Ottersberg steps to another level

by | Jun 1, 2001 | News Articles

June, 2001 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi

Ottersberg steps to another level

Those who have followed the local multi-sport scene for several years probably were not surprised that 19-year-old Puebloan Blake Ottersberg was the third overall finisher in last month’s Ordinary Mortals Triathlon. He’s done that before; in fact, he’s even finished second overall in the race. What was notable this year, though, was the way he did it.

A little background first.

Ottersberg was a national-caliber triathlete the past few years while attending Pueblo South High School. He has been a member of the junior national triathlon team the past three years, was the junior national champion in 1998 and has raced in two world championships in Montreal in ’99 and in Perth, Australia last year. In essence, he’s got the goods. All this time, though, you could say that the Achilles’ heel of his swim-bike-run efforts has been the run leg. His swimming has always been outstanding and his bike leg simply tremendous. His run, meanwhile, was merely good.

But a funny thing happened to Blake this past year, when he was a member of the University of Colorado triathlon team while completing his freshman year at CU. He became a runner, too.

And at the Ordinary Mortals, it showed. Blake’s 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) time of 18 minutes and 28 seconds was the best of any of the 357 finishers over the two days of the event. And this was on one of the toughest 5K courses anywhere, with the terrain a constant up-and-down roller coaster.

Ottersberg’s run enabled him to break the one-hour barrier in the Ordinary Mortals for the first time as he recorded an overall time of 59 minutes and 12 seconds. In comparison, his times the previous four years were 1:00:31 in 2000, 1:00:50 in 1999, 1:03:25 in 1998 and 1:03:4 in 1997. His run-leg times the previous three years were 20:09, 21:11 and 22:13.

To him, the key has been the quality of training and concentrating more on his running, with workouts in the mountains above the city of Boulder, and more “fartlek” speed workouts.

“Things are coming together and I had a good winter base,” he said, noting, though, that he had to take five weeks off with a knee injury. Training daily with top triathletes and in an area like Boulder hasn’t hurt.

“Just the atmosphere there, the community is so beautiful it’s not hard to get motivated,” he said. “Sometimes I get in the water and swimming next to me is someone like Tim DeBoom (a world-class Ironman triathlete).”

The thing to understand about CU is that it is probably the nation’s premier triathlon school, annually attracting some of the best U.S. triathletes, many of whom graduate to the pro ranks after college.

Ottersberg has had an incredible spring of competition after spending spring break at national team training camps in San Diego and the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

In April, he competed in two Olympic-distance triathlons in Florida: the St. Anthony’s in St. Petersburg and the Pan Am Games in Clermont, where he was third among U.S. junior elite athletes. Those two performances got him invited to the U.S.-Japan Amakusa triathlon in Hondo City, Japan, where he finished first among the U.S. juniors and second among all U.S. finishers with a time of 2 hours flat. That also earned him a trip to the International Triathlon Union World Championships on July 22 in Edmonton, Canada.

From there he went to upstate New York for a “tri” in Lake Placid, where he was second among the juniors. On tap this week is a talent identification camp at the OTC in Colorado Springs. There will be tuneup triathlons and road races as Ottersberg preps for the World Championships.

Competing in a future Olympics remains a dream for him, and the key will be continuing to improve. Judging by his recent performances, the dream could someday become reality.

The decision to expand the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon to two days from one day proved to be a wise one. The fields for both the women’s race on May 19 and the men’s race the following day were almost completely filled. The two-day format was adopted because, in past years, scores of triathletes had to be turned away after the one-day race quota had filled very early.

Congratulations to Pueblo’s Maddy Tormoen for being the first overall woman finisher in the Horsetooth Half-Marathon in Fort Collins on April 21 with a time of 1 hour, 27 minutes and 56 seconds. This past weekend, Tormoen was the first female finisher in the Garden of the Gods 10-mile run in a time of 1:05.02.

Tormoen also was the first Pueblo female finisher in the Bolder Boulder 10K with a time of 38:25. The top-finishing Pueblo male in the Bolder was Dick LeDoux in 34:34.

Some of you who have been around for a while may remember the Moonlight Madness race that was held several years ago on the University of Southern Colorado campus. Well, the spirit of that race will be rekindled on June 30, when the Southern Colorado Runners will conduct a new version of the Moonlight Madness, a 5-mile Prediction Series race.

This club race will take place at 8:30 p.m. at 3685 Verde Road off Exit 87 south of Pueblo (four miles east of I-25). The date was selected to correspond with a full moon. This is a low-key event that has no entry fee, no T-shirts, no frills. Although a club race, non-SCR runners are invited. Since a potluck dinner will follow the race, the SCR asks all participants to bring a food item that can be shared.

In case you had some pipe dream of still getting into the Pikes Peak Marathon on Aug. 19, forget it. Both the regular field and the list of alternate slots have been filled.

Upcoming area races

Entry forms for all local races can usually be found in the inside foyer at the YMCA in downtown Pueblo and just inside the second front entrance door at the Gold Dust Saloon on Union Avenue. If you can’t find forms at either of those locations, call the respective race’s director at the number listed below.

* June 30 Moonlight Madness (Prediction Series race), 5M, 8:30 p.m., 3685 Verde Road – Exit 87, four miles east. (561-3343)
* July 7 Womens Distance Festival, 5K run/walk, 8 a.m., Pueblo City Park. (564-6043)
* July 21 Pioneer 5K Run/Walk, 7 a.m., Colorado City Community Center. (676-3353)
* Aug. 4 Beulah Challenge, 10K run and 5K walk, 8 a.m., Beulah School. (485-3820)

See ya next month.

Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at