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Valley Girl event one for the ages

Mon., July 16, 2007, midnight

Betty Lane did part of a triathlon seven years ago when she was a mere 75 years old.

She was happy watching from the sidelines at Sunday’s Valley Girl Triathlon in Liberty Lake, clanging a cowbell and playing cheerleader with her silver hair tucked under a straw hat.

The Bellevue woman came with several other women known as the Tri Grrrls who were competing in the women-only triathlon.

Lane said the oldest Tri Grrrl racing Sunday was 70.

Race director Marla Emde said the oldest competitor overall was 76 and the youngest was 12. About 520 competed in the sprint-distance event, which included a quarter-mile swim, 11.5-mile bike and a 3-mile run.

Spokane’s Aubre Debenham, a 24-year-old Central Valley graduate, said she loves the Valley Girl Triathlon.

“This is a perfect race to do when you’re just starting out,” said Debenham, who’s training for the Ironman. “It makes women feel comfortable when you’re only competing with women.”

Sunday’s Valley Girl was the first triathlon for Hayden’s Karen Shirley.

“It was scary swimming,” Shirley said, “seeing people’s arms and feet and legs all around you.”

But overall the course was easier than Shirley, 33, expected. She said the women were supportive of one another and made conversation as they worked toward the finish line.

Emde said the Valley Girl Triathlon was started in 2004 to help introduce women to the sport.

“It’s a fun event,” she said. “They can practice in their own backyard.”

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