Tri-Glenwood celebrates 20th birthday Sunday
The Tri-Glenwood Triathlon got its start as part the centennial celebration for Glenwood Springs. On Sunday the Tri-Glenwood will have a pretty big birthday of its own.The Tri-Glenwood turns 20 this weekend, and it has come a long way since the days of swimming widths in the pool, having flexible time restrictions and allowing friends and family to assist in the transition areas.”That first year they allowed our family to help,” said race director Cindy Lundin, the only athlete to have competed in every Tri-Glenwood to date. “I had somebody drying me off and somebody else helping me put my clothes on” after the swim leg.”We figured if you came to help someone you would be in it next year,” said Steve Mills, one of the original race directors. “It’s become so competitive now, that seems really sort of silly.”Our intent was to try to get people involved,” he added. “I guess we were kind of surprised we pulled it off. I’m just amazed that 20 years later it’s such a popular event.”The event is a bit more polished, and the popularity has grown dramatically since that first year – the race was full by May 14 and a record 300 starters are expected. But the essence of the event hasn’t changed much.
It’s still an ideal first triathlon with the warm water of the Hot Springs Pool, but challenging enough for the seasoned triathlete. More importantly, despite its popularity among athletes from the Front Range and beyond, it is the ultimate community event. Familiar faces, while no longer allowed to help in the transition areas, greet competitors at every turn in the form of volunteers.Sopris Elementary School principal Howard Jay, who missed just one Tri-Glenwood and holds the swimming leg record of 10 minutes, 15 seconds, looks forward to seeing Mike Wells on his corner in front of Summit Canyon Mountaineering every year. He also knows that, among other volunteers who have laid claim each year to certain spots, Wes and Judy Burke will man their station at the bicycle turnaround at Canyon Creek.”All the volunteers have been doing this for years,” Jay said. “They’ve been doing it as long as I have.”In the beginningMills and David Beyers, then working for Colorado Mountain College, were the original architects of the Tri-Glenwood. The goal was to help Glenwood celebrate its centennial and attract people to town – get people to “try” Glenwood and “try” a triathlon.”Of course the only things we really knew how to do were running and that kind of stuff,” Mills said. “We had the pool and figured we could find bike and running courses.”
Mills and Beyers were the official organizers, but the race organization was a community effort from the beginning. Everything from city liaison duties to course layout to the CMC welding teacher making the bike racks was done on a volunteer basis.”We were able to get a lot of help from a lot of people,” Mills said.”We had people on every street corner,” he added. “If I’m proud of anything, that’s what I’m most proud of. The spirit has been maintained through 20 years. That’s why people like coming here. They do feel some affinity with the volunteer effort, and it’s more of a community effort than a lot of other races.”Mills only acted as the race director for the first year, but the foundation he, Beyers and the rest of the community laid was obviously solid. “If we did a good enough job getting it started and built a strong enough base of support, we felt it should be able to carry on by itself,” Mills said. “We always though that this was kind of our participation in the centennial – not something we wanted to continue as a college event, but as a community thing. It’s really an all-volunteer type thing.”It’s testimony to really the very best of what volunteers can do.”
This year’s front-runnersCharlie Wertheim doesn’t want to hear it, but he is again the favorite to take the Tri-Glenwood overall honors this year. And he will remain the favorite until someone proves he can knock him off.The former Tri-Glenwood race director has four titles in his 11 years of competing in the event, including back-to-back-to-back wins over the past three years. He also set the course record in 2002 with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 27 seconds.A fourth consecutive title will be no easy stroll for Wertheim, however. Glenwood’s Scott Marr placed second last year and should push for the overall title this year. Brian Passenti, also of Glenwood, and Jeffrey Hulett, who will be racing in his 18th Tri-Glenwood, also placed in the top 10.On the women’s side, Leslie Fotopulos, Traci Case and Kae McDonald of Glenwood placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in 2003. It’s a good bet that one of them will be at the top of the heap this year.Carbondale’s Helen McQueeny and New Castle’s Andrea Pether also are expected back and posted top-10 finishes last year.The first heat of the Tri-Glenwood starts at 6:30 a.m. at the Hot Springs Pool, followed by the bike leg west to Canyon Creek and back. The race wraps up with the 5-mile run, which finishes at the Seventh Street Esplanade.The first heat of the Tri-Glenwood starts at 6:30 a.m. at the Hot Springs Pool, followed by the bike leg west to Canyon Creek and back. The race wraps up with the 5-mile run, which finishes at the Seventh Street Esplanade.
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