These are no Ordinary Mortals

by | Apr 3, 2012 | News Articles

These are no Ordinary Mortals

(courtesy of the Pueblo Chieftain)

Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 12:00 am

Ordinary Mortals is a race for all ages and ability levels.

Young and old, short and tall, “newbies” and experienced veterans — the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon & Duathlon and Mini Mortals Kids Triathlon will have them all on April 15. Started in 1992 as an adult triathlon before being abandoned after the 2006 race, the event has returned through the efforts of local swim coach/Ironman triathlete Gwen Steves and others who wanted to bring the sport back to Pueblo.

After conducting a kids triathlon a year ago, Steves, with help from local fitness advocate Kim Arline, went for the whole enchilada this time by planning both adult and kids events. And when there were requests to include an adult duathlon, the organizers complied.

It’ll start at 9 a.m. at Colorado State University-Pueblo with the adult triathlon and duathlon in reverse order — 5K run, then a 12.6-mile bike followed by a 300-yard swim for the triathlon, with the duathlon finishing with a 2-mile run instead of the swim. The Mini Mortals will go off at noon with distances varying by age divisions (5-8, 9-11 and 12-15 years old).

Steves admits it hasn’t been easy, but she said it’s been fun thanks to the group that is doing much of the groundwork. When she requested help from CSU-Pueblo, Karen Marley’s events management class in the Exercise Science, Health Promotion & Recreation department came through with more than 60 students, who were broken into seven committees to tackle specific planning responsibilities.

One of them is Rebekkah Gatchel, who was originally assigned to the budget committee but eventually became the student assistant race director. A non-traditional student who commutes from Canon City, Gatchel said the group has responded to the challenge and will be getting additional help.

“We had no idea what we were getting into, but we’re working real hard,” she said, noting that the event has given the class the perfect opportunity to put textbook principles into a real-life event. She said several organizations on campus have committed to donating their time as volunteers.

“I feel real good about the job they’re doing,” Steves said.

Entrants are a kaleidoscope of different ages and abilities of athletes, including elite competitors such as Puebloan Michael Orendorff, 60, who was the Ordinary Mortals founder in 1992 and the national age-group triathlon champion in 2011. On the other end of the spectrum will be first-time competitors who are willing to try the sprint distances, especially the relatively short 300-yard swim.

One of them is James Chacon, a 38-year-old Puebloan and former competitive powerlifter, who was inspired by good friend and Ironman finisher Rob Archuleta.

“The main thing is the people that you surround yourself with are awesome,” Chacon said.

As a husband and father, he said the toughest part of the training is balancing the workouts with family responsibilities. But, having dropped 30 pounds from his 5-foot-8 frame through daily workouts that include some two-a-days, he said he’s enjoying seeing his body evolve into a fit machine.

Then there is the Pueblo West Tiller family, who will have three competing on April 15 — Sheri and Jerry (in their 40s) in the adult triathlon and 7-year-old Jennings in the Mini Mortals. The youngster ran a 25:54 5K in The Pueblo Chieftain’s Spring Runoff last month.

“He swims well too,” his mother said, pointing out that Jennings got started in the SwimAmerica program at the Pueblo Athletic Club, progressing through all of the 10 levels. The Tillers have done 22 triathlons between them, including the 2004 Ordinary Mortals when they moved to the area from Hawaii. Jennings has already done four, including the youth event that Steves conducted last year.

Steves said Ordinary Mortals has been marketed throughout the state, and as of this past weekend most of the nearly 100 registered adults are from out of the Pueblo area. Registration is available online at