A full-course challenge

Kloser wins 6th-straight Steamboat Pentathlon local Zambrana finishes first for women

— For Betsy Kalmeyer, Saturday morning was about transitions.

In less than three hours, Kalmeyer changed from Alpine skiing to snowshoeing to cross country skiing to mountain biking to running, as she participated in the 11th annual Steamboat Pentathlon.

But under the blue skies that had been storming the day before, the most notable transition Kalmeyer made was the shift from sports seasons.

"It represents the transition from winter to summer," Kalmeyer said of the pentathlon, which includes Steamboat's favorite winter pastime of skiing and its favorite summer activity of mountain biking.

The 40-year-old ultra marathon runner from Steamboat placed second in the female division with a time of 2 hours, 38 minutes and 18 seconds.

Despite competing in the pentathlon for almost a decade, the first-place spot that was captured by Steamboat's Katherine Zambrana this year, still eludes Kalmeyer.

"I just wanted to have a really good workout and have some fun," Kalmeyer said.

Even with a shaky start, Zambrana managed to outpace Kalmeyer by almost 15 minutes to earn first place in the female standard course division with a time of 2:23:52. Zambrana said she had trouble with the 400-foot vertical climb up Howelsen Hill and fell on the ski race down the expert run.

"The sprint up (was the hardest)," Zambrana said. "At that point, I was not sure if I was going to make it. And then I fell on the ski down."

Zambrana managed to grab on to the lead in the 2.5 mile snowshoe leg and maintained it for the duration of the race. Competing in the pentathlon since 1999, the 25-year-old has alternated first and second place for four years. Last year, she came in second to Kerry Barnholt.

"I wasn't sure how much (Kalmeyer) was training," Zambrana said. "But I just took a week off and hydrated. That helped. It's what works for me."

For the sixth straight year, Mike Kloser of Vail captured the overall title in the pentathlon with a time of 2:02:03. Kloser finished four minutes ahead of his closest competitor, Ben Zambrana, who is Katherine's bother.

After winning his fifth race last year, Kloser said he was questioning if he should return to Steamboat to defend the title and risk being dethroned.

"I just love this event," Kloser said. "I like the competition. I enjoy the transitions. It's a good race."

Kloser, who is also an Eco Challenge racer, maintained the lead since the second leg the 2.5mile snowshoe race. But, he said he really separated himself from the competition during the 5-mile cross country skiing portion of the race.

"In the Nordic skiing, it really started to disseminate," Kloser said. "I skied well and had a good wax on. In the second lap, I had the opportunity to pull ahead without over-exerting myself."

Zambrana held off Rich Hager in the final leg, the 5-mile run, to take second place. Unlike his sister, Ben Zambrana said this was his first time competing in the pentathlon.

"It was extremely hard; just transitioning from one sport to the next is hard," Zambrana said.

The knowledge that Hager was trailing him to the finish line made the run the hardest part of the course, Zambrana said. While Zambrana maintained his place behind Kloser throughout the race, he said his strongest leg was the 12-mile bike ride.

Zambrana finished the standard course with a time of 2:06:34, and Hager followed with a time of 2:06:53, which gave him a third-place finish two years in a row.

With just four cross country outings under his belt, Travis Macy turned in the fastest time in the pentathlon short course. Despite his lack of Nordic experience, the 19-year-old from Evergreen had the endurance to turn in a time of 1:21:09, more than seven minutes faster than his competitors.

Macy said he might move up to the standard course next year.

"It depends on how much cross country skiing I get in before than," he said. "I don't have too much cross country skiing experience. I didn't think I was ready for skiing five miles yet."

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