STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald photos
STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald photos
Fort Lewis College professor Steve Stovall planned to scarf down some unusual fare Saturday night.
After finishing his eighth consecutive Durango Parks and Recreation Triathlon on a warm and sunny Saturday morning at the recreation center, the 71-year-old Stovall had one two-course meal in mind:
“It’s beer and ibuprofen for dinner (Saturday night)!” this year’s oldest competitor shouted in the parking lot.
Stovall, who teaches marketing in FLC’s College of Business, has taken on the annual local triathlon every year since missing the first because of surgery. Along with about 80 people, Stovall pushed himself through the sprint triathlon’s 500-yard swim, 13-mile road bike and five-kilometer run – a progression that “goes from worse to good” for Stovall, a self-labelled runner.
He finished Durango’s in 1 hour, 34 minutes, 19 seconds.
“I’m feeling all my 71 years,” Stovall said, mustache bristling with burdened breathing at the finish.
“Oh man, I feel like I’m 72 maybe.”
“Hey, to be 71 and to be able to say you’re a triathlete, hey, I’ll take it.”
But if it’s a little-bit of can-do ego that pushes Stovall through the paces, Durango’s Laura Shelton upped the ante Saturday – and she did it for her kids.
With two daughters working through long-haul rehabilitation from damaging accidents and a baby born premature by emergency delivery two years ago, the Shelton family is no stranger to tragedy.
But it’s no stranger to perserverence, either, Shelton said, and watching her children labor through their personal challenges inspired her to take on one of her own: her first triathlon.
“The power of perserverence,” Shelton, a former DHS swimmer and FLC alumnus, said. “I watched my kids persevere.”
“I’m just doing it for my kids,” she said before hopping into the recreation center pool.
Shelton, 33, finished in 1:49.25.
Just more than a half-hour earlier, it was 30-year-old Meagan Johnson who won the women’s race, clocking a time of 1:11.26.
A local, this year was Johnson’s first Durango Parks and Recreation Triathlon, but she said it won’t be her last.
The combination of the competition and vocal, supportive community made the race fun, she said, and good training for her upcoming big event: Iroman Cozumel.
“Just the transitions (between stages) and finding your flow is super important,” Johnson said.
Lauren Taylor, last year’s winner, was second in 1:12.36, followed by Nicole Stone at 1:15.09.
Casey Taylor, Lauren’s sister, was fourth in 1:15.33 to meet their “Taylor-sister, top-10” goal.
“I couldn’t make my goal first (place) because last year was ridiculous,” Lauren Taylor said before Casey cruised in. “It’s just a fun goal to have.”
Casey Taylor said it wasn’t too hard to hit, either.
“It just goes fast because you’re (shifting) from one thing to the next,” Casey Taylor said.
Men’s winner Rob Gram made the most of those transitions, flying barefoot into the staging area to transition from cycling to running to shave off some time.
“It sounds stupid, but a few seconds here or there sometimes makes the difference,” Gram said.
On Saturday, the seconds didn’t matter much for Gram, who won in 1:03.11, more than two minutes ahead of second place Graham Robinson, who finished in 1:05.22.
Paul Sanders was third in 1:10.99.
Saturday’s race was the fourth triathlon of the summer for Gram, who said he likes the triathlon format because “it’s not just a swimming race ... it’s nice, it evens it all out” depending on which event is any given competitor’s forte.
And with dozens of friends and family crowding the pool edges and fences around the course, Shelton said the community should encourage anyone to give the short triathlon a try.
“I think a lot of people are intimidated that you have to be really good at it,” Shelton said.
But if they were to come and watch, “they’d realize it’s just a good community workout.”