Ordinary Mortals Triathlon Popular as Low-Key Event

by | May 1, 2005 | News Articles

May, 2005 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi


Ordinary Mortals Triathlon Popular as Low-Key Event

What started as a low-key, fun event 14 years ago in Pueblo West will be renewed this weekend as, well, still a wonderful, low-key and fun event.

But while the Pueblo YMCA Ordinary Mortals Triathlon had a mere 30 individuals and five teams competing in its inaugural 1992 race, this year’s event will have close to 400 entries. It also is now split into two days by gender, with Saturday showcasing females and Sunday being the men’s race.

The race site is the Pueblo Regional Center in Pueblo West, with the starting time 6:45 a.m. both days. It includes a 525-meter swim, 12-mile bike leg and a hilly 3-mile run.

The OM is the only triathlon held in this area, with the Drag’n On In Triathlon at the reservoir and the Back Country mountain bike event at the university both now ancient history. It originally was the brainchild of Michael Orendorff, by far still Pueblo’s premier triathlete today at the age of 53.

Orendorff was its race director for four years before turning it over Ben Valdez of the YMCA when the race was becoming bigger and requiring more time than Mike could devote to it. Valdez and the YMCA were the perfect vehicles to carry on Mike’s dream.

Over the years, Valdez, a 24-year employee of the YMCA, has been around the block more than a few times as a race director of many different running and multi-sport events, so he’s superb at attending to every detail. That includes getting sponsors like Pepsi for liquid refreshment (Sobe) and the Hampton Inn (discount to racers), arranging to have the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy members on hand after the race, securing the support of the Pueblo West Fire Department and the Pueblo West Metro District, getting 4,500 brochures printed and Cool-Max T-shirts ordered, etc.

But he is quick to say that it also requires a village of 40 volunteers each day to conduct the OM. He also points out that it is Orendorff whose behind-the-scene, organizational work makes this truly a quality event.

Orendorff created the user-friendly Ordinary Mortals website and handles the input of all registrants, eventually assigning them to lanes and heats for the swim leg based on their predicted times for the 525-meter swim.

His work doesn’t stop on the day of the races, either. Mike also handles the results both days even though he actually will be competing in the men’s race (and will be one of its top finishers).

“He is amazing and he does an awesome job,” said Valdez matter-of-factly.

Orendorff juggles all these responsibilities while also training for premier endurance races such as the Ironman Canada that he will be attempting in August.

Spectators are welcome to come out and cheer on the triathletes. And, yes, if you want to help out as a volunteer, just show up on race morning and Ben will find something for you to do.


The Pueblo area was well represented in the Old Town Marathon and Half-Marathon in Fort Collins on May 8, and for one runner is was particularly significant. Valdez, 45, realized his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon by running a strong 3:26:30, well under the 3:30 standard he needed. Other Pueblo finishers were Chief Reno, 43, 3:38:41; Gregory Berryman, 45, 4:31:50; Mitch Hight, 44, 4:43:48; and Wendy Garrison, 38, 4:51:54. Allen Weaver, 52, of Canon City finished in 3:54:21.

The area also had several half-marathon finishers, with Marv Bradley, 65, of Canon City taking first in the 65-69 age division with a speedy 1:38:06 time. Bradley was coming off three April marathons – the Country Music in Nashville where he ran a 4:23, the New Jersey where he clocked a 4:11 and the Yakima (Wash.) River Canyon where he recorded a 4:24. Cheryl Cook-McCoy of Salida also did New Jersey (6:04) and Yakima (6:02).

Vicki Meier, 36, of Canon City was fifth in her age division and among the leading female finishers in the Salt Lake City (Utah) Marathon on April 23 with a speedy 3:32 time. That also qualified Vicki for her second trip to Boston, should she decide to go.


The annual Custer County Run in the Valley, originally scheduled for May 28, has been canceled this year. It is hoped that the race, a fund raiser for a planned recreation center in Westcliffe, will return to the racing calendar next year with a new race director.

Professor Honored

USA Triathlon certified coach George Dallam, Assistant Professor in the Department Of Exercise Science and Health Promotion at Colorado State University-Pueblo, recently was a finalist for the prestigious U.S. Olympic Committee’s “Doc” Councilman Award.

The award recognizes a coach who utilizes scientific techniques and equipment as an integral part of his or her coaching methods, or has created innovative ways to use sport science. Students in Dallam’s exercise physiology classes have been active participants in both research projects and applied hyperoxic training sessions at the Olympic Training Center Sports Science and Technology laboratory in Colorado Springs.

Joe Vigil of USA Track and Field and the former cross country coach at Adams State College went on to win the award.

Upcoming Area Races

  • Saturday – Ordinary Mortals Women’s Triathlon, 525mtr swim, 12M bike, 3M run, 6:45 a.m., Pueblo Regional Center in Pueblo West (543-5151).
  • Sunday – Ordinary Mortals Men’s Triathlon, 525mtr swim, 12M bike, 3M run, 6:45 a.m., Pueblo Regional Center in Pueblo West (543-5151).
  • June 4 – Run for Rio, 5K, 8 a.m., Rye High School (859-5136).
  • June 4 – Little Run on the Prairie, 5K run/2K walk, 8 a.m., Lovell Park in Pueblo West (821-5463).
  • June25 – Belmont Butt Busters (Prediction Series race), 5M, 8 a.m., 1318 Horseshoe Drive (542-5148).
  • July 2 – Women’s Distance Festival, 5K run/walk, 7:30 a.m., Pueblo City Park (676-7343).
  • July 23 – Pioneer Run, 5K run/walk, 7 a.m., Hollydot Golf Course in Colorado City (676-3353).
  • July 23 – Moonlight Madness Run (Prediction Series race), 5M, 8 p.m., 3685 Verde Rd. (676-7343).

Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at gfranchi@ghvalley.net.

Return to Gary Franchi’s running and fitness writings index page.