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Record field at Pagosa Duathlon
Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday, July 11, at the third annual Pagosa Duathlon (“Do the Du”), more than 110 competitors, young and old, were “dukin’ at the Du.” Trail conditions were dry but not too dusty. The heat factor wasn’t intense. In short, Mother Nature cooperated and provided ideal race conditions all around for this event raising funds to support the Archuleta County Victim’s Assistance Program.

Sometimes it does take someone from outside to remind us of the specialness of this place that we call home. Visiting participants commented on the beauty of the scenery and the specialness of the single track in the Turkey Springs/Brockover Mesa area. The course for the full duathlon includes six miles of running and 12 miles of mountain biking with the bulk of it on fast single track. The half duathlon (3 mile run, 7 mile bike) shared part of the same course and started at the same time as the full “Du.”

The local athletes who participated in Saturday’s duathlon did enjoy the opportunity to pit their athleticism against other participants, particularly the unknown competition from outside of Pagosa which made up approximately 45 percent of the total that competed. There is, in general, a good sense of everyone being there to share the day with each other. Enjoyment is partly enhanced by a low-stress and not highly competitive attitude of organizers and participants.

This year, race organizers offered a Mini-Du (1/2 mile run, 1 mile bike) for children, and there were nine participants ranging in ages from 3 to 11. Every single one of the children were so precious, earnest and absolutely won the hearts and cheers of every spectator. The first one to cross the finish line was James Berndt (11 years old from Pagosa) with a time of 8 minute 49 seconds and the last finisher was Caleb Hendricks (Platteville, Colo.) with a time of 17 minutes and 25 seconds. What an exciting way for young Caleb to celebrate his third birthday!

Having spoken of the young, let’s take a look at the others. In the Half-Du category, the top three male finishers were Angel Santiago from New Mexico (59:17), Cauy Atole from New Mexico (1:04:12), and Shawn Hayes from Pagosa (1:13:37). The top three female finishers were Hillary Matzdorf from Pagosa (1:12:53), Danielle Pajak from Pagosa (1:12:53) — note the tie for first place; and Alice Bell (Palisade, Colorado) with a time of 1:17:04. In the Half-Du team division Patrick Bogges (Bayfield) and Shawn Grimes (Durango) won the race in a time of 53:55, followed by Daniel Hatton and Jonna Anderson (both from Monte Vista, Colorado) with a time of 53:57. Denise Bogges and Missy Sarnow (Bayfield) came in third with a time of 58:00.

In the Full-Du category, the top three male finishers were Steve Ilg (Arizona-1:45:00), Patrick O’Brian (Pagosa-1:45:22) and Paul Marusar (New Mexico-1:46:21). The top three females were Sharley Schreiner (Kansas–1:52:23); Amanda Faver (New Mexico-1:58:24) and Katarina Medici (Pagosa-2:02:18).

In the Full-Du team division, which drew the largest number of participants, two local 19-year-olds — Chase Moore and Jackson Walsh — blazed through the finish line in 1:31:00. They were followed by another Pagosa team of teenagers — Michael Gallegos and Ryan Hamilton (1:39:38). Third place was won by Gary Torres (Utah) and Virgil Chavez (New Mexico) in 1:42:10.

The youngest team to complete the full duathlon was made up of two 13-year-olds from Pagosa: Blake Weber and Morgan Shelton. Another Pagosa youngster, Sierra Trout (11 years old) mountain biked seven miles on a Half-Du team with her dad, Nathan Trout. Dan Keuning and his two sons, Jake (12) and Josh (9), all raced and completed the Half-Du as individual participants. I can remember Dan running with his sons biking alongside him in the 2005 Turkey Trot. Kudos to the parents of the young athletes for training with them, encouraging and supporting them along the way. Kudos also to the youngsters themselves for being willing to get out there along with all those big-footed folks thundering down the trail behind them.

I wish to also acknowledge the equally tenacious spirit of the old. Although age and cunning are a winning combination, the arena of duathlon (especially with sprint distances) is still dominated by youth and speed. There were two men over 60 competing on Saturday: Bill Sleep (age 62 from Texas) and Ed Furtaw (age 61 from Pagosa). A wise old goat who ran into his late 80s once told me that aging seems to have built into it a perpetual slight-insult machine, whereby your memories of what running was like at your peak becomes sharper in inverse proportion to your ability to replicate the feel and feats of those days. Oh well, success is to be measured in the complete picture of a well-constructed life, not just finish times. That’s why these old athletes keep on chugging.

Every participant, if asked, would have a story to tell. My story is simply that I was honored to be on a team with Logan Gholson. Logan, who graduated from Pagosa Springs High School several years ago, is home on leave from the army and will soon be shipped out to Iraq. I wish Logan all the best of memory-building as he spends the rest of July with loved ones in Pagosa. When Logan gets to Iraq, I hope he is able to continue his passion for running. Just remember to run as fast as you did last Saturday in order to out-run the shmaals (dust storms) when they blow in off the desert.

It was a good event — a fantastic success for all the smiling, exhausted athletes. Everyone was applauded, not just those finishing first. Many of the older teens who smoked the course this year began competing in the local “High-Tri” triathlon years ago. We look forward to seeing the youngsters who participated in their first race this year come back in future years and continue to humble us older athletes.

Last year’s event drew 57 participants. Of this huge increase in participation, Carmen Hubbs, executive director of Archuleta County Victim’s Assistance Program (the beneficiary of this fund-raiser), said, “I’m so excited it has grown so quickly. We will continue to make this a family-friendly event to include participants of all ages and ability levels. I want to thank my duathlon committee, sponsors and businesses who provided cash support and door prizes and the many valued volunteers who offered logistical support the entire morning. Without all of you this successful event would not have happened.”