John F. Russell: It's never too late


Sunny skies and unusually warm weather gave us all a little taste of spring at the end of last week.

But if you're like me, Friday was a chilling reminder that our winter days are slipping away faster than Bode Miller makes his way to the bottom of a super-G course.

Soon, our ski boots and winter coats will give way to flip flops and Bermuda shorts. Just thinking about it makes those of us who think we haven't gotten enough out of our winter sports gear desperate for one last run down Sitz/See Me.

Stop. Take a deep breath and count ... one ... two ... three ...

OK, now that you're relaxed, I assure you that there is plenty of time. Thanks to the Steamboat Springs Pentathlon, even procrastinators can pack a season full of fun into a single day.

On Saturday, athletes can come to Howelsen Hill to downhill ski, snowshoe 2.5 miles, cross-country ski four miles, mountain bike 12 miles and run five miles in the same day.

The top athletes, who will finish the standard course in a little less than two hours, will have plenty of time left to fit in an afternoon swim at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center pool.

I was planning to take part, but I don't think they will let me start the race Tuesday, which is what I need to do to make it to the finish line sometime Saturday.

Instead, I will let some of Steamboat's best-conditioned athletes, and a few who just have a little more determination than me, make the annual trek through the world of winter sports. Not only will they be more interesting to watch, but I also can avoid embarrassing myself -- at least Saturday.

But seriously, you don't have to be one of those elite, multi-sport athletes to compete in Steamboat's pentathlon.

During the years, organizers have created several options for those who don't feel comfortable going all out on the full course.

There is a shorter course with a 1.5-mile snowshoe, a 2.25-mile cross-country ski, a 7.4-mile mountain bike and a two-mile run, and joining a team is also a great way to take part and stay within your physical limits.

It's that type of flexibility, as well as hard work by the organizers and the dedication of many Steamboat athletes, that has revived an event that appeared to be on its way out the door just a few years ago.

Organizers made changes that created a pentathlon that was more appealing to the masses, yet still a challenge to top-level athletes.

"Back in 1999, we were just hoping to get 100 people," said Christina Freeman, sports coordinator for the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreational Services Department. "Last year, we had 270."

If the trend continues, it should be another strong year for an event that proves it's never too late to take advantage of a Steamboat winter before it slips away.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.