Inspired by animals

Steamboat woman competing in triathlon to raise funds for local shelter

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— It was nothing but a hound dog.

But the red tick mixed with red bone known as Murphy prompted Diane Gallagher to enter a triathlon to raise money for the local animal shelter.

Gallagher, a 31-year-old Steamboat resident who works at Transnation Title Insurance Co., will compete in the Danskin Women's Triathlon in Denver this August.

Several weeks ago Gallagher strolled into the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter to inquire about borrowing a dog she could take for a walk.

Inside the shelter, Gallagher noticed a red hound dog that was inside one of the cages. A sign above the hound's cage explained the dog's owner abandoned it because it was too playful.

"It didn't hunt or kill anything," Gallagher said.

Murphy is what inspired Gallagher to enter the triathlon to raise money for the animal shelter. The triathlon, which features swimming, bicycling and running, will be held at Cherry Creek State Park.

Gallagher's goal, she said, is to raise $7,500 for the animal shelter through sponsors. She is trying to get about 400 sponsors, she said. So far, she has four sponsors, though it hasn't discouraged her from continuing training.

Gallagher has even taken Murphy with her on a few of her early morning runs, though the dog has since been adopted.

Gallagher, originally from England's Lake District, has a tough daily training routine.

Before going to work every day, she runs nearly four miles starting near the Steamboat Grand and "running the loop where the gondola is" and then along the bike path and back to the health and rec center.

Most days, she will then head immediately into the pool and swim about 50 laps, which is equal to about a mile, she said.

At the triathlon, Gallagher will have to swim a half-mile, run 3.1 miles and bike another 12 miles.

She has yet to practice for the biking portion of the triathlon, she said.

Gallagher says this will be her first-ever triathlon, but she is confident she will be well prepared.

It is the second time in two years she has entered an athletic competition to raise money for a cause.

In 1999, Gallagher swam two miles in the ocean by Miami, Fla., with a group that was doing a swim for AIDS.

On hand, Gallagher said, were several hundred lifeguards patrolling the waters while on jet skis, surfboards and along the beach.

"They pulled out about 45 percent of the people," she said.

Stacy Hayes, animal control officer at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter, said the money Gallagher will raise will go to the Routt County Humane Society, which is an all-volunteer organization.

Funds received by the Humane Society are put into a spay and neuter fund that is set up for the animal shelter.

Hayes said the money raised by Gallagher also will support an injured animal fund for the animal shelter.

The shelter often does not have the money to operate on wounded animals, she said.

"Right now, we have a cat that was bit by a fox and hit by several cars," Hayes said. "We don't have the money to pay for it."

Gallagher's ultimate goal, she said, is to one day open her own animal sanctuary.

"I think more should be done for the animals at the shelter," Gallagher said. "My heart goes out to them because they are locked in cages."

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