A Quintessentially Quirky Quintet
of Multi-Sport Events

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in California Bicyclist, May 1992

Tired of the standard, all-purpose, swim-bike-run format triathlons? Not a problem! The ever flexible world of multi-sport events has something for you, whether you're itching to show off your winter sport style, equestrian skills, pair off in a tandem team entry, or go twice as far as Mark Allen ever went. Read on and get quirky!

1) Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon
Quirky event #1 is the Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon, held on the extinct volcano of that name near Grants, New Mexico. The 75k course ascends, then descends, the volcano in both summer and winter garb and gear. You'll start at 6,450 feet with a 14 mile road bike race, then run five miles, then ski two insanely steep miles (use skins if you want any traction), then don the snow shoes that you've been carrying on your back to hoof it to the summit of the mountain (11,301 feet). That makes four events, and this is a quadrathlon, so it's over now, right? WRONG! There are no Greg LeMondian helicopters to take back to the base of the mountain, so turn around and repeat the process in reverse, all the way back down to Grants. Try not to face plant too many times while downhilling on your X-C skis, by the way. FYI, the winning times for the four (seven, eight?) leg course were 3:40:39 for men (John Ortega) and 4:22:30 for women (Claudia Treadwell).

If you're not up to tackling the entire course, there are two, three, and four person relay team entries as well. The Petro Pounders won the team division, but came in behind soloist Ortega with a time of 3:42:13. Funky team names are the norm: Three Lawyers and One Honest Man, Steaming Mammals, Pelicans in Bondage, Quadranoids, and Gazelles From Hell were entries in the 1992 race, held February 15.

Contact: P.O. Box 85 Grants, NM 87020 (505) 285-6969.

2) Busch Mountain Man Winter Triathlon
Quirky event #2 is the Busch Mountain Man Winter Triathlon, held for the last ten years between the Colorado towns of Beaver Creek, Arrowhead, and Avon. The February 1st, 1992, event was filmed for broadcast on ESPN on April 8 at 10:30PM Mountain Time. Tune in and watch athletes battle it out for the Mouuntain Man title. The 36.5 mile course involves 15 miles of cross country skiing, followed by 9.1 miles of snow shoeing, then concludes with 12.4 miles of speed skating. The latest men's winning time was a 4:07:58, set by Andre Boesel (who collected $1000 for his efforts), while the red lantern award went to Greg Sprigg, who spent a grueling 9:06:34 on the course. Cheryl Chipman took the women's race (and the check for $500) with a time of 5:04:30. Ironman star Ray Browning (who, among other things, has won Ironman Canada three times), learned how to X-C ski from cycling pro Davis Phinney just in time to compete in the 92 Mountain Man. He took a more than respectable third place. There were team relay entries as well, including Foto Finish who smoked the course in 3:54:37.

Contact: U.S. Events P.O. Box 26 Vail, CO 81658 (303) 949-4411

3) Cypress Creek Triathlon
Quirky event #3 is the 3rd Annual Cypress Creek Triathlon, which combines a 5k slippery, muddy, and sandy trail run and a 30k road bike race with a 19.2k equestrian endurance race. The event benefits SIRE, or Self Improvement Thru Riding Education, a non-profit organization. It will be held near Houston, Texas, on April 11.

While most race require a bike inspection during registration, this event has a mandatory vet check (for your horse) before the start and halfway through the four-legged leg of the race. Additionally, horses must be at least four years old and helmets are required both on the bike and on the horse. Equestrian racing is serious stuff!

Team entries are offered, as well as a duathlon (5k run / 30k bike / 5k run), if you don't own a ridable quadruped.

Contact: Gary Gates 1503 Sherwood Forest Houston, TX 77043 (713) 461-1525.

4) Vineman Triathlon
Quirky event #4 is the Vineman Triathlon, held in the California wine country. Its half and full Ironman distance races have been held twice, and this year an international distance race has been added. What makes these traditional swim-bike-run races so unique is their addition of a tandem team relay division: two athletes enter, with one swimming and one running, while they both bike together on a tandem. So, if you've ever dreamed of turning a tri into a duathlon and of splitting the agony up with a partner, then this is the event for you!

The Vineman International will be held on June 7 and the Half and Full Vineman will both be held on August 1. The TYR Camp Vineman will be held April 22-26, for those who'd like hands on professional training to get them ready for the race and the rest of the season.

Contact: P.O. Box 6007 Santa Rosa, CA 95406 (707) 528-1630.

5) Double Iron
Quirky event #5 is the Double Iron, held annually in September near Huntsville, Alabama. This event also follows the standard swim-bike- run prescription, but its quirkiness stems from the fact that it covers DOUBLE the distance of the infamous Ironman. Considering the distance, the Southern humidity, and the 36 hour time limit, this ain't no cruise around Kona!

The 4.8 mile swim takes place in the Tennessee River (with the current) and personal support craft are required. The organizers will provide boy scouts and canoes for out of staters in need of a crew. Next follows the 224 mile bike, with highlights including the probability of 100 degree temps and 100% humidity. You'll also ride largely at night. After the bike leg, not to mention 14 to 25 hours of exertion, you'll head out onto the double marathon (52.4 mile) run. If you're lucky, you'll complete the total distance in under 22 hours (Ken Wiseman's 21:44 1989 record still stands), but more likely than not you'll be on the course for 26, 30, even 36 hours. No matter though, 'cause you'll have beaten Mark Allen, Erin Baker, and the other folks too scared to even give it a go.

Contact: Ray and Nancy Sheppard 94 Scenic Drive Huntsville, AL 35801 (205) 539-0405.

Best of luck in the wacky world of multi-sport mania!