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Valley Girl Triathalon draws strong field

Sun., July 19, 2009, 6:59 p.m.

The red swim caps went first at 7:45 a.m. as the cheering reached its crescendo. The white followed five minutes later, then the green, and so on through seven waves of women who threw themselves into Liberty Lake Sunday morning for the first leg of the Valley Girl Triathlon.

After 600 yards, around two buoys and escorted by a flotilla of watchful kayakers, they trotted out of the water. Off came the caps, goggles, and wet suits; on went the helmets and shoes stowed at the bike racks for the cycling leg. Nobody lent a hand. This was self-peeling.

After 12 miles pedaling, they were back at the lakefront discarding their bikes, donning running shoes for the final three miles to Pavilion Park, all the while cheered by family members shouting encouragement to “Becky,” “Allie,” “Lisa,” and “Mommy,” among hundreds of others.

Mommy won.

Sarah Ranson ran into the park with a time of 1:08:46. In the final leg, the diminutive Ranson reeled in all but one of the 14 athletes who finished the cycling leg ahead of her.

It was her first Valley Girl, she said, holding a child as she congratulated other finishers.

“I dabble in it,” Ranson said of the triathlon game. “I’m more of a runner.”

She credited husband Nick, also a triathlete, for helping her find practice time.

Kristen Armstrong, fourth across the line in 1:12:19, also said triathlon was a family thing. Daughter Morgan, 7, won a children’s version of the event Saturday, with 9-year-old sister Emily also in the field.

“We are having a very good family weekend,” Armstrong said.

Adrianne Campbell was first to cross the finish line but had a five-minute edge because of the staggered starts. She finished in 1:10:24, second place overall.

“Was that a long swim? I had the worst swim of my life,” Campbell said as she waited to see if her big lead at the finish would be enough to offset her early start.

Campbell said she was still recovering from a longer triathlon in June.

“This is, like, my comeback,” she said.

The third place finisher overall was Teri Orr, in 1:10:51. The winning teams were the Panthers, in 1:14:41, for a threesome less than a cumulative 120 years of age. The Divas, 120 years and up, came home in 1:07:45.

At least one team was one short. Laura Tingstad was doubling up on swimming and running, with Barbara Jenkins the sandwiched cyclist.

Jenkins said she practiced by towing a child around in a trailer. The trailer came off Saturday night.

At 40-plus, she said, “I guess we have to prove we’re not dead yet.”

Tell that to Shirley Sturtz, at 72 years the race’s oldest finisher in an impressive one-hour, forty-seven minutes.

It was all over by 11 a.m., said race co-founder Robin DeRuwe. A few entrants fell by the wayside, she said, but the event went smoothly.

“Our group this year was much speedier than in the past,” she said.

A total 550 women registered for the race Oct. 15, filling the available slots for the sixth annual version of Valley Girl in 11/2hours.

Co-founder Marla Emde was still coordinating with law enforcement and fire officials as the start approached.

“It’s a big deal for a lot of women,” she said.

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