Steamboat Triathlon adds duathlon category to keep up with endurance industry growth
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Triathlon continues to evolve into an event for a larger variety of endurance athletes.
On Sunday, Aug. 13, athletes will enjoy a new duathlon option for the race, which includes a 5K run near the shores of Lake Catamount, followed by a 24.8-mile bike ride through the Yampa Valley and then a 10K run around Lake Catamount.
“The Steamboat athlete can be a lot of things. One minute they’re mountain biking, then stand-up paddleboarding, running or swimming,” Without Limits Production owner and race director Lance Panigutti said. “But we added the duathlon based on feedback. It’s an opportunity for locals to do the event in their backyard when before they were limited by swimming ability.”
Since its inception in 2004, the Steamboat Triathlon has only added events to make it more accommodating to a broad range of athletes. Just three years ago, the event added both sprint distance and aquabike divisions, with the aquabike eliminating the running portion.
“The endurance scene has changed over the years, and if events don’t change with it, they go out,” Panigutti said. “I’ve been involved since ’96 and have seen so many changes to the sport over that timeframe. Triathlon in the ’90s was an extreme sport, and then it became more mainstream lifestyle. It wasn’t this extreme activity anymore — it was fun to do with family and friends.”
Triathlons are also not as common in ski towns, which tend to be higher in elevation. Since the Steamboat elevation isn’t as extreme, more athletes are able to compete with the added bonus of mountain scenery.
This year, the Steamboat Triathlon sold out its 500 total entries to athletes from 15 different states and all different ages. Some of the youngest triathletes participating in the sprint distance are 12- and 13-years-old.
“The triathlon community pretty much exploded, but the best part about it, what Lance is doing is that he’s really diversified it for people to participate,” Steamboat Triathlon founder Joy Rasmussen said.
Panigutti said the triathlon experiences its ups and downs like many endurance races.
“For three to four years, you saw an explosion of different types of events — obstacle races, colors runs — and now, a lot of those events have gone away,” Panigutti said. “And the true sports of triathlon — running and cycling — stood the test of time and people are gravitating toward those activities.”
Panigutti said the Steamboat Triathlon’s growth has been primarily through word of mouth. The Steamboat Triathlon attracts a large number of participants from the Front Range who are looking for an easy weekend getaway for competition. Visitors stay longer, explore the town and go home to their states, telling their friends about the experience.
Panigutti said Utah, Texas and Florida contain some of the bigger triathlon communities. But with the addition of the duathlon, Panigutti expects the sport to continue to increase its popularity on the local level.
“People are able to take advantage of their strengths, which makes for a bigger community,” Panigutti said.
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