Celebrating its 18th year, the July 4 Grady Williams Freedom Days Triathlon lured more than 100 athletes from the Four Corners and beyond to compete in this Olympic-distance event.
As the sun was rising over Farmington Lake, swimmers plunged in for the 1,500-meter swim portion of the triathlon,following a triangular route around large, orange buoys.
Upon completion of the swim, we transitioned to the 10K run on beautiful sandy singletrack through the piñon hills north of Farmington until reaching the bicycle transition at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater, where a challenging, hilly bike course of 25 miles brought the race to its completion.
Co-race director Debbie Dusenbery said: "This race usually attracts pretty serious triathletes, because it is the longest-distance triathlon in our region, and is also part of the Southwest Challenge Series.
"The race was renamed in 2000 in honor of Grady Williams, an active local triathlete and community volunteer who died in 1999," she said.
Durango triathlete Mike Sulkosky entered for the first time this year.
"It's one of those things I always say I'm gonna show up, but something else has always come up," he said. "I enjoyed this race very much, and since I haven't done much racing this year, I have to race back into shape."
A total of 74 individuals and 17 relays teams completed the triathlon with Durango's Marisa Asplund as this year's overall female winner with a time of 2:26.23. Clay Moseley of Los Alamos was the overall male winner (2:15:27). Other Durango finishers were Stephanie Roberts, Dean Bettis, Sulkosky, Priscilla Blevins and me.
Pattie Glover from Farmington has participated in the race for the past 20 years, alternating between doing the entire race solo and being on a relay as the bike leg, and most recently the swim leg of the race.
"I enjoy the swimming so much, and the thing that's nice for us from Farmington is that we all know each other. We've been doing this for a long time, and we're never on the same team. We mix it up. It's the camaraderie that makes it so fun and special."
The order of events for this triathlon is different than most, with the run second and the bike section third.
"I like doing the run after the swim," said Stephanie Roberts from Durango.
Dean Bettis also cited the trail run as the best part of the course.
According to Andy Tallmadge, who was the runner on Team Fit from Albuquerque, "It was the best run ever, a full 10K this time."
The volunteer staff received praise from many of the participants as being the most encouraging of any race.
The Totah Amateur Radio Club, who provides communication for the entire race, has been volunteering their services since the race first began in 1991. Amateur radio is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, and according to their volunteers: "It's what we do; it keeps us young and active. We can't do the triathlon, but we can be out there to support the athletes."
If you are thinking about doing an Olympic-distance triathlon, either individually or as a team, start planning for next year - this one comes highly recommended.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.