymore. My knees are shot, or I don’t like running anymore, but I still love to swim and bike.’”
Looking at the race registration, Panigutti said competitors range in age from 12 to 70.
“Most of the athletes are from the Front Range, and it’s perfect timing because we’re having a heat wave down here,” Panigutti said. “A lot of people are looking to escape the heat and get up in the mountains. About 70% to 80% of the athletes this year are from the Front Range.”
Panigutti also said Without Limits is looking to potentially add a new triathlon in the Steamboat area for the 2020 season.
Without Limits will return to Steamboat on Aug. 11 with sprint and Olympic distance triathlons at Catamount Lake. That event is also sold out and will be bigger than ever, featuring 500 athletes.
“It’s the end of the year, so for people on the Front Range, it’s kind of that last family vacation of the summertime,” Panigutti said.
If interested in signing up for next year’s triathlons, visit withoutlimits.co.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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