Perfect weather, a perfect location and a relatively short, but somewhat challenging, course attracted over three times the number of participants to this year’s Big Horn County Triathlon held in conjunction with the Big Horn Lake celebration at Horseshoe Bend on Saturday.
This is the second year the triathlon was held. The first year attracted 26 participants. This year there were 86. The event drew participants from Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. Wyoming athletes travelled from Lovell, Powell, Greybull, Basin, Sheridan and as far away as Jackson Hole to take part in the event.
Organizer Ben Zeller attributes the success of this year’s event to his efficient use of “the worldwide web.” Zeller posted the event on websites like TriFind and Active.com. He kept an active Facebook page for the event.
The event included divisions for men, women and individual youth, as well as teams for adults and kids under age 16. The adult course included a half-mile swim in Horseshoe Bend, followed by a 12-mile bike ride and a 5K run. Both the bike and the run included a few “good hills,” according to Zeller. Entrants 16 and under took on a shorter course that included a 400-yard swim, a six-mile bike and a 1½-mile run. Zeller thought the younger participants finished too fast and is considering adding to the course to make it slightly more challenging next year.
The men’s event was won by Ladell Merritt and Martin Stensing, who tied with a time of 1:09:03 . Jeanna Merritt outpaced the women’s field for an overall first-place win in the women’s division at 1:21:04. A 10-year-old from Lovell, Kyle Burton, took first place in the individual youth division with a time of 55:07. Burton’s entire family participated in the event including his father Gerry, mother Ashlee and siblings Allie and Karlee.
Many participants from the triathlon and their families took advantage of the free boat rides offered on that day by the Friends of Big Horn Lake, as part of the Big Horn Lake Celebration.
By Patti Carpenter