Tom Velasquez, of Hayden, makes his way around the Lawnmower Triathlon obstacle course Saturday during the inaugural Redneck Olympics. Velasquez won the event, beating out the only other lawn mower that didn't break during the three events.

Photo by Nicole Inglis

Tom Velasquez, of Hayden, makes his way around the Lawnmower Triathlon obstacle course Saturday during the inaugural Redneck Olympics. Velasquez won the event, beating out the only other lawn mower that didn't break during the three events.

Inaugural Redneck Olympics sees success in Hayden

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— The torch was made out of Busch beer cans, and the fanfare was a playlist of country songs that all incorporated the word “redneck.”

The track was made of dirt, and it was the fastest tractor that took home the gold medal made of rusty horseshoes.

London 2012 might not kick off until next week, but Hayden got the festivities going a little early with the inaugural Redneck Olympics, an event that took place during the annual Hayden Daze weekend celebration.

Event coordinator and Hayden resident Travis Mathey said the first year of the event, which was just a crazy idea six months ago, was meant to lay the groundwork for the 2013 event.

“It’s been everything we wanted it to be in the first year,” he said.

More than 100 people showed up for the first few events, with about 50 participants in the Paintball Obstacle Course and the Mud Surfing competitions. The crowd only grew as the hot and sunny afternoon wore on.

Mathey said he hoped the event would be an irreverent day for Hayden residents to celebrate life in the small, western Routt County town.

“We love Hayden, and I think there’s something unique and special about it that a lot of people don’t know about,” he said. “We wanted to showcase that and have some fun with it.”

The morning started off right after the downtown Hayden Daze parade with the Lawnmower Triathlon, featuring obstacle, speed and strength events for riding mowers.

Mathey competed alongside three Hayden residents who, about two weeks earlier, did some junkyard searching for a few old machines to build up for the event.

Two of the lawnmowers died during the first leg of the event, but the rednecks showed their resourcefulness as they changed a belt on one of the mowers in less than five minutes for the second event.

Still, it was Hayden resident Tom Velasquez whose souped-up mower stood the test of redneck stamina.

But he said his horseshoe trophy wasn’t the true motivation.

“We just like the tinkering and farting around,” he said. “We wanted to see what we could come up with.

“I’d love to do it again next year.”

Fifty children and adults lined up for the biathlon, which pairs wheelbarrow-pushing with a test of sharpshooter skills with a paintball gun. Then the rednecks got a little dirty with the Mud Surfing slip 'n’ slide.

Dressed in camouflage shirts, Olivia Graham and Megan Williams, of Steamboat Springs, said they weren’t sure whether they were rednecks. They also had never shot paintball guns before.

“We’re just outgoing,” Williams said. “We see an opportunity, and we go for it.”

Some spectators traveled from well beyond Colorado to catch a piece of the clumsy and often hilarious action.

Jay Macklin recently bought a condo in Steamboat and chose this weekend to bring his two kids and another family out to the Yampa Valley just because of the Redneck Olympics.

“We call each other rednecks back home,” Macklin said. “We’re city people, and we’re getting our kids exposed to some good living.”

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

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