Team Great Divide was well represented at the Lake Como tri as we had six athletes show up and race in team gear – Raz, Ann S., Jane O., Tommy F., Dave Hamer, and myself. A few people even asked me during the race about our team, so I guess we made an impression!
This is by far one of the most beautiful locations I have ever done a triathlon in, made even better by this year’s snowpack, which both filled the lake to the brim, and also gave us snow-capped mountains in the background for the whole race. To top it off, race day weather was very pleasant – not too hot at all. Lake Como is over in the Bitterroots, between Darby and Hamilton.
The race started off at 8 am with a 1500 m swim in the lake. Being the ONLY racer without a real wetsuit, I was a bit intimidated standing on shore, but the water was fine as soon as we got in. Pretty standard swim. Then we transitioned into a 12.6 mi mountain bike ride, which was probably 90% FS road and 10% single-track. The first 400 m of the bike is a singletrack, which thanks to numb hands and a lot of sand (and probably trying to go out too hard), I know at least Dave and I almost wiped out on. The bike has a good elevation gain, and gains all of its uphill in the first half, which was tough! On the way back down we had one creek crossing, which was flowing high thanks to the snowpack. Ann S. was apparently too hot, as when I caught up to her there, she was taking a swim with her bike in the creek 🙂 Luckily she was okay (besides a bloody knee) and was able to get across and finish the bike ride. For those doing it next year, there is a small footbridge at the creek crossing which Ann (and a few others) didn’t notice.
The 7.7 mi. run does a loop around the lake on singletrack, and is relatively flat and very pretty. It was hard for me to get a rhythm on the run though, as it was so twisting, with switchbacks, rolling up and down, and rocky at times. As Tommy had warned me, on the second half of the run, you can see the finish for a long time and it feels like you’re not getting any closer. The finish is a +/- 600 meter sprint across the dam, out in the open to the finish line. All six of us finished in great times (from about 2:30 hours to 3:15), and I will definitely be back next year.
I think the general consensus was that this is a beautiful race, well worth doing, but not a good ‘first’ triathlon, and you had to be in some form of good shape to really do well. The run is long and really drags on if you are running out of steam. Average finish times were about 2:45 or 3 hours.
Oh, the best thing is that this race coincides with Hamilton’s “Brewfest” weekend, so next year I’m sticking around for that!