Inaugural Olympic triathon has special interest to USC instructor

by | Aug 1, 2000 | News Articles

August, 2000 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi

Inaugural Olympic triathon has special interest to USC instructor

Multi-sport fans across America have just about been salivating for the first Olympic triathlon since it was approved five years ago, and that group undoubtedly includes George Dallam right here in our own backyard.

Dallam earns his bread in the world of academe as an exercise science instructor at the University of Southern Colorado, where he is about to begin his third year. He commutes from the Colorado Springs home he shares with his wife and 2-year-old son.

So what’s the big deal about Dallam, you ask?

Well, George just happens to have coached and/or is still working with some of the triathletes who will be competing for America in the Olympic triathlon Sept. 15 in Sydney, Australia. In fact, he was named USA Triathlon National Teams Coach in 1996 and has worked with and designed the training programs for many of the top U.S. triathletes.

“We worked with probably about the top 50 (U.S.) athletes, and 10 or 12 of them were the mainstays” of the program, Dallam said recently. Those included Hunter Kemper and Nick Radkewich, two of the three male triathletes who will be representing America in Sydney.

While he no longer holds that coaching position, Dallam still works with some of the top triathletes at the Olympic Training Center in the Springs, many of whom still use his programs or modifications of them. For example, he said he has been working with Kemper this summer to improve his swimming mechanics in hopes of increasing his medal chances in the upcoming Olympics.

Another of the triathletes he coached was Michelle Blessing, who now is the U.S. Olympic triathlon coach.

Under Dallam, the USA Triathlon Coaching Certification Program was launched in 1996 as part of the United States Olympic Committee’s goals for the long-range planning of athletes and coaching development. Hence, his efforts helped place major emphasis on the development of triathletes in America and has helped the U.S. become more competitive in world competitions.

One way is by recognizing some of the top young triathletes early and getting them into good training programs.

“We have a pretty good system for kids once they hit about 15 (years old),” Dallam noted. “We’re trying to capture the athletes early and encourage them to do triathlons in the summer.”

The existence of such a “system” is part of the reason why Pueblo’s Blake Ottersberg, who will be starting college this fall, attended an Olympic Center triathlon camp in California recently as he continues to pursue his dream of someday competing in the Olympics.

“That’s really the pipeline” for being recognized, said Dallam.

Now 41 years old, Dallam has been involved in exercise physiology his entire adult life and has his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in exercise science. He recently completed his dissertation on a running economy study for which Pueblo’s Michael Orendorff participated as a test subject.

Personally, Dallam doesn’t have much time to train, but he still finished eighth overall in the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon in Pueblo West that was held in May.

More Multi-sport notes

The Dorsey-Spitz kids of Pueblo are at it again. Ten-year-old Lauren won both her age division and overall honors in the junior division of the IronKids Triathlon held July 20 in Louisville, CO. Her 14-year-old brother Brendan was fifth overall among senior division boys. The senior distances included a 200-meter swim, 10-kilometer bike and 2,000-meter run. Brendan’s time was 34:51. The junior distances were half that of the senior division, and Lauren’s time was 22:33. U.S. Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper was on hand to schmooze and hang out with the kids. Kemper is a former IronKids participant. Lauren also took first in her age division and was sixth overall at the Fort Collins Kids Triathlon. She has qualified for nationals to be held in St. Louis over the Labor Day weekend … Since last month’s column, the site of the inaugural Harvest Moon Half-Ironman was moved from the John Martin Reservoir to the Aurora Reservoir. Event organizer Darrin Eisman said a shortage of local patrol officers was the reason for the move. The date of the event is still Sept. 10. For information, call (303) 527-1798 … Blake Ottersberg and Ryan-Dorsey Spitz finished 2-4 in the 14-19 age division of the Boulder MS Triathlon that included a 1.5K swim, 42K bike and 10K run. Blake’s time was 2:19:17 and Ryan’s was 2:23:29. Pros from all over the country participated. College student Patricia Orendorff of Pueblo also completed the event.

Running Notes

The location of the annual Spring Runoff may be changed next year because of heavy traffic at the North Side location. One possibility being discussed is using Dutch Clark Stadium as the base, with the races starting in the parking lot and finishing on the track below. This is just in the preliminary discussion stage, and many logistics still need to be worked out. Other sites that surface will be considered … Alamosa will bid goodbye to legendary running coach Joe Vigil on Aug. 12 when the High Altitude Challenge 5K race is held. Vigil will be moving out of state soon, but not before putting on a running clinic the Friday before the race … Runners signed up for either the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon later this month are from Pueblo, Pueblo West, Rye, Colorado City, Beulah, Westcliffe, Texas Creek, Cañon City, Salida and Buena Vista … The Hot to Trot 5K is returning to Pueblo after a one-year absence. It is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 24 in the Union Avenue area and is part of the Chili and Frijole Festival weekend … National running/writing guru Jeff Galloway will be in Denver on Sept. 17 for the Governor’s Cup race. I don’t have details yet but Galloway will speak either on the eve of the race or on race day … The River Trail Marathon and Half-Marathon scheduled for Oct. 8 will have company that weekend. The annual Taco Bell HARP Riverwalk 5K is scheduled the previous day to coincide with the grand opening of the Riverwalk.

Until next month, can someone please petition for some cooler weather?

Send thoughts and comments to Gary Franchi via e-mail at