Annual triathlon is facing obstacles |

Annual triathlon is facing obstacles

Jon Mitchell

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The annual Tri-Glenwood Triathlon has managed to stay the course for close to three decades. Now, a potential problem with the race course could put that run in jeopardy.

Co-race directors Brian Passenti and Amber Wissing said this past week that plans to either reconstruct or repair the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood could prevent the race from happening in the future. No bridge would mean no triathlon, they said, adding that the prospects of the race continuing years down the road could diminish substantially.

“There are a lot of people in this town who have invested a lot of time and energy into this race,” Wissing said. “So we’re kind of in a bittersweet spot where we want to do a really great job this year so that, if it’s the end, we went out with a bang.”

This year’s race, which begins at 6:30 a.m. Sunday and represents its 30th running, is reason enough for some extra effort to be put into it. Wissing and Passenti plan to do that, as a live band and BBQ will be on hand at the race finish line at Two Rivers Park.

The course will also remain the same as it was in 2013 when the running course — which begins by going underneath the Grand Avenue Bridge — was shortened by close to 200 yards compared to the previous 28 times it had been run. The possibility of construction dominating massive parts of the course, however, would stop the race from happening and, possibly, keep the race from continuing after the bridge’s completion.

“I was tasked with getting the race off of city streeets and bring it to the bike paths, but not to impede … emergency services,” Passenti said. “But there are little to no options for alternate bike routes.”

Other factors play into the future of the race. Wissing and Passenti — who after this race will be relinquishing their duties as race directors — noted that a saturated itinerary of triathlons and running events around the state have taken a toll on the turnout. Close to 400 people took part in last year’s race, but only an estimated 230 had registered through the end of last week, Wissing said.

The pair also ruled out the possibility of rerouting the race — which begins with an 800-meter swim at the Hot Springs Pool — through the pool at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

“The Hot Springs just says Glenwood. It’s one of the reasons people come here,” Passenti said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said on its website that the Grand Avenue Bridge project could break ground by mid-summer in 2015.

The race will be missing its returning champions, John Heskett of Colorado Springs and Amy Ackerman of Steamboat Springs. The second- and third-place women’s finishers from last year, Heather Turtle of Littleton and Nicole Cavarra of Carbondale, will be back this year. Also back will be Paul Turtle, last year’s fourth-place finisher who is the highest returning placer from the previous race.

The race will benefit the cross country and swimming programs at Glenwood Springs High School.

Registrations for individuals and teams are still being accepted at

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