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Locals brave Scofield Triathlond

Sun Advocate sports reporter

Runners grind out the stretch finishing the last stage of the triathlon. This year was the biggest field to date.

On Saturday August 11, the largest field of tri-athletes to date assembled in Scofield to participate in the Scofield triathlon. The race consisted of a swimming leg, followed by a bike leg and then capped off by a run. The distance of each leg was set by either being in the Olympic or Sprint race.

The Olympic class had a mile swim, a 26 mile bike ride and a 6.4 mile run. The sprint distance was half of that. There was also a team category for each distance as well. The event finished off with a kids race. The Scofield Triathlon is considered one of the up and coming triathlons to participate in. This year it attracted two time national champion, Marcel Bifian to be part of the fun. Bifian is now committed to help with the event for at least the next two seasons to make this challenge even better.

The things that make the Scofield event so unique is that it claims to be the highest elevation road triathlon in the United States. Only the off road triathlon in Telluride, Colo. is higher. It also may be the only one run on a scenic byway. It remains uncluttered by commercialism and the scenic beauty of the event stands out as its best feature.

The event has been around for about seven or eight years, remaining in obscurity. A few years back Burke Priest and his wife, Nicole, were sitting at their property in Scofield and decided they needed to get involved with something their whole family could do and get themselves back into shape. Thus began their journey into the sport of triathlons.

They first participated in the Scofield event in 2005. When they approached Kathy Hanna-Smith about how they could help with next year's event, they were told that the current race director was retiring and this would be the last race. They ended up taking over the event, along with partners Justin and Hollie Jones.

In one year they promoted the event that had fielded 75 racers to one that had 225 participants. This year 300 participated in the event. They expect the numbers to grow to 400 or 500 by next year alone. They will be adding another, longer event for next year. This will be more akin to a half Iron Man event. Distances are still being laid out, but the swim alone will be more than a mile and start from the island. They plan on dropping the relay team portion of the day, with only solo participants going at it. The kids event will remain.

For local athletes looking to try their hand at a triathalon, there will be a series of clinics to help with training and preparation for the grueling event. Many local participants were involved this year.

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