Steamboat Springs triathlete John Holland nears the end of the bike stage of Sunday's ninth annual Steamboat Springs Triathlon at Lake Catamount.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs triathlete John Holland nears the end of the bike stage of Sunday's ninth annual Steamboat Springs Triathlon at Lake Catamount.

Triathletes fly through Catamount course


For more

Results from the Steamboat Triathlon can be found here.

— The calendar dates that linger in the front of Leroy Atencio’s brain help tell the story of the man.

The wheelchair-bound triathlete flew through Sunday’s Steamboat Springs Triathlon at Lake Catamount, joining 310 other individual finishers in the ninth annual event.

The event was a training exercise for him — a successful one. He chose Steamboat because the entire 10-kilometer running course was paved. It was ideal for his wheelchair, and the course proved adaptive-athlete friendly as he’d hoped.

“It was fun,” the Pueblo West man said.

He took up the sport three years ago, and the Steamboat Springs Triathlon was his first Olympic distance event.

Still, it’s is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal looms nearly a year out.

“Ironman Boulder, Aug. 3, 2014,” he said, simply. “Next is a half-Ironman, then it’s the Ironman in Boulder.”

Atencio said his disability has never drawn a rude comment from a fellow racer and that he enjoys triathlons in part because of the overwhelming encouragement on the course, both directed at him and directed at the other racers.

“I’ve never seen an unhappy triathlete,” he said.

And he realizes he may be an inspiration to others.

“I’ve been told that,” he said. “It does inspire a lot of people, I’ve been told, but that’s not why I’m out here.”

He was injured in a noncombat military injury Aug. 19, 1990. But one day short of the 23rd anniversary, he wasn’t in Steamboat to prove he could overcome that injury on that date.

He was there to race, looking ahead to Aug. 3, 2014, not back at Aug. 19, 1990.

“I come out here to have fun,” he said. “If I do inspire other people, that’s another great part of it.”

Sunday was a day for the racers as elite athletes from all corners of the globe broke from the ranks to record blazing times on the course.

Mauro Cavanha, a Brazilian racing out of Los Angeles, won the men’s race, finishing in 1 hour, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. He was just ahead of Boulder’s Karol Kristov, in at 1:57:35, and Denver’s Matt Smith, third in 1:58:09.

Michelle Vesterby, a Dane racing out of Boulder, won the women’s race by more than five minutes, finishing in 2:04:10.

Kasia Rasker, of Boulder, was second in 2:09:40 and Steamboat’s Heather Gollnick was third, in 2:11:01.

“It was a fantastic day,” said Vesterby, based in Colorado as she trains aiming at a top 10 finish for the Ironman in Hawaii.

“I was told Steamboat was so beautiful,” she said, considering what drew her up from the Front Range, “and I was promised a trip to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.

“It was a tough one because there were rolling hills, but I was happy with my time. It was a great course and a well organized race.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email


Ann Holmes 3 years, 9 months ago

I was very disappointed in the way traffic was stopped between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m., Sunday, August 18, along Colorado 131 during the Steamboat Olympic Triathlon at Lake Catamount. More than 100 cars were stopped for more than 30 minutes as the bikers came out of CR18 and then turned on CR14E at Sidney Peaks. I understand that a little later, on their return down River Road and CR14E, the bikers first turned west on Colorado 131 for a turnaround at CR14 before returning to CR18 to go back to Catamount. That’s interrupting traffic along more than a mile of a major commuting route for South Routt residents for most of 2 hours. I realize this was a Sunday morning, but many folks have commitments such as jobs at the hospital as well as church services. My husband and I missed a special reception at our church because of this. As a retired teacher and avid biker myself I appreciate others testing their skills in a race of this type. But there had been NO warning, notice, signage before we all were stopped. As Routt County residents both my husband and I have already received reverse 911 calls about the upcoming ProChallenge Bike Race on Wednesday and Thursday this week. We also have been reading about that race and the many other bike-related events planned for this week in the Steamboat Today, and Denver Post. I checked the last several days of the Steamboat Today, and found nothing about the Steamboat Olympic Triathlon other than a brief listing in Happenings. We could have been alerted to this event with a number of possible ways and been able to adjust our travel times accordingly. With the absence of any other possible route into Steamboat, I think such notice would be mandatory. Such things as articles, notices, maps, advertising in the Steamboat Today, signs being put up along the route a couple days before and/or reverse 911 calls to South Routt residents should have been done. Perhaps all three. A brief listing in Happenings on Saturday and Sunday in the Steamboat Today, is simply inadequate! In the future, I would hope that organizers and promoters of such events would give us the courtesy and/or be required to provide such advance warning of road closures. Ann Holmes, Stagecoach


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.