25th running of annual triathlon is Saturday
Mar 03, 2010 | 941 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Athletes will strap on ski goggles, bicycle helmets and running shoes on March 6 for the 25th annual running of the Blue Mountain Triathlon. A winter of heavy snowfall necessitates a number of changes in this year’s event, which will take place in a new location.

All three legs in the annual race will begin and end at the Hideout Golf Club in Monticello, including a four-mile cross country ski race, a 20-mile bicycle race to Devil’s Canyon and back, and a 5.5-mile foot race to Loyds Lake and back.

Spectators will be able to have a good view of the race along the course and at the golf course clubhouse. Racing begins at 10 a.m.

Building the triathlon has been a quarter century of work by Monticello City Recreation Director Eddie Allred and a host of volunteers.

Allred suspects that the number of racers may be down this year, primarily because of several months of wintery weather. It is hard to get ready for a triathlon in these conditions.

In addition, racers have expressed concerns about muddy conditions on the Montezuma Canyon road, where portions of the race took place in 2009.

“It is simply too muddy to race on bicycles and then on foot in Montezuma Canyon,” said Allred. “I explored having all three legs in Indian Creek Canyon, but think that staging the entire race at the Hideout is the best alternative.”

Allred said that many things have changed in the past 25 years. “When we first started, I would guess about 40 percent of the athletes were local residents. Now, it is about ten percent.”

A host of world class athletes have participated in the annual race, which is the only regularly-scheduled triathlon in the country that begins with a leg on cross country skis instead of in a large body of water. Athletes in the race have gone on to win world championships and compete in the Olympic games.

For 23 years, the race began at Dalton Springs and finished at the Dugout Ranch, near the mouth of Canyonlands National Park. Concerns about the safety of bicyclists on busy Highway 191 north of Monticello caused a change in 2009 to a course that ends in Montezuma Canyon.

The race has faced a shortage of snow a number of years, but never had to be cancelled because of not enough snow. “We cut it close a couple of times, but the snow was always there when we needed it,” said Allred.

The race was canceled twice in the past 25 years because of blizzard conditions and too much snow.

Allred is planning to retire in coming months and enjoy a move to Arizona to be closer to children and grandchildren.

“I’ve had the job of my dreams,” said Eddie, who studied recreation management in college and moved back home to Monticello in the hopes that an opportunity would open up. He first ran recreation programs for San Juan County and then for the City of Monticello.

“I ran programs throughout San Juan County for many years, but when the Commission turned recreation programs over to the cities, I ended up as an employee of the City.”

For a number of years, Allred split his time between the City of Monticello and Monticello Elementary School, where he ran physical education programs in the school during the school year and community programs during the summer.

The city job eventually evolved into a full time endeavor. In addition to the triathlon, Allred has been involved in a host of recreation programs and events. He helped start the Hillman Triathlon and the Blue Mountain Bike Chase. Probably the biggest success has been the Blue Mountain Invitational Fast Pitch Softball Tournament, an annual highlight to the Pioneer Day celebration in Monticello.

The softball tournament has grown from a tournament that consisted of primarily local teams to an event that draws teams from throughout the state and the Four Corners region.

The city recreation programs totaled five or six baseball teams when Allred started. Now there are dozens of youth and adult teams in programs such as baseball, softball, soccer and football. Successful programs with city involvement are also available for wrestling and volleyball fans.

Allred demurred when asked to name the best athlete he has worked with over a 35-year career. He simply said that he always wanted to support “the little guy”. “My programs were not about building great athletes or the high school teams,” he said. “I simply want kids to have a good experience, regardless of the level of their talent.”

Allred talks about the friendships he has developed when discussing the highlights of his career. “So many people have worked and volunteered and that is my best memory,” he said.

With a new swimming pool set to open this summer and the triathlon marking its 25th anniversary, Allred said that the recreation programs are ready to move to the next level. “We have come a long way and it is great to see things in good shape for the future,” he said.
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