Triathlon participant battling through the swimming portion of the race.
Triathlon participant finishes the track portion of the race.
As dawn broke across the reservoir, a quiet but intense group of athletes and weekend warriors began gathering at the Mountain View boat ramp in Scofield State Park. They were there to register for what might be the toughest race they have ever taken on.
After almost ending due to lack of participants a few years ago, the triathlon has been reborn and attracted nearly 400 participants. A new category was added this year. It is dubbed the "Ultimate" distance course and 46 enthusiasts braved it.
Participants had the choice of three brackets. Beginners and casual athletes mainly opted for the sprint class. They had to swim a half mile around the lake. Then quickly to the bikes for a 12 mile ride and finally finishing up with a 3.2 mile run.
For the Olympic Class, the swim was doubled and required two laps around to total a mile. The bike route was 25 miles before the transition to a 6.4 mile run. This class attracted a more serious group of athletes including Heath Thurston who has championed the event for the last two years.
The Ultimate race took the swimmers out off the island for a 1.75 mile swim back to the ramp. They then had to climb on their bikes for a grueling 37 mile ride. The course climbs up past the mine and over the top to the northern most tip of Electric Lake, then back to the park to begin a 10 mile run.
The Ultimate and the Olympic groups began their race at 8:00 a.m. and the Sprint Class headed out for their swimming leg at 9:00. There were plenty of crowds cheering on their moms, dads, kids and friends as the participants battled their way through their respective courses.
Heath Thurston in the Olympic class was first to cross the finish line with a commanding lead over the next runners. Rachel Cieslowicz from Salt Lake City was the first female in the Olympic Class to finish. Barry Gates took first in the Sprint Class and Capris Schwazwalder was the first female across in her class.
Contestants continued to finish up, some looking strong and happy, others straggling in and just glad it was over. Some of the participants were already looking ahead to next year and how they could improve. Some decided they might have to think hard about returning, but all expressed feelings of accomplishment for taking on the challenge.
Finally the top ultimate racer came blasting through the finish. Marcel Vifian, who also helped design the course, was a good 15 minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Vifian has been in love with the Scofield event since he first got involved with the race. He is a past US Professional National Triathlon Champion and has raced all over the U.S.
Even he admitted that, despite knowing the course better that anyone, it was tougher than he thought. But over all he was pleased with the new addition to the event. "It's not as long as half an Iron Man race, but for anyone wanting to start doing those distances, this is an excellent way to make the transition."
The most frequent comment for those finishing was on the altitude factor. Even Thurston, three time winner of the event commented that he always underestimates the altitude at this race. But he plans to be back again.
"It is a fun race. Burke takes care of the details. It is the small things that can make a race work and if there are problems one year, he makes sure they are resolved and fixed for the next year. The course is great." Cieslowcz took second last year and was first in 2006. She loves this event because of the great scenery and challenging hills. Her favorite part of the race is when she gets her swim done and can begin the biking and running.
So as the blisters heal and the sore muscles mend, there will be many that start training anew for the event next year.