Steamboat Springs' Maria Parekh runs Sunday in the Steamboat Springs Triathlon near Lake Catamount. More than 400 athletes took part in the seventh annual event, which capped a long weekend of athletic events in the Yampa Valley.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs' Maria Parekh runs Sunday in the Steamboat Springs Triathlon near Lake Catamount. More than 400 athletes took part in the seventh annual event, which capped a long weekend of athletic events in the Yampa Valley.

Longer Steamboat Triathlon attracts same enthusiasm

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2011 Steamboat Triathlon

For the first time, this year's event featured a full Olympic distance triathlon. More than 300 people competed at Lake Catamount.

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In its seven years, the Steamboat Springs Triathlon has acquired plenty of admirers, dedicated fans who’ve swollen the ranks of the annual Lake Catamount-centered event.

Many did so again Sunday as the race entered a new era as an Olympic-distance event.

Few of those fans have been as passionate in their praise as David Bobka.

“It was great. It’s just a beautiful course,” the Aurora athlete said.

And few of those fans have been as fast.

Bobka, competing for the first time in Steamboat, paced the field Sunday and (by default) set the course record in an event that this year saw a jump in the level of competition. Bobka was the class of that jump, finishing the 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run in 1 hour, 56 minutes and 23 seconds.

“The lake was awesome. It was really cool going through the marshlands on the way out and back in,” he said. “And you get out on the bike course, going past the Yampa. That was my favorite part, when you’re hugging the Yampa. And the run course was cool, too.

“I’m very happy. I was second at the Denver tri, but this is the first race I’ve won.”

A pair of Denver athletes came in behind him. Sam Holmes was second among the men, in at 1:59:17, and Matt Smith had his three-year winning streak in the event snapped and finished third at 2:01:06.

Fort Collins triathlete Wendy Mader won her second triathlon in as many days, coming off a victory in Boulder in the Iron Girl triathlon.

Another Steamboat first-timer, she had little trouble with the course, winning in 2:10:36.

“That was my fastest Olympic distance triathlon and in the race (Saturday), I had my best overall time there, too,” said Mader, thrilled with the results as she trains up for a half-Ironman world championships next month in Las Vegas.

She’s a 19-year veteran of triathlons and has finished 13 Ironman events.

“I’ve always wanted to do this race,” she said. “I never come up here, but it’s so close. It’s only three hours, and it’s a beautiful drive. This opportunity worked out in my schedule, and I’m glad I took it.”

Lauren Ivison, of Lyons, was second at 2:15:18, and Tess Amer, from Santa Fe, N.M., finished third in 2:17:17.

Amer and Bobka both represented a trend that grew in both this year’s Routt County triathlons, Sunday’s and the July Steamboat Lake Sprint Triathlon. The University of Colorado students were encouraged to attend Sunday’s race because of its inclusion in a series created by the Without Limits, the event organization company that took on Steamboat’s two races this summer.

“We started the Collegiate Cup this year, and it’s a four-race series,” race director Lance Panigutti said.

Points add up throughout the series and the winning teams, male and female, earn a $750 cash prize. Collegiate contestants get discounted entry fees for volunteering at events.

Many of Sunday’s racers lent a hand during Saturday’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 5 start in Steamboat.

“I raced for CU years ago and we wanted to support the collegiate scene,” Panigutti said. “It’s fun having them out there and it creates some good rivalry.”

The collegiate surge included racers from several areas schools, including Wyoming, Colorado State and Colorado. Not only did the athletes prove numerous, they proved fast, filing many of the podium spots in their age classifications.

“We all train together and we have a great time,” Bobka said about the Buffs’ triathlon team. “We make it fun. We have a great time and we still do well.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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