Pentathlon's popularity soars

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Today is the final day to register for the 14th annual Steamboat Springs Pentathlon.

The pentathlon, which combines downhill skiing, snowshoe racing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and running will take place Saturday.

Participants can show up at Howelsen Hill starting at 9 a.m. to set up and train for the downhill skiing event. Practice will be cut off at 9:45 a.m., and the mass-start kickoff will be at 10 a.m.

"We have about 250 people registered right now," said Christina Freeman, Parks and Recreational Services sports coordinator.

The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. today.

Freeman wasn't sure whether there would be a last-minute rush, but she wasn't too concerned. In 2004, the event set a new record with 270 athletes.

"I'm not going to be disappointed if we don't set a record this year. Anything over 200 is great," Freeman said. "Sure it would be a lot more exciting to break a record, but either way this is going to be a great event."

The pentathlon is split into two races.

Competitors running the standard course will downhill ski (after running up Howelsen Hill), snowshoe 2.5 miles, cross-country ski four miles, mountain bike 12 miles and run five miles. Athletes can choose to compete by themselves or join one of several team categories including male, female, coed, dynamic duo or youth.

The second option is the short course, in which athletes downhill ski, snowshoe 1.5 miles, cross-country ski 2.25 miles, mountain bike 7.4 miles and take part in a two-mile run. Athletes can enter an adult open or youth team division for the shorter course.

Last year, Thad Reichley was the fastest man on the standard course with a time of 1 hour, 55 minutes and 9 seconds. Julie Hudetz took top honors for the women on the longer course with a time of 2:25:15.

Mike Foote set the pace on the short course with a time of 1:16:35. Lisa Shik led the women with a time of 1:34:25.

Entering the pentathlon costs $42 a person, and athletes can register at the Parks and Recreational Services building, on Howelsen Parkway.

This year, the employees and customers of Starbucks Coffee will do their part to support the event and the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council.

"This is a huge company, but we are a small shop that wants to give back to the community," manager Susan Snyder said.

Starbucks will donate as much as $1,000 this year through the "Make Your Mark" program by offering $10 per hour for every employee and customer who volunteers or takes part in the pentathlon and has signed a list at the store.

The funds will be given to the Nordic Council to help preserve the Nordic heritage of the Steamboat Springs community.

Snyder stressed that "Make Your Mark" participants must register and pay their fees for the pentathlon to get the donation for competing in the pentathlon. Volunteers also must sign the list.

Starbucks also will donate coffee at the event site, and the company will be asking for donations, which will be given to the Nordic Council.

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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