Cortez Triathlon: Burst or bust

By Ian MacLaren Journal staff writer

Pull out your swimsuit, air up your bike tires and dust off your running shoes. For the fourth consecutive year, the Cortez Burst Triathlon is offering athletes the opportunity to kick the Fourth of July off with a bang.

Beginning at the Cortez Municipal Pool, competitors will take a swim in some brisk water before venturing into Cortez and the surrounding area for a bike and run.

“This is a great opportunity to get outside, enjoy a beautiful pool and experience the beauty of the Southwest Colorado,” said Rayna Hale, president of the Friends of Recreation. “This really is a great event.”

Started in 2010 by the Friends of Recreation for the purpose of raising money to promote healthy living and fitness in Cortez, the Burst Triathlon has grown from about 20 participants in 2010 to about 85 participants in 2012. Burst organizers are hoping to attract around 120 participants this year.

“We have real timing bracelets, and we have professional timers coming in,” said Hale. “We’re hoping to be like a big marathon someday. We want the entire community, as well as lots competitors from out of town, to be involved.”

One of the unique aspects of the Cortez Burst is that unlike many triathlons, there is a spot for everyone. Age groups include divisions for 4- and 5-year-olds, 6-10, 11-14 and a recreational division and competitive division for adults. Course lengths for the different divisions vary and are age appropriate. Competitors can also form teams of two or three if the thought of competing solo is overwhelming. For those unable to find team members willing to swim, swimmers can be “purchased.”

“We don’t want people to be afraid of the word ‘triathlon,’” said Hale. “It’s fun, and we want it to be something that anyone can do.”

“It’s a super friendly place for somebody who has never done anything like this before,” added Jeff Weinmeister, a triathlete who has previously competed in the Burst. “It’s not like some of these other races in the area that are super competitive. It’s very friendly, and you see people there that you might not expect.”

Best of all, the Burst Triathlon is set up to benefit the Cortez community.

“I think this event helps get the community involved in a more healthy lifestyle,” said Weinmeister. “Events like this also bring people to Cortez and help stimulate the economy.”

“Proceeds raised by the event are used to provide income-qualified individuals with scholarships to the recreation center,” Hale added. “We have also decided to use the money we raise to help with day camps, gymnastics and other fitness-related scholarships for families.”

Those interested in signing up for the Cortez Burst Triathlon can access information online at

Any questions about training, equipment or race logistics, can be answered by race director Sensa Wolcott or Hale. Wolcott can be reached at (970) 903-9882 and Hale can be reached at (970) 560-3916.

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