Paddle, bike, run: Christine Carlson and Victor Ruggiero earn back-to-back titles at Frisco SUP Triathlon

Dana Krivanka of Colorado Springs competes in the mountain bike portion of the Frisco SUP Triathlon on Friday, July 8. Krivanka finished in 50th place in a time of 1:54:22.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

When thinking of the different disciplines in a triathlon, one usually thinks of swimming, biking and running. After all, a traditional triathlon consists of these three disciplines, but the Frisco SUP Triathlon is anything but traditional.

Instead of swimming, biking and running, participants of the Frisco Triathlon stand-up paddleboard (SUP), mountain bike and trail run. The event is a true Summit County tradition that is made up of three activities that are true to the mountain lifestyle.

“It takes a regular triathlon and flips it on its head,” Victor Ruggiero from Colorado Springs said. “It’s so much more fun.”

Karen Hayter of Grand Junction whips around a corner while competing in the Frisco SUP Triathlon on Friday, July 8. Hayter placed 113th in a time of 2:15:57.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

At the eighth annual Frisco SUP Triathlon on Friday, July 8, over 200 participants competed around Frisco Bay Marina.

For the first leg of the race, participants lined up along the shores of the Frisco Bay Marina with the early morning sun starting to rise into the sky.

With the sound of a horn, competitors were sent in waves across Dillon Reservoir for a total of 3 kilometers before they reached the shores of Pine Cove Campground.

Once on dry land, competitors scrambled up the Pine Cove boat ramp and hopped on a bike to travel 11 kilometers on the trails that comprise the Frisco Peninsula.

Once back at the Pine Cove Campground, the last transition was made. With 14 kilometers down, participants just had 5 more kilometers between them and the finish line.

In the men’s individual race, it was a rematch of last year’s 7th annual Frisco SUP Triathlon where Ruggiero, Dalton McBride of Breckenridge and Blake Crossland of Fraser made up the awards podium. 

The trio all raced for the podium again this year, putting themselves in the top 10 after the stand-up paddle board section. Crossland was in second place coming off the water, completing the discipline in 16:17.

Once on the bike, Ruggiero and McBride started to reel Crossland back in. Ruggiero, 49, was in fifth place starting the bike portion, but after nearly 40 minutes of flowing through the trails Ruggiero improved four spots to move into first place to start the running portion of the race.

McBride also had an impressive mountain bike portion, moving up from sixth to third place and finishing the discipline 23 seconds behind Ruggiero in a time of 40:31. Crossland dropped back to eighth place while biking, finishing the discipline in a time of 42:33.

It was during the run portion when the trio set themselves apart from the rest of the competition. Tailing Ruggiero, Crossland and McBride attempted to reel in the returning champion, but Ruggiero was set on becoming the two-time champion.

Ruggiero crossed the finish line in first place in a time of 1:24:14. Crossland, 27, finished in second in a total time of 1:25:44, while Summit’s McBride finished 59 seconds later in a time of 1:26:43.

“The running is my strongest part, but this year it was a lot harder to hold the lead,” Ruggiero said. “I would rather be the hunter than the hunted.”

Victor Ruggiero, center, Blake Crossland, left, and Dalton McBride, right, receive their awards after finishing on the podium for the second straight year at the Frisco SUP Triathlon on Friday, July 8. Ruggiero secured his second straight title, finishing in a time of 1:24:14.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

For McBride, 27, the race couldn’t have gone better, and he was happy to be standing atop the podium with the same three men as last year. 

“I love coming out to do the Frisco SUP Triathlon. It’s super fun ,” McBride said. “Still the same group of podium guys as last year. It’s kind of a battle of the weekend warriors, but it’s just fun to be out there.”

Another two-time champion was crowned in the women’s individual race but, like Ruggiero’s, the title did not come without a fight. 

Christine Carlson, 35, of Frisco was the first female coming out of the water, but she was quickly trailed by Kayla Miller of Golden. On the mountain bike section, Carlson gained some breathing room, expertly bombing down the hills to be the first female to move onto the run portion.

Carlson finished the bike portion in a time of 40:42 to be ranked fourth overall.

For Carlson, the run was the most challenging discipline for her, but she was able to close out the race to secure her second straight first-place finish.

“Running is tough,” Carlson said of her toughest discipline. “Living in Summit County, we have incredible mountain biking trails, so that (the run) was just, ‘I can do anything for 30 minutes to finish it out.’ ”

Carlson finished in a time of 1:33:40 to place sixth overall among a talented field of competitors. Following right behind Carlson was Cordelia Zars, 28, of Longmont who, after an impressive final two legs, finished in a total time of 1:34:02 to be the second woman across the line and the seventh overall finisher. 

Christine Carlson, center, Cordelia Zars, left, and Kayla Miller, right, stand atop the awards podium after finishing the Frisco SUP Triathlon on Friday, July 8. Carlson of Frisco won the race in a time of 1:33:40 after winning the event in 2021.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

“I live in Frisco, so the peninsula is kind of my heartworm,” Carlson said. “It was a beautiful morning to be out playing, and my family came to visit to cheer me on. It was my second year, so I knew a little bit more of what to expect.”

Miller, 32, was the third female finisher in a time of 1:38:32.

For many, the unique nature and the organization of the triathlon is the reason why participants keep coming to compete in the event. Ruggiero especially enjoys the event because of how adept the town of Frisco is in improving the race on a yearly basis.

“They have got this so dialed in,” Ruggiero said. “Every year, they seem to make it a little better.”

Rounding out the top 10 finishers, Jared Napoleon, 40, of Frisco finished in fifth place overall in a time of 1:30:32. Phil Lindeman of Krystal 93 finished just out of the top 10 in 16th place. 

For full race results, visit

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