Looking for New Triathlon Adventures? Southwest Triathlon Series–Gunnison, Montrose, Alamosa and Los Alamos

By Bill Plock

Deep in the heart of Colorado, in cities on or south of Highway 50, you can find a series of sprint triathlons that will keep you racing until the end of October. Each of these triathlons offer a pool swim and unparalleled scenery in a small town atmosphere. Each has their own twists and nuances. For example the Alamosa Triathlon finishes with comfortable swim in the hot springs pool. But its on October 17th, so at almost 8,000 feet the warmer than usual water might feel wonderful.

These triathlons feature some of the highest elevations of any triathlon in the United States and Los Alamos is the longest continually running triathlon in the country!

Each race will have about 250 participants, they are professionally timed and will have BASE nutrition on course. The fun thing is each race will have dry camping options so if you want to pull in with your RV or trailer the night before with the family, maybe the whole family would like to race–or at least watch. Each race has a kid race and is very family oriented.

Last year we covered the Alamosa triathlon and became familiar with the vibe that no doubt will be in place in each of these venues. Here is a link to the story from last fall. https://303triathlon.com/a-lot-more-than-meets-the-eye-at-tri-in-alamosa-cool-tie-to-amelia-earhart-and-farm-that-built-pool/

Unfortunately this year because of some regulations at the lab in Los Alamos that triathlon will be virtual and is going on from July 1-24. If you care to learn more or register go here: https://losalamostri.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=8755

The Gunnison Triathlon takes place August 28th and features a beautiful ride north of town towards Ohio Pass. For more information you can go here and register: https://gunnisonhightri.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=7343

Next in the Series is the Black Canyon Triathlon taking place in Montrose on October 2nd. Says race director Kevin Davis, “The Black Canyon Triathlon is the primary fundraiser for the Montrose Recreation Foundation. Funds are used to promote and expand recreational opportunities within the Montrose community. This includes activity scholarships for both youth and older adults that qualify based on financial need. These scholarships are used to participate in sports, recreation activities, swimming lessons, and for access to the Montrose Community Recreation Center and Field House”

For more information and to register go here: http://bctri.com

The last race in the series takes place in Alamosa on October 17th. Registration information for this race is pending but you can register for the entire series here: https://greatsouthwesttriathlonseries.itsyourrace.com/register/

So if you want to try something new, or see a part of Colorado you haven’t seen, at least in while, check out these races or do them all!

A Lot More Than Meets the Eye at Tri in Alamosa–Cool Tie to Amelia Earhart and Farm That Built Pool

By Bill Plock

All races have a history, but the Splashland Triathlon in Alamosa, Colorado wouldn’t even be around if not for a few interventions of fate. It also has a connection to aviation legend, Amelia Mary Earhart—not to be confused with 9news personality, also a pilot, Amelia Rose Earhart. 

Lloyd “Butch” Jones Jr.–his dad greeted Amelia

In 1932 Amelia landed in the meadow next to the bike course that eventually passes through the Jones farm. Lloyd Jones greeted Amelia when she landed unannounced and helped her with accommodations and “guarded” her plane while she re-supplied in Alamosa. Somewhere presumably at the bottom of the Pacific ocean, Amelia’s plane rests with Leroy’s name and “Alamosa Colorado” autographed on it. But the farm hardly acts as just a backdrop for the race. 

The pool hosting the swim is filled by natural hot springs from a well on the farm.  This farm has been in the same family for over a 100 years. It’s now divided among the grandchildren of the original owners. Decades ago, they were drilling for oil and at about 2,500 feet down, instead of oil, they hit hot water. Long story sort of short, they made a pool.

Fast forward a few decades and a few refurbishments later to about 10 years ago when the race director Mike Bush couldn’t walk. He was confined to a wheelchair by a mysterious virus that crippled him. Mike grew up in Grand Junction and coincidently was offered a running scholarship at Adams State University (located in Alamosa) but decided to go to college in Greeley at the University of Northern Colorado. His wife is from Alamosa however, and they ended up moving there. Mike frequented the pool he now manages when he was unable to walk and found the warm water quite soothing from his ailment. 

Mike Bush in Yellow

Over time he regained his mobility and through a series of coincidences became manager of the hot springs pool. He wanted to improve access for people with disabilities. When he lived in Greeley he became fond of triathlons. So he decided to start one in Alamosa to raise money for equipment to make the pool more accessible. 

50 yard Hot Springs Pool

The Splashland Triathlon is part of the Southwestern Colorado Triathlon Series with races in Gunnison, Montrose and Los Alamos (NM). Because of COVID only the one in Alamosa happened this year. 

The Jones Farm and bike course

This race is unique in many ways with its high elevation of 7,500 feet, adjacency to the Sand Dunes, having the bike and run cut through a historic farm and its finish with a 400 yard swim in a warm pool.  With the race always in mid-october it’s often pretty chilly at the 9am start, so Mike decided to end the race with a swim in the 86 degree water. 

The finish line

Alamosa, in the heart of the San Luis Valley, is a great place to start many adventures with the Sangre Di Cristo Mountains to the East, the San Juan Mountains to the West, the Collegiate range to the North or as a getaway to the “Land of Enchantment,” a.k.a New Mexico, just to the South. 

Normally 303Triathlon is in Kona during mid-October, so we had to visit the Sand Dunes to get some barefoot in the sand feeling!