Saturday, March 20th, 2010 is the 19th annual Steamboat Pentathlon.  I have a distant memory of this event a few years back.  It’s a humorous one.  It is always good when you can laugh at yourself.

The Steamboat Pentathlon is held at Howelsen Hill, one of the oldest ski mountains in Colorado, which also boasts a world-renowned ski jumping complex.  The standard course for the pentathlon is comprised of:

(1) Alpine Ski – Ski down 400 vertical feet on the face of Howelsen Hill, but wait, you first have to run up the 400 vertical feet on foot, get your gear on, and then make your way down what is a quick short trip down a steep ice-packed run.   What is nice is that you do have your choice of alpine, nordic, telemark or snowboard.  The trick to this leg is to not wear yourself out running up that hill.  Take it slow and save your heart, you have the rest of the course to catch up.

(2) Snowshoe – 2.5 miles along a windy path.  In my opinion, it has more inclines than what the course description may lead you to believe.

(3) Cross Country Ski – You can classic or skate ski for 4 miles on Howelsen’s intermediate/expert Nordic trails.  It seemed like it was all uphill, but according to Joel, it’s up, then up & down, then up again.  Once you “summit” then the return is downhill very fast back to transition.

(4) Mountain Bike – 12 miles out and back on paved road; turn-around is muddy (so I’m told).

(5) Run – 5 miles out and back, along the Yampa River Core Trail, finishing back at Howelsen Hill.

I am not an athlete, but I have run in four marathons, more half-marathons, and I can’t count how many 10K’s.  Joel will do an Ironman with minimal training, so I thought how hard could this pentathlon be, especially if I can get a team for a relay.  Well, the gal who was going to do the cross-country ski leg couldn’t make it, so I did both the snowshoe and cross-country ski.  I’ll spare you the details, it was not pretty.  We were pretty much last in the first three legs and then DNF’d (did not finish).  Names have been omitted to protect the innocent ;-).

My recommendation is, if you aren’t sure, sign up for the Short Course.  You’ll thank me!

This event is not for the casual athlete.  It is a lot of fun to participate, if you’re in shape; but if you’re not, come and watch.  It is amazing to watch these athletes, who are usually locals or from the nearby ski towns who all boast exceptional athletic ability.

There is a reason why Steamboat Springs, with population of less than 10,000 people, has produced more Winter Olympic athletes than any other town in the USA.  This year, 17 athletes from this town represented the U.S. in the Winter Olympics.  So far, at the time of this post, the cross-country skiers have medaled in three Nordic-combined events. Not sure whether Steamboat is the “egg or the chicken” when it comes to the caliber of these athletes but I don’t think it matters, the exceptionally athletic chickens are here.

So if you’re not of the faint at heart, love a challenge and have your cardiologist’s approval, come out and try this event.  Your friends and family will have a great time watching, and get to spend time here in beautiful Ski Town USA.

I am looking forward to hanging out with Lyllah in her Chariot, sipping hot chocolate and cheering on Joel, and our friend, Mary Beth, as they come over the finish line.  The next time I try the Pentathlon, it will probably be in a dream.  I am a great spectator, cheerleader and support crew.  I love having that job, for now.

If you’re seriously thinking about doing it this year, and need help in putting together your list of gear for the Pentathlon, send me an email and I’ll be happy to help.