Joel Reichenberger: Race sums up town


Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or

Find more columns by Joel here.

Saturday's Steamboat Pentathlon marked the one-year anniversary of my moving to Steamboat Springs.

Last year's pentathlon was my first big assignment. Having now completed the circuit once, I've come to realize there was no better place to start.

I didn't know it a year ago, but nothing sums up Steamboat better than the pentathlon.

I've tried again and again to explain to friends who've never visited what sports in Steamboat are like. There seems to be someone crazy enough to try everything.

Often, it's not just some "one" either. It's a group of people.

There is a dedicated group of more than 100 mountain bikers that shows up every Wednesday evening throughout the summer to compete in the Town Challenge mountain bike races.

They dash up mountains after work, when the rest of the world is ready for a cocktail.

That group doesn't always include the equally dedicated Steamboat enthusiasts who compete in 12- and 24-hour bike races.

There's a dedicated group of trial runners who train together to tackle 50- and 100-mile trail marathons. They often aren't among the regular athletes who compete in every Steamboat Springs Running Series event.

There's someone for every sport and a group for every someone.

It's only the pentathlon that brings them all together, though.

Kelly Boniface, a mountain-biking stalwart, won the women's standard course ahead of trail marathon guru Jenna Gruben.

Barkley Robinson finished second among the men's standard course racers. He's a mountain biking maniac who rarely misses a Town Challenge event. He finished just ahead of Allen Belshaw, a trail-running champion.

Andy Picking, who has won the season-long Running Series points championship, was seventh overall. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club cycling program director Ben Clark was 13th.

Kris Cannon finished second in the 24 Hours of Moab solo event last fall and competed Saturday as a part of team Nutrition, the women's standard course champions.

Greg Long coaches distance running at the high school and competed as a part of the co-ed standard course champion Creekside team.

The pentathlon can't do it all. There doesn't seem to be a place for any of Steamboat's kayakers, for instance. But I could only marvel at the way the event brought the town together.

Nothing else compares. The Steamboat Marathon brings in people by the truckload but doesn't grab the mountain biking community. The triathlon will have nearly three times as many competitors but still doesn't attract all the same audience.

The pentathlon, though, brings the best of Steamboat's far-flung sports together.

After one year on the job, that's what makes the pentathlon my favorite of Steamboat's sporting events.


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