Three tastes of winter: DMR to host inaugural Winter Triathlon

Not only will Durango Mountain Resort be the site of the highest Nordic race in the country, but it will also play host to one of only three winter triathlons held in the nation.

Sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the country’s governing triathlon body, the Durango Winter Triathlon will take place at the Durango Nordic Center on Sat., Jan. 26. Featuring a 2.1-mile run, 12-mile bike ride and 6-mile ski leg, the race will be a qualifier for the World Championships.

Relatively unheard of in the United States, winter triathlons are huge in Europe, according to race organizer and local triathlon coach Arthur Razee. In fact, a move is afoot to introduce the sport of winter triathlon into the Olympics.

“We’ll probably be seeing it as an event in 2010 in Vancouver,” he said. “The Europeans are really pushing it.”

While the sport may be new to most local athletes, Rayzee noted that at least one local man is a seasoned veteran: Ben Sonntag, 27, a two-time former world winter triathlon champ turned Fort Lewis College student.

Rayzee said the intent of the race is not only to introduce athletes to the sport in order to be competitive in an international setting, but to introduce the general public as well.

“Although all the biking, running and skiing will be on three different courses, we are going to have the racers come through the same central area between laps in each discipline,” he said. “We are trying to make it as spectator friendly as possible and get the whole town involved.”

Helen Low, director of the Durango Nordic Center, said perhaps the most difficult part of the race will be the biking leg. “From what I understand, biking on snow for 12 miles is incredibly difficult,” she said. Racers typically deflate their tires, from an average of around 35 psi for terra firma, to around 10 psi for snow, she said.

The Nordic Center will be closed for skiing to the general public the day of the race. Low promises it will reopen the following day for unhampered Nordic skiing. “With the weight of our cats and how much snow we’ve got, we’ll be able to groom right over the bike tracks” she said. “You’ll never even know they were there.”

For more information on the Durango Winter Triathlon, visit www.wintertri@q.com or www.durangowinter triathlon.com or call Arthur Rayzee at 385-0634.

-Missy Votel

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