Kathy McGowan, of Snowmass Village, leads a pack of riders up the final hill of the bike section of the Steamboat Triathlon last summer. The triathlon returns Aug. 29.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Kathy McGowan, of Snowmass Village, leads a pack of riders up the final hill of the bike section of the Steamboat Triathlon last summer. The triathlon returns Aug. 29.

Focus already starting to turn to Steamboat Triathlon in August

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Joy Rasmussen demonstrates the proper stroke technique to Kim Romick at the Old Town Hot Springs last summer. Rasmussen again will coach aspiring triathletes this summer.

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Steamboat Springs racer Kelly Landers, right, digs deep as she sprints to try and pass Jessica Axen at the finish line of last year’s Steamboat Triathlon.

For more

■ For more information or to register for the sixth annual Steamboat Triathlon, check out http://www.steamboattriathlon.com/. The fee is $90 for individuals and increases every month until the Aug. 29 race.

■ More information about Joy Rasmussen’s training classes is at http://www.coloradotriathloncoach.com/.

— Molly Killien said the long bike rides and hard runs were difficult. The laps in the pool were grueling, and the 5 a.m. alarms were simply miserable.

She said it all paid off nine months ago when she competed in and finished the Steamboat Triathlon, her first time in any such race.

“I finished. That’s what I was looking to do,” Killien said. “It was my first triathlon, and it was a ton of fun.”

And that’s some of the sensation she’ll be chasing this Aug. 29 when she plans to swim, bike and run nearly 25 miles again in the triathlon.

But she said the finish line wasn’t the only highlight of last year’s experience, and now, as she contemplates three months of muscle-busting workouts, it’s not the only thing that motivates her.

Killien signed up last year to train with Joy Rasmussen, an experienced triathlete and the Steamboat Triathlon race director. That led to the before-the-sun mornings, to a successful race and, Killien said, to a much more fulfilling experience that turned the pursuit of a late-summer race into an all-summer joyride.

“With Joy, I made the first one as much of a team sport as humanly possible,” Killien said with a laugh. “Working with her was a great way to create as much of a team mentality as possible. I met new friends and gained new knowledge about all that goes into training for a triathlon.

“I definitely want to do it again.”

Growing again

Virtually every major Steamboat Springs summer event stands between today and the kickoff of the triathlon, from next month’s marathon to the July 4 activities to the Tour de Steamboat cycling race.

Rasmussen said she’s already seeing evidence of the town’s excitement, however. Registration for the race recently opened. The annual event frequently filled up early in its first four years, but the fifth annual version last summer was the first under new management. Rasmussen and a group of local triathlon supporters took over organization duties from a Front Range event company. That change led to a decline in Front Range participants, and for the first time in years, the race didn’t hit its 600-racer limit.

It was close, however, as 528 racers registered. Rasmussen said organizers still were thrilled with their first effort and are gung-ho for year No. 2.

She said more than 100 already have signed up.

Most of the particulars about the 2010 version of the race are the same as they always have been. The event will start at 8 a.m. at Lake Catamount. Athletes will dive into the water and swim three-fourths of a mile. They’ll hop on bikes and ride back into Steamboat Springs, a 22.4-mile trip. Finally, they’ll run four miles on county roads near the lake.

Racers can register as individuals for $90 until June 1, for $100 in June and for $135 from July until the day of the race.

Relay teams, meanwhile, can register for $125, $140 and $175 in the same time frames. USA Triathlon members can save $10 on every class.

One change this year will be the addition of the Corporate Challenge, which will pit relay teams from local businesses against one another.

“We were really excited after last year, and this year we’re hoping to get even closer to 600,” Rasmussen said. “All the stats show that triathlon numbers around the country are staying strong.”

Training up

Rasmussen already has found a few eager athletes thinking three months in the future. She hopes to add more as her training classes get off the ground in the coming week.

The workouts mostly will be based out of the Old Town Hot Springs, so a membership there is required. That costs $65 month to month.

Rasmussen said she’d be there for four workouts a week early in the summer and then three later. That training service costs $230 for the first month and then $185 per month thereafter.

That fee includes the time with Rasmussen and online training from a triathlon training service.

There’s also a one-time $30 charge.

“We’ve never had a training program like this available in Steamboat,” Rasmussen said. “People have to make the commitment well in advance in order to feel good when they cross the finish line. Three or four months in advance is when most people start out.”

Rasmussen got into the training game last year and uses the classes to log her own necessary training miles. She completed the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Hawaii in 2008 and has three triathlons on the docket for this summer.

“I try to use my own experiences to encourage them,” she said about her students. “I get in the water with them, run beside them and am doing the exact same workouts. I try to tell them about what I’ve done so they’re more prepared when they embark on that race.”

It’s that attention commitment, combined with the bonds formed among athletes working together, that had Killien hooked.

“I thought the triathlon was something I’d enjoy doing once, but never do again,” she said. “I definitely found an appreciation for the sport and the community it fosters. It was eye-opening, not just to the people that come into town for a triathlon event, but for the friends and colleagues and peers, everyone striving toward the same goal.”

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