Sprint triathlon at Steamboat Lake serves as warm up for August race | SteamboatToday.com

Sprint triathlon at Steamboat Lake serves as warm up for August race

Austin Colbert

Boulder's Eric Kenney competes in Sunday's Steamboat Lake Sprint Triathlon. Kenney finished first among all athletes.

— Eric Kenney really likes the Steamboat Lake area and it really seems to like him. The 39-year-old endurance coach from Boulder has competed in three of the five Steamboat Lake Sprint Triathlons to date, which included Sunday's race, and the results speak for themselves.

"It's my favorite race probably of the whole year. The scenery is amazing," Kenney said. "A lot of my training now comes from just keeping up with all of my athletes and working out with them. So that kind of keeps me fit and motivated."

The sprint triathlon is organized by the Front Range-based Without Limits Productions company and featured about 150 athletes in the beginner-friendly race. Kenney, one of two athletes to enter the "Elite" category for Sunday's triathlon, looked just that when he finished the course in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 43.6 seconds to claim overall first place.

Kenney held off 40-year-old Highlands Ranch resident Tim Hola, the race's other elite class athlete, although Hola had been on his tail through the bulk of the half-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike ride and 3.5-mile run.

"I was able to stay with Tim on the swim, which was great because he's a phenomenal swimmer. He normally puts time on me there," Kenney said. "He almost always will catch me on the run. But I was able to hold him off. I spent a lot of time turning around looking over my shoulder. But to be able to stay ahead of him was really great because he's such a great athlete."

Kenney first competed in the Steamboat Lake Sprint Triathlon in 2012, the second year of the race, taking third overall with Hola finishing second to Lakewood's Cody Waite. After a year off, Kenney returned in 2014 and finished second overall behind Fort Collins resident Erik Nau. Hola did not participate in the race last year.

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So far this summer, Kenney has won each Without Limits Productions race he has entered and now has his eyes set on the Aug. 16 Steamboat Olympic Triathlon at Lake Catamount. Kenney is the performance director for the Boulder Triathlon Club, which won the Without Limits Productions triathlon series a year ago. With that money, they are investing in team housing for this year's Steamboat Olympic Triathlon, with Kenney looking to keep his streak going.

"We get a condo right in town and a bunch of people come out and do the race," Kenney said. "This year, I've won all the Without Limits races, which is an honor. It's good, especially to beat a person like Tim. I've never beaten him before. It was fun."

Taking third overall Sunday was Kenny Withrow, 29, a member of the Boulder Triathlon Club and student of Kenney's. Finishing fourth and just missing a spot on the overall podium was Steamboat Springs resident Eddie Rogers, a mainstay in the local running and triathlon scene in recent years. Rogers, who finished second in this same race back in 2013, completed the course in 1:13:35.9, less than a minute behind Withrow and six minutes behind Hola.

Rogers, 31, is a graduate of the Steamboat Mountain School, then called the Lowell Whiteman School, and can be found all across town competing in a multitude of athletic events. He took second overall in the Steamboat Springs Running Series last year but has backed off this summer, deciding to compete in fewer races.

"I haven't really run this year. I did the first two races and haven't really been doing much of it," Rogers said. "I'll go to almost every sporting event that I can. I do the mountain bike race here and the Running Series, then in the fall travel and do cyclocross."

Rogers said he plans to run in the Olympic triathlon at Catamount in August.

Sunday's top overall female finisher was Colorado Springs native Taylor Fogg. She finished sixth overall with a time of 1:15:55.6. Fogg, 20, has been running in triathlons since she was half her current age, including both national and international competitions.

"It's absolutely beautiful and it was a really, really great course," Fogg said about the course at Steamboat Lake. "I've been doing triathlons since I was about 10 or so. Been kind of taking a break this year, but wanted to get out there and do something at least."

Fogg, a neuroscience student at Columbia University in New York City, edged Steamboat's Heather Gollnick for the women's title. Gollnick finished the course in 1:16:36.3 for 10th overall.

Other notable Steamboat finishers included T.J. Thrasher, the top male in the 35-39 age category; Tasha Thrasher, the top female in the 40-44 age category; Matt Roberts, the top male in the 40-44 age category; Joy Rasmussen, the top female in the 55-59 age category; and Marti Irish, the top female in the 65-69 age category.

While Sunday's sprint triathlon was a short but intense affair, the Aug. 16 Olympic triathlon at Catamount promises a different experience. Event director and Without Limits Productions co-founder Lance Panigutti expects to see many familiar faces at the race, which also includes a sprint distance triathlon and an aquabike race.

"A lot of athletes kind of use this as a warm up for that because it's a little bit longer," Panigutti said about Sunday's sprint triathlon. "Lower altitude, flatter course, but it's just as scenic in a different kind of way. Athletes get the bonus this year. A lot of athletes are staying the next day to watch the Pro Challenge, which is in town."

Slots are still open for the Olympic triathlon, which has a cap of around 600 athletes. Panigutti expects the remainder of the spots to be filled in the next couple of weeks. To secure a bib number, visit withoutlimits.co.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert