Puls has no peers when it comes to planning ahead

by | May 1, 2000 | News Articles

May, 2000 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi

Puls has no peers when it comes to planning ahead

Being the compulsive souls that they are, runners – and other competitive athletes for that matter – are always training for something.

If you hang around them very much, you’ll inevitably hear runners talking about all kinds of upcoming races. Early in the year they’re discussing the Spring Runoff, then the Bolder Boulder, this year the Steamboat Marathon in June, the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half-Marathon in early August, etc. The hard core are always talking about “Pikes Peak” (ascent or round trip), held in mid- to late-August, since those tend to satisfy the somewhat masochistic tendencies that competitive runners possess.

They’re always planning, calculating the training, figuring out how to put in the miles and work on the speed without getting the injuries that are so prevalent.

The routine is a tad different for duathletes and triathletes, whose goal setting is more refined because of the limited number of available races. Their challenge is to do the necessary training in their respective disciplines (biking, running, swimming) in order to peak when the events take place.

When it comes to planning, though, Pueblo’s Gerald Puls is on a different plane. Puls is a multi-sport athlete who not only has this year’s events all laid out but is already looking ahead to 2001, 2002 and 2003.

His 2000 schedule started with the Las Vegas Marathon he did in February. After the Y-Bi Classic Duathlon on Sunday will be the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon and the Keauhou Half-Ironman in Kona, Hawaii in May, followed by the Longmont Triathlon and the Muskoka Triathlon in Huntsville, Canada in June. Then there’s the Fort Collins Sprint Triathlon in July, and triathlons in Boulder and Utah in early August leading up to the Ironman Canada on Aug. 27, where he hopes to qualify for his ninth Hawaii Ironman.

Personally, I’m getting tired just thinking about that schedule.

Oh, he also was selected by lottery drawing for the “Ride the Rockies” bicycle tour, which will cover 458 miles over seven days in June. At this time, he isn’t certain he will do it because of published threats against cyclists that have been made by truckers. However he is planning to ride in a couple of shorter multi-day bicycle tours in Colorado in June.

To expand his world travels, Puls is already planning to do a full Ironman in Spain next year, an Ironman in New Zealand in 2002 and another in Australia in 2003. Just think of the flight mileage he’s going to rack up!

The Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon run (26.2 miles). Those distances obviously are not for the casual athlete. But Gerald has competed in 17 of them (nine Ironman Canada races in addition to the eight Hawaii Ironmans).

As you may have gathered, Gerald is a unique breed.

He also is 74 years old. And coming off a stress fracture he suffered below his right knee in the Las Vegas Marathon. The injury forced him to make a rare admission relative to his age.

“When I was 17, I’d heal from something like this in two weeks. Now it takes two months,” Puls said recently.

Gerald was a submariner in World War II and then a physician in Fort Collins before retiring in 1987. Three months later he took up running for something to do and as a way to burn some calories.

“I was big and fat and it wasn’t any fun,” he explained.

Soon afterward he learned to swim, which he says was “the hardest thing to do,” and, with the biking leg thrown in, a new career as a triathlete was born. He started competing in 1988 and he hasn’t stopped yet. His normal routine is to train between three and three and a half hours a day, five days a week.

“It’s great to be fit and have something fun to do,” Puls reasoned.

He and his wife, Elaine, moved to Pueblo two years ago to be close to their son, Ted, a physician in Pueblo, and grandkids. Since she travels with her husband to his many triathlons, though, you could call Pueblo the home base for the many excursions they make to Gerald’s events.

Might Puls be thinking at all about when he might give up the chase?

Fat chance. As Gerald puts it, “Staying fit is a preventive medicine and the rewards are just so great.”

Chihuahua runners returning

A contingent of seven runners from Chihuahua, Mexico will be making the trip to Pueblo this week to compete in the annual Cinco de Mayo 10-kilometer race (6.2 miles) that is scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday at the Colorado State Fairgrounds. Hilbert Navarro, a member of the Southern Colorado Runners, is coordinating the visitors’ stay in Pueblo, including arranging housing for them in a number of local homes.

Making the trip to Pueblo is considered a prestigious honor to the Chihuahua runners, and they vie for that right through races held in their homeland. Hence, Puebloans get to see the cream of their crop.

