Tri-Glenwood Triathlon back for a 25th time |

Tri-Glenwood Triathlon back for a 25th time

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent file

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Earlier this summer, Steve Mills came across a Tri-Glenwood Triathlon poster bearing an emblem that caught his eye. The foundation of the design – a big logo featuring the number 25 – is loaded with meaning to Mills.

After all, he was part of the group that brought the triathlon to Glenwood Springs back in 1985. And it’s an event that’s still roaring strong. The 25th installment of Tri-Glenwood will hit the streets on Sunday.

Mills never figured it’d last this long. Wandering across that poster left him stricken with awe.

“It wasn’t until I saw the 25th anniversary logo poster that I had to stop and think that it’s that old,” he relayed. “It’s amazing.”

Working at Colorado Mountain College at the time, Mills and a group of running enthusiasts came up with the triathlon as a project in honor of Glenwood Springs’ centennial.

“I had been in a couple triathlons – one in Denver and one in Steamboat,” said Mills, who co-directed the first race with Dave Byers. “We always wondered why there wasn’t one here with the [Hot Springs Lodge] pool. The genesis really came from the group of us deciding it was something to try.”

And try they did.

Enlisting many a volunteer and addressing every possible logistical nuance of the project – from course layout to coordinating with the state patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation – the first triathlon came together.

“Fortunately, we were able to do that because of all the college connections,” Mills said. “We had a great resource for volunteers. Many of them have held to this day. That’s one of the remarkable things.”

Mills and company passed the torch on the organizing efforts the following year, but the triathlon lived on to become a Glenwood institution.

It’s grown mightily in a quarter century.

Some 108 participants braved the 1985 race. On Sunday, nearly 350 starters will tackle a course that features an 825-meter swim in the Hot Springs Lodge pool, a 15-mile bike ride along Interstate 70 and a five-mile run centered around Midland Avenue and the River Trail.

The course hasn’t changed all that much in 25 years. The bike path wasn’t there at the start and, in that very first year, triathletes swam in lanes and not lengths of the pool as they do now.

The Seventh Street finish line, originally chosen for the added exposure that accompanies a downtown location, is certainly the same.

One brave soul has participated in each and every Tri-Glenwood Triathlon, either individually or as part of a team. That would be Cindy Lundin, the race’s director the last eight years.

Like Mills, she didn’t anticipate the race having such staying power, even if the experience stuck with her in a big way.

“I had no idea,” she said. “It was my first triathlon, and it was empowering. I still find it to be that.”

That sense of empowerment, coupled with the Roaring Fork Valley’s natural beauty and a stable of volunteers who add a personal touch to the proceedings, keep people coming back.

“Glenwood Springs has the most awesome volunteers,” Lundin said. “We have the most beautiful venue to swim in. You ride the shoulder on Interstate 70 and you’re looking at Mount Sopris all the way back in. You run along the Roaring Fork River.”

All that keeps people coming back to Glenwood year after year. The race always fills up, and quickly. Rarely does registration extend beyond three weeks.

“I could put another 100 people in if I had the room,” Lundin said.

That’s the surest indicator of the race’s immense popularity. And it all started back with those 108 brave souls back in 1985.

Back then, it’s unlikely anyone ever imagined the race would have such longevity. Mills didn’t.

“I figured it may go on for a couple years, but I never expected [25],” he said. “It was kind of a one-time deal for the centennial, something we hoped to get a lot of people turned onto.”

Mission accomplished.

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