Steamboat teacher finishes triathlon with family in mind |

Steamboat teacher finishes triathlon with family in mind

The first wave of swimmers begins the race in a dense fog during the Steamboat Lake Triathlon on Sunday, July 28.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT LAKE — When Marin Shanahan crossed the finish line of the Steamboat Lake Triathlon, the first thing she did was find her family. 

The Steamboat Springs Middle School Spanish teacher had no trouble locating them, as they were proudly cheering her on at the line as she finished the triathlon on Sunday, July 28, on the shores of Steamboat Lake. 

Shanahan was greeted by her parents and her 4-year-old son, Winter. Four years ago, Winter used his four-month-old lungs to cheer on his mom as she completed her first triathlon on the same ground they stood on Sunday. 

“I just have an amazing family,” Shanahan said. “And this little guy, I want to model to him what a healthy, active lifestyle looks like.”

Shanahan, 38, has won her age division at the Steamboat Triathlon at Lake Catamount the past two years. At Steamboat Lake, she took fifth among females 35 to 39, clocking in at one hour, 33 minutes and 39 seconds.

As a fairly-seasoned triathlete, Shanahan has the transition process down to an artform. 

“You already have all your stuff set up in the order you want to do it,” she said. “You immediately take off your wetsuit; I put on baby oil, so it comes off quickly because it’s pretty rubbery. Then I put my shoes on and my helmet on — you cannot go without your — then walk your bike out of transition and go. It’s pretty much the same when you come in. You just switch shoes and that’s it.”

For 39-year-old Melissa Stockwell and 16-year-old Jack O’Neil, the transition process has an additional step, as both are missing their left leg.

“After the swim, Jack and I both have to either have a running leg or crutches coming out of the swim.,” Stockwell said. “We get to (transition one) and we hop with our bike to the start line, and we put our running leg on. We bike with just one leg.”

A competitor uses crutches to exit the water during the Steamboat Lake Triathlon on Sunday, July 28.
Shelby Reardon

Stockwell lost her leg about 15 years ago while in the military overseas in Iraq and completed her first triathlon 10 years ago. 

“Why not?” Stockwell said when asked why she started competing. “Just to prove to myself that I could. I just love the challenge of all three sports.”

O’Neil was born with an underdeveloped leg, and after nine years of trying to save it, his left leg was amputated. A year later, he competed in his first triathlon. 

“Melissa actually got me into the sport,” O’Neil said. “I was a swimmer before, and she came to where I used to live and said she thought I could be a great triathlete and that I’d have a lot of success in the sport. I chose to believe her, and I’m really glad I did.”

The pair finished within seconds of each other on Sunday. Stockwell, who finished in 1:35.52, said O’Neil, who finished in 1:36.37, usually bests her in the first two phases, but she gains ground during the run. The pair have taken on at least 10 triathlons together, Steamboat Lake being the third this season. 

A competitor transitions from his bike to running shoes during the Steamboat Lake Triathlon on Sunday, July 28.
Shelby Reardon

Speeding through all three sports was Eric Kenney, who crossed the finish line first at 1:07.51, five minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.

The 43-year-old  has been competing in triathlons for more than a decade.

“The shorter courses are definitely more skill-oriented. The swim becomes a bigger factor in the time gaps,” he said. “The higher speeds on the bike with the cornering, I generally can put a fair amount of time just there. I coach full time. The thing I try to do with all my athletes is try to make them very complete. It’s not enough to be a really fast runner, so when you can put all three things together fairly well, you end up doing well.” 

Eric Kenney cross the finish line first at the Steamboat Lake Triathlon on Sunday, July 28.
Shelby Reardon

Owner and Race Director Lance Panigutti said the return of the Steamboat Lake Triathlon, heavily encouraged by Kenney, was a success and may bring it or another Steamboat-based triathlon into the mix next year. 

“(Kenney) was one of the reasons. He kept pushing to bring this race back,” Panigutti said. “He always kept it fresh in our minds when we took the two years off.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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