Steamboat Triathlon attracts challenge-loving athletes in 15th year |

Steamboat Triathlon attracts challenge-loving athletes in 15th year

Allen Cowgill rides in the 2017 Steamboat Triathlon.
Joel Reichenberger

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Triathlon is celebrating its 15th birthday this weekend as 500 athletes take to the waters of Lake Catamount for both a sprint and Olympic distance triathlon Sunday, Aug. 11.

The event, put on by Without Limits since 2012, is the longest running triathlon in Steamboat Springs. But don’t bother bringing a gift, as there won’t be a big celebration.

In fact, the event is giving a gift to newbie or hesitant competitors in the form of a stand-up paddleboard option. The alternative to the swim has been implemented in all of Without Limit’s events this year, including the Steamboat Lake Triathlon on July 28.

“We have added a stand-up paddleboard option for people who are scared of open-water swimming or just have never done it,” volunteer and Sponsorship Director Olympia von Berg said. “It’s just a little more inclusive. It gives people the chance to try out the triathlon thing. That’s new as of this year.”

Since creating Without Limits Productions in 2007, owner and race director Lance Panigutti has made it his mission to create triathlons that are affordable and appealing to athletes of all abilities. 

Offering a sprint and Olympic triathlon at Steamboat, as well as alternatives, lives up to that standard.

The course begins in Lake Catamount on the shores off More Lane, with competitors standing in the lake. Every five minutes, a wave of swimmers will take off, with the fastest going first and the first-timer wave taking off last.

The sprinters will swim half a mile, while the Olympic distance is a 1.5-kilometer swim. From there, athletes will run in one side of the transition area and bike out the other, riding for 12.4 or 24.8 miles, depending on which distance they are doing. 

After entering the transition zone from the same side they rode out of, they’ll run out the other side. Olympic distance competitors will complete a 10K along the south shore of Lake Catamount, with the sprinters running half that distance.

Other options include an aquabike race, which excludes the running portion, and a duathlon, which replaces the swim with a 5K run.

With all the options, the triathlon attracts everyone from beginners to professionals, but they all share one thing: the love of a challenge.

“It’s definitely a lifestyle. It’s not a I-go-running-on-Sundays kind of thing. People who do triathlons have a similar mindset,” von Berg said. “We’re all focused on being healthy, and we love the challenge that a triathlon represents.

“It’s three sports, and you have to train in three sports and you have to put it all together on race day,” von Berg explained. “As a lot of people say, they do one as a bucket list item and then they’re addicted because the community is great. People help each other out, and it’s fun.”

The event, which begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, is sold out, but there are three other Without Limits events with slots remaining this season.

Even those alongside the course and at aid stations are triathletes, as Without Limits encourages competitors to volunteer at other events to earn a discounted registration in the future.

“For every event that we put on, or any event organizer puts on, volunteers are a huge part of it,” von Berg said. “(The discounted entry program) really encourages athletes who do our events year after year or throughout the season to come out and help out. … We often times have people say, ‘Look, I’ve been racing for seven years, I just want to give back. Where can I help out for these three events?’ I think that’s another huge part of why everything else works so well.”

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

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