Ballengee, Kloser Top the Field
December 22, 2002 (Snow Mountain Ranch, CO) – A white Christmas was celebrated a few days early on December 22 at the kickoff race for the winter triathlon series near Winter Park. Thanks to the efforts of Liz Caldwell and Barry Siff of Mountain Quest Adventures, winter triathlon–a popular sport in Europe–is back in Colorado. The field assembled on the cold, but calm morning–temperatures hovered just above 0 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius) at the start–faced a 5K run / 10K bike / 8K ski on a course of beautifully packed snow.
The racers shot off at 9:00am and headed on a rolling run course on the paved-but-covered-with-snow-and-ice roads of the YMCA camp. No snowshoes needed here, only a few cautious foot placements to avoid the slick spots. In a field packed with winter athletes and adventure racers, a summer representative, Adam Hodges of Boulder, took the lead by the first mile and then opened up a gap on the rest of the field. Mike Kloser of Vail kept within a half minute as the rest of the field strung out and bided their time for the coming bike and ski.
But the winter veterans soon took command. Hodges entered T1 and before he could turn around with helmet buckled, shoes switched and gloves back on cold hands, Kloser was in, out, and headed down the road on his mountain bike. Hodges followed to the valley of groomed ski trails where the bikers did two loops on the snow, which at times felt like riding on a beach, if it weren’t for the bitter cold. Jay Henry of Vail, whose main background is in mountain biking, soon moved into second behind Kloser. Dan Weiland, another Vail athlete took over third.
These three maintained their order into and out of T2, with Kloser a minute and a half up on Henry, and Weiland another half minute behind. Weiland, who grew up as a Nordic skier, hoped to bridge the gap to Henry. But it wasn’t to be, as Henry put in a great ski.
Kloser crossed the line with the win in 1:02:33, followed by Henry in 1:03:29, and Weiland in 1:05:43. All three from Vail, all three adventure racers with strong Nordic skiing backgrounds. Summer triathletes looking to make a switch to winter racing had better hone up their skiing skills!
In the women’s race, perennial super woman, Dannelle Ballengee, led from start to finish. In Ballengee’s career as an endurance athlete she has competed in triathlon, duathlon, track, trail running, ultrarunning, snowshoe, winter multisport, adventure racing…just to name a few of the myriad endeavors that keep her busy on the weekends. And when she’s not racing for Tubbs snowshoes in the winter, she also directs her own snowshoe events in Summit County. Triathletes looking for some winter cross-training are well advised to check them out!
The race for second and third places among the women was hotly contested between Karen Hogan of Louisville and Amber Rydholm of Boulder. Hogan prevailed in the end to finish second in 1:36:29 to Rydholm’s third in 1:36:44.
And while the athletes were out racing on the snow, Santa must have stopped by. Hot chocolate, cookies, bananas…and warmth…awaited everyone inside. Along with great prizes-which, although as much as I’d like to still believe in Santa, where actually provided by the race’s sponsors.
The next race in the series is February 2 at 10:00am. Same place-Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park-and same course-5K run / 10K bike / 8K ski. The last race in the series, which is on track to be recognized as the USA Triathlon National Winter Championships, is scheduled for March 9. The distances of that event will grow to an 8K run / 15K bike / 10K ski.
Top Three Women
1. Danelle Ballengee, Dillon 1:18:21
2. Karen Hogan, Louisville 1:36:29
3. Amber Rydholm, Boulder 1:36:44
Top Three Men
1. Mike Kloser, Vail 1:02:33
2. Jay Henry, Vail 1:03:29
3. Dan Weiland, Vail 1:05:43