Over the past nine years, the Cortez Burst Triathlon has grown into one of the Four Corners area’s most popular triathlons, thanks to its course and its community atmosphere.
Nearly 100 athletes competed in this year’s Burst, which took place on July 4 and included a swim in Cortez’s Municipal Pool, a bike ride along a course with views of Mesa Verde, and a run through Carpenter Recreational Area.
Sixty individuals finished the Adult Sprint Triathlon, and 10 children between the ages of 6 and 14 competed individually in age-specific classifications. Several teams also competed in the annual event, which race director Kevin Mullikin described as one of the most unique events in the area.
“The Burst showcases everything about Cortez’s park system,” Mullikin said. “We have the best pool in a four-state region. You get to run through some of the best city parks, and you get to ride up into the countryside and see all of Mesa Verde. You get a nice snap shot of all of the beauty in Cortez.”
Among the many finishers in this year’s event was Jason Dunlap, who arrived in Cortez after taking a job at Osprey Packs. A longtime triathlete and first-time competitor in the Burst, Dunlap praised race organizers for putting on what he described as a great event.
“I used to do triathlons, and our marketing at (Osprey) sent us a message saying that we had some free entries,” said Dunlap, who finished second overall in the men’s division. “It was a couple of weeks away, and I hadn’t swam or ran in a while, but I had been biking, so I decided to come out and do it. I loved supporting the great cause.”
The cause to which Dunlap was referring was the Friends of Recreation, a local nonprofit organization that raises money to provide Cortez Recreation Center passes to young people in the community.
Proceeds raised through the Burst Triathlon go directly to Friends of Recreation, which leans heavily on volunteers to carry out its cause. More than 30 volunteers at this year’s Burst directed traffic along the course while assisting athletes with equipment adjustments and other logistical needs.
“The Burst wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have any volunteers,” Mullikin said. “People are out there directing traffic and making the race nice and safe for the athletes, as well as for the motorists.”
Among the top finishers in this year’s adult event were Philip Hackbarth, who finished first overall in the men’s division with a time of 1 hour, 8 minutes, 17 seconds. Heather Hoechst took top honors in the women’s division with a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes, 14 seconds.
Team Neale finished first in the Adult Team Division with a time of 1 hour, 32 minutes, 41 seconds, and 14-year-old Anissa Allred was the top child with a time of 36 minutes, 44 seconds.
For the first time this year, the Burst is officially part of the four-race Southwest Colorado Triathlon Series, which includes events in Gunnison, Montrose and Alamosa. Points are awarded to finishers in each of the four races, and at the end of the series, an overall series champion will be crowned.
By the conclusion of this year’s Burst event, smiles could be seen on the faces of nearly every individual who competed, and the vast majority of competitors indicated that they would compete again next year.
“Cortez is just a very active community, and this race gets bigger and bigger every year,” said Arista Feldhauser, a Montezuma-Cortez High School graduate who lives in Denver. “I like that (the race) is on Fourth of July in the early morning. This is my fourth year, and I plan to keep coming back to compete every year.”