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Mountain triathlon scheduled Aug. 12

| June 23, 2006 12:00 AM

The first Backcountry Wildman, a mountain triathlon event starting and ending in Libby, is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 12.

The event is being sponsored by David Thompson Search and Rescue.

It will include four different categories: a duathlon for a single person; a triathlon for a single person, a team triathlon for three-person teams, and a team duathlon for three-person teams. The duathlon for individuals or teams does not include a 1,000-meter swim at Howard Lake.

"This is one of the fastest growing athletic event in America right now," said event organizer Roby Bowe. "Dr. Mark Heppe has helped us organize the race. He has participated in several events."

The Wildman boasts 54 miles of bicycle riding, 5,000 vertical feet of climbing on two mountains covering about 10 miles and the 1,000-meter swim for individuals or 2,000-meters for teams.

The race will start at the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce Visitors' Center where contestants will leave on mountain bikes on U.S. Highway 2 for Bear Creek Road. They will ride up Bear Creek Road 8 miles to Upper Cherry Creek and then around the loop for two miles to the trailhead for a run up McKay Mountain. The climb to the summit is 2,500 feet in a mile.

"They will come down the same trail, which will have a food station at the bottom of the hill," Bowe said. "McKay can make or break the winner because coming down is hard and they could trash their legs."

Bowe said he was talking to a man last week who met two younger guys on McKay who were checking out the course for the Wildman.

From McKay, the contestants will get back on their mountain bikes and pedal out onto Bear Creek Road over to the Cherry Creek Loop, which returns to Bear Creek Road for a short distance before intersecting with Libby Creek Road. The riders will then head into the Howard Lake area.

At Howard Lake, the participants will swim 1,000 meters.

"They're really going to need a wetsuit," Bowe continued. "If the water temperature below 75 degrees, wet suits and head caps are required."

On the other end of the swim, "strippers" will help contestants out of the wetsuit and into running gear for the run/hike up Great Northern Mountain, past Standard Lake to the saddle between Great Northern and Twin Peaks - another 2,500-foot climb.

Individual contestants return to Howard Lake on the same trail for the bicycle ride back to Libby. Team members have to swim back across the lake before bicycling back to Libby.

Bowe recommends training early for the event and seeing a doctor before starting a vigorous routine to prepare for the race.

"This is going to be a great training for search and rescue using the water people, the mountain people, communications and coordination," Bowe said.

More information about the race can be found at www.backcountrywildman.com or by calling Bowe at 293-1988.