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Lander triathlon introduced new competitors to the sport

Aug 20, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

High school students won both the men's and women's divisions.

The 2013 Lander Sprint Triathlon drew 38 first-timers to the event on Saturday.

The field had 67 individuals overall.

This was the third year the triathlon in Lander has taken place.

Athletes in the field did a 750-yard swim, a 12.4-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.

"We had a great turnout both in the number of individuals and relays participating in the event, as well as volunteers and spectators," Lander triathlon club president Ann Lehmkuhler said. "It was fun to see so many youth out for the race. Next year, it would be great to see even more youth and relays involved in the event."

Last year, 24 athletes completed their first triathlon in Lander.

"We had several first-timers do very well placing in or even winning their age groups," Lehmkuhler said.

Winners

"It was fun to see young athletes win both the male and female races," Lehmkuhler said. "This is unusual for the sport of triathlon."

Harrison Simmons won the men's triathlon title, and Hannah Chapin finished first on the women's side.

Chapin attends Buffalo High School, while Simmons goes to Campbell County High School in Gillette.

"Usually, the top competitors are in the 30-39 age group," Lehmkuhler said. "Most people come to the sport after college sometime in their early 20s. It's a tough sport to get into and do well because it requires an athlete to be good at three different events. It can also be expensive because of all the equipment involved."

Chapin is a standout swimmer at Buffalo.

"It looks like compared to the two women that finished behind her, she had a really good swim time which likely made a big difference in the overall results," Lehmkuhler said.

Strong field

"It was really fun to watch because it was super-competitive," Lehmkuhler said. "The top men all had an equal shot to win the event."

The first three placers in the men's field were only separated by a minute. Sam Hartpence was second (1:06:01) followed by Brent Phinney third (1:06:40).

"The top three were within 49 seconds of one another," Lehmkuhler said.

Changes

The biggest changes was the finish line was located at the Lander City Pool. In 2012, officials had the finish line at the Lander City Park.

"In order to do this, we had to change the run course," Lehmkuhler said. "This is the third year we have had a different run course."

The club president said participates didn't mind the different run.

"It made it much easier for spectators to watch the race as well as volunteers to manage it," Lehmkuhler said. "Next year, we are hoping to keep the run course the same and finish in front of the pool again."

The Lander officials changed how the swimmers were seeded.

"The past two years, it was based strictly on swim team regardless of gender," Lehmkuhler said. "This year, based on feedback from the top men, we decided to do it by gender."

Heat five included the top 12 women as seed by swim team.

Heat six was the top 12 men as seeded by swim time.

"This allowed for the top competitors to race against one another," Lehmkuhler said.

A big focus for the Lander 2014 event will be on the youth.

"I would like us to continue to encourage more youth to get involved in the sport," Lehmkuhler said.

"I would also like to figure out how to get more athletes to return."

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