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One of the largest sporting events, and the big crowd that usually comes with it, returns Saturday to Los Alamos County.
The Los Alamos Triathlon will be Saturday. The county’s recreation department hosts the event, which gets going bright and early at 7 a.m. when the first wave of competitors gets going.
This is the 39th year for the event. It’s believed to be the longest continuously-run multi-sport race in the country, although it was reduced to just two legs in 2010 due to road construction in and around Diamond Drive.
The triathlon consists of a 20K bike race followed by a 400-meter swim at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center, followed by a 5K run.
This year’s course will be different than previous years, however, particularly the running leg.
This year, instead of runners heading northeast along Canyon Drive, they will actually head west toward Los Alamos High School, then turn north onto Diamond Drive before turning around and heading back toward the aquatic center.
Last year, 146 individuals and 23 relay teams took part in the race.
Longtime multi-sport competitor Chip Cooper of Los Alamos came back from a big deficit in the third and final leg to win the men’s elite championship.
Cooper trailed 2008 and 2009 triathlon winner Jimmy Archer – formerly of Los Alamos, now of Boulder, Colo. – by as much as 46 seconds at the start of the run, but passed Archer late to win the title.
Cooper would be the only athlete in the 2012 triathlon to finish in under 1 hour, clocking in at 59 minutes, 47 seconds.
Another elite local athlete, Amy Regan, was also in contention for the women’s title, but was overtaken at about the halfway mark of the race by Liz Miller. Miller led by just 17 seconds after two events but pulled away during the run portion to claim the victory.
For her win, Miller finished in 1:09:30, 35 seconds ahead of Regan, who was the 2011 women’s winner and has previously competed in Ironman triathlons, including the world championships held in Hawaii.
Last year, the elite athletes started the bike race individually, taking off at 30-second intervals.
The race draws not only numerous locals – Los Alamos-based groups such as Moms In Motion and the Triatomics regularly train for this and other such events – but attracts several out-of-town athletes, some coming from as far away as the East Coast to participate. In fact, 2010 “aquathlon” winner and 2011 triathlon winner Viktor Zymetsev is an international competitor and professional triathlete who often visits the area to train.
Also this weekend, the Los Alamos Kids Triathlon will return. That event is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.
LA Triathlon Info
• Online registration for the Los Alamos Triathlon is now closed, but in-person registration can still be done at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center until Thursday. There is no day-of registration. Participants can enter as individuals or 2- or 3-person relay teams. Call 662-8173 for information.
• The following road closures will be in effect for Saturday: Canyon Road will be closed to thru traffic from Central to the Los Alamos United Church from 5-11 a.m. Canyon Road will be closed from Central to Diamond Drive from 5-11 a.m.
• Motorists should be aware there will be cyclists traveling on Canyon Road, Diamond Drive, and West Jemez Road from 7-9:30 a.m. Saturday and runners traveling on Canyon Road and Diamond Drive from 8-11 a.m. Police officers will be directing traffic at the intersections of Diamond and Canyon, Trinity and Diamond, Diamond and West Jemez Road, and Diamond and Orange Street.
• Volunteers are still needed for traffic control, packet pick-up, timing and other duties. Call the recreation department at 662-8173 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.