Triathlon comes to Steamboat

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— Don't blame Longmont's Craig Howie for being an optimist when it comes to triathlons.

The 30-year-old, who was the overall winner of the Steamboat Triathlon on Sunday with a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes and 9 seconds, has some lofty goals when it comes to triathlons - mainly to become a world champion.

"Clear down the line, my dream goal is to win Ironman Hawaii," Howie said, noting triathletes' best years tend to be in their late 30s. "We're going this year, and this will be my third time going. I'm hoping I can have my best effort."

Howie, who finished third in an Ironman triathlon in Utah earlier in the year, knows he's just starting to enter his prime.

If Sunday's race was any indication, Howie can count on a superb effort in the Oct. 13 event in Kona, Hawaii.

While Howie struggled briefly with the three-quarter-mile swim, once he hit the bike, he started to make up time - and make it up quick.

By the time he got to the turnaround at Howelsen Hill and the uphill part of the course, Howie was alone and pushing himself.

"It was fantastic," said Howie, who recovered from a crash on his bike when his foot got stuck in the pedal on the second transition. "I swam slower than I had hoped for, but I red-lined the bike."

Howie, who runs the Howie Endurance Project in Boulder, where he coaches 30 athletes in conjunction with the Boulder Medical Center for Sports Medicine, said he enjoyed the race for its ability to serve as a tool for his ultimate goal.

"I treat this as a great effort," said Howie, who finished in less than 10 hours last year in Hawaii, good enough for a top-200 finish. "My goal is to be in the top 100 this year. My dream is to win it some day."

Howie was just one of more than 550 competitors who took to the three-quarter-mile swim, 20-mile bike and 4-mile run event Sunday.

Colorado Springs resident Amanda Durner topped the women's field in a blazing time of 1:40:35, just four minutes back of the third-place men's finisher.

The course took competitors on a swim leg at Lake Catamount. Racers then transitioned in the closed parking lot adjacent to the Lake Catamount boat ramp for the cycling leg, a 20-mile ride to Howelsen Hill and back along Routt County Road 18, Colorado Highway 131, C.R. 14F and River Road. Racers changed gear again for a final 4-mile out and back run along C.R. 18 and C.R. 18C.

The race included competitors from 17 states and Costa Rica.

Race Organizer Barry Siff called the race awesome and said it was the best one they've had in Steamboat.

"It was spectacular," Siff said. "It was the best weather, the biggest turnout and a great race. You better believe we'll be back again."

For full results, visit www.5430sports.com.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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