DENVER (KDVR) — It’s the newest sport at the University of Denver and, quite possibly, the most complex. The women’s collegiate triathlon consists of three events with standardized distances of a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.
For DU senior Amanda Ballard, the triathlon is the ultimate challenge.
“It’s so different than any other sport,” Ballard said. “It’s three different sports, so there’s always something new. You’re always learning and there’s always something to get better at.”
Triathlons aren’t exactly kid’s stuff, but Ballard started competing in them at the age of five.
“My mom just always signed us up for crazy things and a triathlon happened to be one of them,” Ballard recalled.
Sixteen years later, the Lakewood native was chosen captain of the DU Women’s Triathlon team. The fourth-ranked Pioneers are Colorado’s only Division 1 Women’s Triathlon Team. Although the new program has left some members of the student body scratching their heads.
“They’re always like, ‘What’s a triathlon? What is it again? What are the sports?’ OK, it’s swim, bike, run,” Ballard joked. “Then they’re like, ‘How long does it take you?’ I’m like about an hour or so, and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s crazy.’”
Crazy is a good way to describe Amanda’s schedule. Daily training sessions often begin before sunrise and she spends upwards of eleven hours a day between workouts and classes.
“I kind of take my mind off school while training. I find it to be a little bit overbearing and overwhelming if I’m constantly thinking about school while training. Or constantly thinking about training when I’m in school, so it’s a good break”, said Ballard, a biology major in her final semester.
With her senior season in the home stretch, Ballard is shifting into another gear. The Pioneers are gearing up for the national championships after winning the NCAA Division 1 race at the Smith Mountain National Qualifier in Huddleston, Va. Amanda is savoring the experience.
“I’m trying to do that now, but it’s going by so fast I’m still trying to catch my breath. But that’s kind of the thrill of it”, Ballard said.
The 2021 Women’s Triathlon National Championships take place Nov. 13 in Tempe, Az.