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July 24th was the 2nd running of the Lake Como off-road triathlon.  Because the race director is utilizing the area in the Lake Como Recreation Area near Hamilton, the distances are odd.  1,500 swim, 12.6 mtn bike and 7.7 trail run around the lake.  It is a beautiful venue.  If you are looking for a low-key, low-pressure race, this is a good one.  As one that had never tried off-road, it was an excellent choice. 
 
Mike and I took the dog and headed out on Friday afternoon toward Hamilton.  Before we left town, we thought we would grab a couple of sandwiches from the Staggering Ox.  While Mike waited for our order, I went out to re-arrange Eby (dog) in the truck.   I left the keys in the truck while I walked to the other side, and, of course, Eby pushed her way into the front seat, locking the door in the process.  It was at that moment that I remembered the Ironman creed of “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”.  After Mike contorted his arm and managed to get the door unlocked, we started on our way.  When we got to the Recreation Area there were no camping sites left.  However, being surrounded by National Forest, we choose a spot off an old road that was part of the bike course.  This worked to our advantage as Eby was free to run to her hearts content.
 
Race:
The water was a nice temperature.  With 70 solo and 30 team people, there was not much crowding in the water.  When someone did come near me, I did not give an inch.  The mountains around the lake are beautiful.  I had a great swim.  (My swim time and T1 are wrong on the website, but it is combined to 35 minutes, which is right.)  Out of the water and into my sandals (recommended) for a long run across the beach to my bike. 
 
Onto the bike and the first section of single track.  I feel a little bad for the 4 people that were stuck behind me as I had about 30 minutes of mountain biking experience at that point.  It didn’t last long, though, as I moved over so they could pass me on the road.  The first 5 or 6 miles was climbing up old forest service roads that were very sandy.  (Haven’t figured that out yet.)  Again, a perfect first timer course.  Tough, but not technical.  The second section of single track was steep and loose, then flattened out.  Back to the forest service sand road.  I was able to practice my Dirt Diva skills on the road and was ready on the third section of single track to be more aggressive.  I popped out back onto the road right above where we were camped, started sliding in the sand, didn’t panic, got out of it, and down to the transition.  As I am a road triathlete, I was out of my bike shoes before I got off my bike.  I didn’t realize I was going to be running back over the rocks to T2.  Quick transition and off to the run course. 
 
Here is where I pulled a total rookie move.  I followed someone else on the run course, even though I didn’t see any markings.  We ran along the lake until the trail ran out and had to climb straight up to the real trail above us.  The other guy apologized, but he need not.  It is every racers responsibility to know the course.  I passed him and one other before coming to the finish.  The run was fairly flat, but technical.  Lots of rocks and creek crossings – just like running in Helena! 
 
It was a beautiful day.  There were 3 soloists and one team from Helena.  I was (surprisingly) the only one in the BSC jersey.  I will wait for the other race reports to see where everyone was this weekend!  No pictures, I busted my camera two days before. 
 
Mike, Eby and I stayed that night as well.  It is great country and a great race.  I would highly recommend it.
 
~Rebecca
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