Swim, bike, run!
Eagle Valley Enterprise
Vail, CO Colorado
Billy Kuhn wants you!
That is to say, the Gypsum Recreation Center fitness instructor wants anyone and everyone to try the town’s inaugural triathlon event on April 30.
“My objective is to get the whole community into a triathlon,” said Kuhn, the race organizer.
That’s why the Gypsum Triathlon is “sprint distance.” Additionally, it will be split into beginner, intermediate and advanced race divisions.
“Sprint distance” means the swimming, biking and running distances are shorter than the standard “Olympic distance,” which is a 1,500-meter swim, 24.9-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run. Comparatively, the famous Ironman Triathlon includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run.
The Gypsum Tri offers a beginner sprint-distance race – a 200-meter swim, 10-mile bike ride and one mile run. The intermediate distance is 300 meters, 13 miles and 21⁄2 miles. The advanced race is 500 meters, 16 miles and 31⁄2 miles.
“A triathlon is an ultimate endurance test,” Kuhn said. “To do it, your body has to learn to calm itself while burning a lot of energy. It’s all about being efficient.”
Scott Ruff, manager of the Gypsum Recreation Center, reiterated that Gypsum’s sprint-distance triathlon is very doable for anyone who might be curious.
“The beginner division is so basic; it’s set up for anyone who wants to give it a shot,” he said, adding that people can sign up individually or as teams. Ruff himself will be the running leg of the GRC Team.
Race entry costs $25 before April 30 and $40 on race day. Registrations will be accepted right up until the 7:30 a.m. race check-in, Ruff said. (See info box for more registration information.)
“We want as many people as possible to participate,” Ruff said.
Chris Murray is preparing for his first triathlon. The 41-year-old Eagle Ranch resident and father of three said his wife helped talk him into it.
“I’ve been a bike rider and swimmer, and I’ve always had an itch to do a triathlon,” Murray said.
Murray, an investment consultant who moved to Eagle in August, said outside responsibility pulled him away from his athletic goals in recent years. Lately, however, he and his wife have been training with Kuhn once a week. Murray saw the fliers for the triathlon, and Kuhn mentioned it to him, but his wife helped convince him.
“It was nice that she pushed me a little,” Murray said. “She’s done two marathons. It was great for our kids to see her set that goal, train all week long and finish it.”
As far as setting his own goals, Murray said he’s not yet even sure what race division he belongs in. He just wants to do it.
“I want to be fast and know that I gave it my all but I don’t want it to kill me,” he said.
“My ultimate goal in life is to have fun,” he said, joking. “Don’t tell anyone that last part.”
Kuhn – who grew up as an athlete and got to know Michael Jordan as a kid (his dad worked for the Chicago Bulls) – gets excited when he talks about setting goals.
He is an experienced triathlete, as well, and aims to help people set and realize their own ambitions. He’s been helping Murray and others to prepare for the Gypsum Tri.
“I’m very oriented toward helping people set and achieve goals and to realize how good it feels,” Kuhn said. “People assume that people like me are fitness freaks, but it’s still hard for me to get up and do that bike ride in the morning.”
Kuhn said sticking to a goal can be an emotional roller coaster but it is empowering when the objective is attained.
“You can break a three-year goal all the way down to tomorrow,” Kuhn said.
One of Kuhn’s goals is to develop a high-altitude training program in the area, and the upcoming triathlon is a step in that direction.
Some of what Kuhn covers in his triathlon-training class are the transitions between the swimming, biking and running. It takes strategy to get out of the water and onto a bike efficiently, and all that time counts in a tri.
“People tend to get confused in the transitions,” Kuhn said.
Other parts of the class cover other ways to be efficient in a race.
“Efficient – I use that word a lot,” Kuhn said. “For instance, when you’re riding a bike, many people only push down on the pedals, but you should use all your leg in that pedal stroke if you’re going to be running afterward. A lot of this is also for injury prevention.”
More triathlon classes for adults and children will be offered in the summer. The next session starts in June, and class size is limited to 12. For $69, participants receive five weeks of training.
Kuhn said an all-outdoor training program for women only, called Moxie Lady, will premiere this summer, as well.
Kuhn said he wants to build the Gypsum Tri into a regular event that will eventually attract visitors to the area.
“We’re kind of thinking bigger than our traditional programming with this,” Ruff said. “With our region, we could build this into something that draws people from out of town.”
Ruff pictures the Gypsum Tri as the kickoff event of its kind for the triathlon season.
“At the end of April, the ski hill is closing and people are sort of champing at the bit,” he said.
Ruff said the rec center has wanted to organize a triathlon for about three years.
“Now we have the manpower and (Kuhn) has the background,” he said.
Last year, Gypsum Rec debuted a triathlon for kids, which will return this year in Gypsum on June 11 and in Eagle on Aug. 20, Ruff said.
The next adult triathlon will be in Eagle on July 9.