Annual pentathlon under way

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— Eating a big steak or enchiladas the night before the 11th annual Steamboat Pentathlon may not be the smartest thing to do, but the key in a good diet for competition is to eat balanced meals all week.

Local pentathlon veteran Bob Dapper says eating a balanced and moderate meal the night before the race is almost after the fact.

"And hydrate all week," Dapper said.

So, for those participants competing in Saturday's pentathlon, you better already be stretched out and full of water with no upset stomachs.

"Keep your muscles lively and active so they don't fall asleep. Don't start a new regimen unless it's supervised," Dapper advised. "The best thing (people) can bring is a good attitude."

Although registration has ended for the nearly 250 people participating in the pentathlon, spectators still are encouraged to come to Vanatta Field at Howelsen Hill to support their friends and family.

The spectator area may change this year because the Pentathlon Organizing Committee heard complaints about an overabundance of spectators getting in the way of participants.

"They're the ones that really care about their time," race director Christina Freeman said of the individuals competing versus the groups. "We want to encourage people to come down and watch but we may not have them at the transition areas anymore."

The Steamboat Pentathlon remains at Howelsen Hill with a short and standard course consisting of five sporting activities representative of Steamboat locals: Alpine skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, mountain biking and running.

Freeman said it isn't an impossibility to begin a summer pentathlon featuring representative Steamboat summer sports, but at this time, nothing has been discussed in detail.

Individuals also can participate in the standard or the short course, depending on their physical ability and endurance level. Only the standard course is available for participating groups.

In the standard course and the short course, individuals are required to run up 400 vertical feet at Howelsen Hill, gather their Alpine ski equipment and ski down to the transition areas. Participants can snowboard, ski or telemark. It is an expert run and participants should expect hard-packed conditions.

Those competing in the first event will take the chairlift up and leave ski equipment at the top of Howelsen between 9 and 9:45 a.m.

After the first of the five activities, individuals in the standard course will snowshoe 2.5 miles the short course is 1.5 miles south from the transition area up Long John following a path through the meadows and proceeding down a winding path back to the transition area.

Cross country skiing is third in line for 4.5 miles in the standard course and 2.25 miles in the short course. Nordic racers will traverse two laps on an intermediate/expert lower mountain course on groomed tracks utilizing the new Bluff's Loop. Skiers may choose classic or skate skiing style.

Freeman said the reason the cross country mileage changed from last year standard was 5 miles and short was 1.6 miles is because of the lack of The Wall.

"It was a steep hill that individuals had to do three times," Freeman said. "We've added new terrain groomed for cross country skiing that's more ideal in this scenario."

Cross country skiers now will find a rolling terrain that accommodates every skiing level. Strong skiers can excel and beginners will not feel quite as intimidated, Freeman said.

Dapper said there are five climbs on the course ranging from 30 yards to 200 yards, with the highest point being on Bluff's Loop.

"They'll funnel down into the arena like at the World Cup," said Dapper, who has done the course alone for the past 11 years. "The standard course will do two full laps and the short course will do one lap."

Second to last on the pentathlon list is mountain biking 12 miles in the standard course or 7.4 miles in the short course. Bikers ride along River Road following the Yampa River for an out-and-back course. The road will remain open to traffic. Helmets are mandatory and drafting is not allowed. Only 26x1.9" or larger size tires are permitted.

Running will remain as the last event of the day with the standard course at 5 miles and the short course at 2 miles. Runners compete along the Yampa River Core Trail for an out-and-back course also.

Freeman said the only negative feedback she heard from last year's race was that no sweets were available for athletes after the competition.

"We felt good about the race. We keep tweaking it and getting it better," Freeman said of subtle changes.

This year, Backcountry Provisions, Mazzola's, the Chart House, Ore House and Creekside Cafill provide lunch at Howelsen Lodge.

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