In an amazing race last year, two Chihuahua runners ran neck and neck the last 100 yards to the finish line, missed the finish chute, and crossed the extended line next to the chute with identical 32:15 times. Even the volunteers working at the finish couldn’t determine who had won. Priscilla Portillos, bless her heart, can speak Spanish, and she saved the day by asking the two runners which one had finished first.

Because the Cinco de Mayo course traverses many streets on Pueblo’s South Side, many course marshals are used in the race, and volunteer helpers are still needed. If you don’t plan to run the race and can help work it, please call Race Directors Tim and Rita Vigil at 562-1342.

Ordinary Mortals field filled

As was anticipated, the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon scheduled for May 21 in Pueblo West has reached its capacity of 216, having done so by mid-April. The reasons for the race’s tremendous popularity are many, among them that it is:

  • The first triathlon of the season statewide.
  • A “sprint” distance triathlon (525-meter swim, 12-mile bike, 5K run) that is a good way to start the “tri” season.
  • Held in a competitor-friendly arena.

Don’t laugh about that last reason. Pueblo is gaining a reputation throughout the state for the down-home, friendly atmosphere prevalent at its local running and multi-sport races. Darrin Eisman, a writer for Rocky Mountain Sports magazine, wrote a flattering piece about that very fact in a recent issue. He had nothing but good words to say about local races produced by the Southern Colorado Runners.

If you’d like to help make the Ordinary Mortals a success as a volunteer, please call Ben Valdez at the YMCA, 543-5151 (weekdays).

Area throng headed to Bolder Boulder

In what has become an annual rite of spring, another large contingent of Pueblo-area runners will be racing in the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day (May 29). The Bolder Boulder is more of an “experience” than a race. It attracts 40,000 runners, has thousands of spectators and entertainment all along the course, and produces a party atmosphere inside Folsom Stadium at the finish, making for a memorable, festive event. For some runners, absorbing the atmosphere is more important than their finish times.

As has become tradition, runners from Southern Colorado will gather in Section 215 of Folsom Stadium after the race to enjoy revelry and exchange stories about the race. All runners and spectators from this region are invited to join them.

Area cyclists await Ride the Rockies

Gerald Puls isn’t the only Pueblo cyclist signed up for the Ride the Rockies. Others are Joe Chorny, Keith Kepler, Steve Milligan, Victor Olguin, John Oribello, Elizabeth Ross, Robert Shifflet and Alton Warren. Cañon City riders entered are Michael Banker, Barbara Berge, Lowell Miller, Thomas Roemer, and Jane and Kirk Yamaguchi. Have a nice trip. Send me a postcard, in care of The Chieftain Sports Department, during the week.

The Ride the Rockies, which covers a different course each year, will begin in Trinidad on June 18 and finish in Idaho Springs on June 24, traversing five mountain passes along the way.

Here at home, casual mountain bikers can enjoy the series of moonlight rides scheduled by the Great Divide. They begin at 7:30 p.m. at the City Park swimming pool parking lot and are about 121/2 miles in distance. The riders take their time, finishing around 10:30 p.m. The Great Divide has about 15 bike lights to loan out on a first-come basis for these jaunts, and the next ride will be Friday, June 16.

Dave Anderson has scheduled the second annual HARP Century ride for Sunday, Aug. 27. The event consists of a 100-mile ride, a metric 100 (62 miles) and a 30-miler. Last year’s inaugural ride had 84 participants, and approximately 150 are expected this year. The course won’t include the interstate this time.

Boston Marathon — The Aftermath

All four local runners finished the Boston Marathon last month. Listed alphabetically, Marv Bradley of Cañon City had a time of 3 hours and 36 minuntes, Shaun Gogarty of Colorado City finished in 4 hours, Hector Leyba of Penrose in 3:46, and Kim Westerman of Pueblo West in 4:17.

Former Puebloan Steve Cathcart, who won two races in the Spring Runoff in March, had to drop out of his first Boston Marathon at 21 miles because of a hip injury. He was clocked at 2:18:33 at the 21.7-mile mark when he decided not to risk further injury. Steve, who ran for Pueblo County High School and at Western State College, now lives in Fort Collins, where he works for Hewlett-Packard. He and two partners are opening a new Runners Roost store there.

Until next month, enjoy each workout and relish being fit and healthy.

Send positive thoughts and comments to Gary Franchi via e-mail at csports@chieftain.com.