Still a Couple of Triathlons in Colorado in October

By Bill Plock

The Last Call Triathlon at Boyd Lake near Loveland was the last triathlon along the front range but there are still a couple of opportunities to race in Montrose and Alamosa. The Black Canyon Triathlon (Montrose) October 2nd and the Splashland Triathlon (Alamosa) October 19th are still on the calendar. These are pool based triathlons and in Alamosa the pool is a hot springs–and the swim is last.

With fall colors peaking in the high country, a trip to either venue will be full of color and adventure. We caught up with Montrose resident Julie Burdick who participates in all of the Southwestern Triathlon Series triathlons to learn more. As a busy mom of twins and recovering from Covid, she is looking forward to this week’s triathlon more than ever.

About Julie

I live in Montrose, and I teach swim lessons at the Montrose Community Rec. Center, and will begin lifeguarding next week.  What I like most about living here is the nice climate, the many different outdoor activities I can do in the mountains, lower elevation areas and the reservoirs, and the many sunny days that we as Coloradans are able to get outside to enjoy them.  What I like most about teaching swim lessons is interacting with the kids and watching them blossom into little swimmers.  It’s very rewarding.  

How did you get into triathlon?

I think my first triathlon was the Black Canyon Triathlon, here in Montrose, back in 2004.  I spent the summer training and actually did well.  I decided that I would like to do it again the following year. I was raising young twins during that time, so I couldn’t always commit to triathlon training in the summers. When the twins were of high school age, I really delved into the sport.  It was the summer of 2018 that I noticed the Series, and athletes being recognized at the last triathlon of the season, which back then was in Montrose.  I decided that the following summer I would commit to training and complete the whole series.  So in 2019, I did that.  Los Alamos, Gunnison, Montrose, and Alamosa.  I loved them all.  

Covid took away the triathlons for all of us in 2020.  I contracted covid also, so my training took a big back seat.  I am happy to be back this year.  I look forward to training longer distances someday and completing Olympic distance triathlons.  My goal is to someday complete a half-iron man. My biggest obstacle now is finding the time to do the training that that would require.  But that is my goal.

What do you love most the series?

 What I love most about doing the series is having that next event to look forward to, keeping on with the training, seeing the people I’ve met in triathlon again at the next event, encouraging each other and sharing our stories of races and training, and the general camaraderie between us all. I’m always inspired by the many different people who do triathlon; their different ages, body shapes, athleticism, backgrounds, from kids to senior citizens, it’s a very beautiful and inspiring thing.  Triathlon is for everyone, I see that at every event, and it makes me happy.  

Tell us about each event?

Highlights about each event?  Well, let’s see.  I think for Los Alamos, it was the crazy steep hill on the bike course that everyone was complaining about, and the scenery there was beautiful.  Gunnison has great people and even though the run is longer, it’s a really nice run course through a park and I enjoy the hot dogs!  Montrose, my hometown, I think has the nicest pool facility and before covid, there were free 10-minute massages for the athletes after the race, I loved that.  Alamosa it’s the hot springs pool where the swim takes place.  When you get there in the morning, it’s quite cold because of the time of year and it’s early morning.  The steam rises off the pool outside and it’s just lovely.  It’s also a backward triathlon, which is different and keeps things interesting and fun and knocks you a bit out of your comfort zone.  Run, bike, swim.  

How as the Black Canyon Triathlon affected the Community?

In Montrose, I have seen the Black Canyon Triathlon affect the community in such a positive manner.  The general energy at the event is always very exciting and a bit festive.  There are kids who are excited to be doing the race, whether they are racing as individuals or on teams.  Their energy in infectious.  The parents are always so proud and supportive and helping them through the transition areas and sometimes even accompanying them out on the bike route to keep them on track and encourage them.  I always hear bystanders, who are affected by all the positive energy, wondering if maybe they could do it next year.  I see a lot of sparked interest, and I think that’s mostly because they see that not everyone has to be a top world class athlete to do a triathlon. It’s something that is achievable.  Some people are intimidated by the swimming.  But when they see that there are people swimming in the triathlon who are not great swimmers and they are doing whatever it takes to get those ten laps done (doggy paddling, backstroke, taking rests), they aren’t as intimidated by it anymore.  Some people aren’t runners, but that’s okay, too.  You can walk as much as you like and it still counts!  

Why should someone from the front range make the trip?

I would tell someone on the front range to check out the Western Slope for triathlon and the Series because it’s beautiful here!  It’s quiet, peaceful, less traffic, beautiful views and countryside, pretty laid back!  It’s real nice.  We have nice courses, too.  And nice people.  🙂 

How has the series impacted you the most?

Doing the series, and triathlon in particular, has had a big impact on me.  It gives me goals, a reason to get out there and swim, bike and run.  I feel better physically, mentally and emotionally when I am healthy and fit and the combination of swim, bike and run keeps things from getting monotonous.  Just when you get tired of swim training, you can get on your bike, or go for a run.  I just feel so much better when I’m active.  Doing the series keeps me going all summer.  I love it.  And I love the hoodie we get for completing the Series.  I wear it with pride.  

Register for the Black Canyon Triathlon Here:

Register for the Alamosa Triathlon HERE:

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.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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!