YFC triathlon welcomes athletes from across the country

SEELEY LAKE - Before 69-year-old triathlete Terry VanderWert turns 70, he wants to complete 50 triathlons across all 50 states. After participating in the 16th annual Youth for Christ (YFC) Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 6. He's only one state away from achieving his goal. 

"My wife and I recently became empty nesters and we had traveled around at least the Midwest with our son but now he's gone," VanderWert said. "We like road trips, so we figured why don't we just take this triathlon on the road." 

VanderWert started his triathlon journey back in 2012 at 59-years-old. Since, he's participated in a total of 49 triathlons in 49 different states. Over this summer he said he's done five races in Oklahoma, Kansas, California, Idaho and now Montana. 

Hailing from Minnesota, VanderWert recently moved to Central Florida, before deciding to hit the road for the summer with his wife Joy. 

Although VanderWert is retired, he said he writes articles about his triathlon experiences at http://www.seniortriathletes.com, a website dedicated to those who are 50 years and older who are active in triathlon, preparing for a triathlon or just considering the sport. VanderWert provides advice and training on racing in Triathlons, along with stories of his times running, biking and swimming in states across the U.S. 

After years of road tripping, he said he's enjoyed racing in all the states. Seeley Lake is a great place with a great view to do a triathlon.  

"They're all unique," VanderWert said. "It's just been a real treat to learn about this country. They're all beautiful places." 

Vanderwert was not the only one excited to participate. According to Event Organizer Cheri Thompson, this is the biggest triathlon they've had since before the 2017 Rice Ridge Fire, with a total of 168 participants. 

Seeley-Swan High School student Holly Friede started the triathlon in 2006 under the mentorship of Thompson. It originally raised funds for Families with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Now, it's a fundraiser that promotes programming and events for the YFC and City Life Center. Funds raised go directly towards relationship building with youth at YFC.

Since it started, the triathlon has grown in popularity and size. Thompson said they attract people from all across the state and country participating in the race. She said not much has changed from previous years, aside from helping 13-year-old racers transition from the kids swimming section to the adult swimming section. 

"They have their own age group but they have to do the big race," Thompson said. "So we added 150 yards to help those kids transition out from 50 yards to 350." 

The triathlon is made up of either a short (300 yards) or long (600 yards) open swim in Seeley Lake, a 10-mile bike ride down Boy Scout Road and a 3.3-mile trail run to finish the race. The duathlon starts and ends with a 3.3-mile trail run and a 10-mile bike ride in the middle. For the youth triathlon, competitors swam the perimeter of the swimming area, biked the River Point Loop and ran a brief out-and-back on the campground road. All races started and ended at the River Point Campground Day Use area, which also served as a transition point for competitions.

VanderWert finished in first place for his age group and 26th place overall for the 600-meter swim with a time of 1:28:00. He plans to finish his goal of 50 triathlons in 50 states next summer at a race in West Virginia. 

"I trained for the triathlon, but I'm not a serious competitor," VanderWert said. "My goal is to enjoy the [race]. There's always some camaraderie to go around." 

Winners of the men's division 600-meter swim were: Jacob Deitz of Kalispell in first place (1:02:24); Nick Blank of Seeley Lake in second place (1:02:50) and Tom Stanton of Helena in third place (1:06:07). 

In the men's division 300-meter swim, Nathan Moon of Kalispell finished first (1:01:14), John Murphy of Escondido, California was in second (1:03:45) followed by Dylan Hill of Helena in third (1:04:36).  Joel Jacobson of Missoula won the 150-yard swim in 1:09:55.

For the Women, Joy Adams of Missoula won the 600-meter swim with a time of 1:11:45. She was followed by Rebecca Crandall of Kalispell in second (1:18:05) and Elizabeth Odell in third (1:19:10). For the 300-meter swim, Kelly Minear of Kalispell took first (1:04:17), Hanna Kluck of Butte finished second (1:05:40) and Elizabeth Fruehan of Columbia Falls finished third (1:06:40). Camille Deitz of Whitefish won the 150-yard swim finishing in 1:10:03.

Duathlon winners included Kimi Mitchell of Bonner swept the field with a time of 1:45:53. Benjamin Palmer was close behind finishing first for the men with a time of 1:50:12.

Colette Colley of Clancy won the Kid's Triathlon with a time of 17:58.25. Finishing in second for the girls was Anya Colley of Clancy (18:41.57) and AliYah Homen of Seeley Lake took third (18:46.88).

For the boys in the Kid's Triathlon, Liam Harris of Missoula took first with a time of 18:30.04. Carter Jackson took second with a time of 18:48.04 and Liam's brother Justin took third with a time of 18:48.79. 

For full results visit https://competitivetiming.com/yfc-seeley-lake-challenge-duathlontriathlon-results/


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