Steamboat Triathlon will be a family affair for one Steamboat Springs family |

Steamboat Triathlon will be a family affair for one Steamboat Springs family

Longmont's Chris Westman competes in the 2015 Steamboat Triathlon at Lake Catamount. More than 300 competitors are expected to take part in the event through the weekend.
Austin Colbert

— For most of the athletes in this weekend’s Steamboat Triathlon, the event will be an individual test against their own physical limitations, but for the Holland family of Steamboat Springs, the event will be more like a family get-together.

“I did this triathlon a couple of years ago as a single,” said John Holland, who lives in Steamboat Springs. “This year the boys wanted to do it — I think they wanted a chance to do it as a team before I get any older.”

Holland, 69, will team up with his sons Danny and Michael to take part in the relay portion of this year’s triathlon event, which will be held Sunday at Lake Catamount. The two boys, who graduated from high school here in 2002 and 2003, still have strong ties to Steamboat but now live and work in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The team is one of three relay teams on the start list that will race on the Olympic course, and one of four total in the event.

“I did the Olympic course a couple of years ago and finished first in my category,” said Holland, who is a member of the Old Town Hot Springs Triathlon Club,. “There were four of us.”

Holland began competing in triathlons because he wanted to do more on his bike. As a former high school swimmer, he said the idea of completing a triathlon was something he just couldn’t pass up, even if it would mean overcoming his weak link, running.

“It was a challenge at first,” Holland admits. “I didn’t even know if I could do all these things at once.”

But then the three-sport triathlon got into his blood, and he’s hooked.

This weekend there will be plenty of top athletes from around the region who are also hooked and will flock to Pleasant Valley for Steamboat’s third triathlon of the summer. Without Limits Productions will host this weekend’s event and they also hosted an event earlier this summer at Steamboat Lake. The Tri the Boat triathlon, which is run by local Heather Golnick, was held in June.

“It’s great to have these events in Steamboat,” Holland said. “With Heather Golnick’s Tri the Boat at Stagecoach, you can do three good triathlons in the valley without sleeping somewhere else overnight.

“Triathlons are becoming a lot more popular everywhere, and for me, the great thing about triathlons is they force me to stay in the pool, they force me to get on the bike and they force me to walk, hike and run a little bit,” Holland added.

Promotor Lance Panigutti said this weekend’s triathlon at Catamount has a lot to offer athletes like Holland.

“I would say it’s one of the prettiest triathlons anywhere,” Panigutti said. “It has a downtown feel because the course takes the athletes to Howelsen Hill, and Lake Catamount is a perfect setting.”

Panigutti, who co-owns Without Limits and directs the race, said about 300 competitors signed up to take on either the Olympic, sprint or aquabike events Sunday. The athletes will leave the starting line at 8 a.m. in one of four waves.

The sprint course begins with a 750-meter win, followed by a 12.4-mile bike ride and a 5K run all centered around the lake. The Olympic course will challenge athletes with slightly longer courses that include a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 24-mile bike and a six-mile run.

Holland warned spectators not to judge the events by the length.

“When they say it’s a sprint course, they really mean it’s a sprint,” Holland said. “In that race, the athletes tend to go all out from the start to the finish. On the Olympic course, there is a chance to pace yourself. The distances may be a little longer, but the challenge comes from how hard each athlete wants to push.”

In addition to the triathlon events, there will also be an aquabike event where competitors compete on the Olympic course in both the 1.5-kilometer swim and 6-mile bike. There is also a very short sprint to the finish.

“This is a special event because it marks the end of the summer and one last hurrah for a lot of these athletes before their kids go back to school,” Panigutti said.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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