Highline’s chill greets triathletes

Triathletes finish the swimming section Sunday during the Desert’s Edge Triathlon at Highline Lake.

With the air temperature hovering under 40 degrees Sunday morning and the water temperature at Highline Lake State Park a comparatively balmy 61 degrees, the Desert’s Edge Triathlon was different than in previous years.

The final major triathlon of the year in Colorado that touts its typically warmer weather was undoubtedly cold.

But don’t tell that to Jim Tabery.

The 34-year-old University of Utah philosophy professor wore a jammer suit — tight spandex shorts — and no shirt for the near-mile long swimming portion of the triathlon, which had several cramping and cold swimmers in wetsuits pulled from the lake by staff in kayaks and boats.

Still, when Tabery lumbered out of Highline Lake, his whole body numb, he moved on to the biking portion of the triathlon.

“Once I rounded the farthest buoy, at the halfway point, my body started warming up and everything was OK,” Tabery said. “I couldn’t feel my feet, but everything was moving.

“The first 100 yards to 400 yards you’re hyperventilating. I mean, I don’t want people to think this is cool, it was stupid. It sucks the life out of you about five seconds in. But when I got to shore and got to the biking, it was like holy (cow) that’s behind me, and you’re ready to move on.”

Tabery finished 11th in the men’s 35-39 age division in the Olympic-distance triathlon.

The Desert’s Edge had two distances: the sprint triathlon (750-meter swim, 13.2-mile bike, 5K run) and the Olympic event (1,500-meter swim, 24.8-mile bike, 10K run).

Race organizer Darrin Eisman said they repeatedly measured water temperatures at Highline Lake in the days leading up to the race and although the air temperature was cold, the water temperature was similar to that of an early season triathlon in Denver.

“After the summer people are used to nice warm water, whereas after the winter people aren’t as timid about jumping right in,” Eisman said. “It’s mind over matter.”

Grand Junction triathlete Christopher Schroeder won the men’s sprint triathlon with a time of 1 hour, 11 minutes, 32 seconds.

Kevin Koch was the fastest local finisher in the men’s Olympic event. The Grand Junction triathlete finished 14th overall. Former Battle Mountain High School cross country-runner John O’Neill won the overall title in the men’s Olympic event in 1:59:54.

Steamboat Springs triathlete Heather Gollnick, a five-time Iron Man triathlon champion, won the women’s Olympic title by nearly four minutes, finishing in 2:24:22. Nadia Sullivan won the women’s sprint triathlon in 1:16:59.


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