Locals take top awards at triathlon

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Contestants gathered early Saturday morning at Sedillo Park by the municipal pool for the annual Socorro Chile Harvest Triathlon. Participants 14 and under up to those in their 70s, some more fit than others, and one in a wheel chair showed up to what many of them called the best organized and well-run triathlon in the state. The swim is 400 meters, the bike course is 20 kilometers and the run is 5 kilometers.

The children’s version of the Chile Harvest Triathlon competition was held on the previous evening and some of the same younger contestants also competed in the adult event, which is also categorized by age group.

The men’s winner in the Socorro Chile Harvest Triathlon is Matthew Napier seen in the darker T-shirt. Frankie Benavidez crossed the finish line first but then learned that his time earned him second place among the men’s competition, 13 seconds behind Napier.

Matt Napier won the overall male contest with a time of 56:34 beating his closest competitor Frankie Benavidez by 13 seconds. Devon Webb finished third in the male 14 and under category with a time of 1:20:13. Charles Perkins III placed first in the male 18-19 group with a total time of 1:11:07. New Mexico Tech students William Kessler and Patrick Rodriguez placed first and third respectively in the male 20-24 group with times of 1:00:28 and 1:05:52. Steven Montoya placed first among males 35-39 with a time of 1:03:00 and his older brother Michael Montoya placed second among males 40-44 with a time of 1:01:54.

Champions are Terry Moore Casey in the middle taking first place honors for the women at the Socorro Chile Harvest Triathlon on Saturday morning. In the sunglasses Kim Carlsen, who finished second and, in the white T-shirt, Anna Luna, who placed third in the event

Native Socorroan Terry Moore Casey placed first in the female overall winner group with a time of 1:05:08. Her closest female competitor Kim Carlsen finished second to Casey with a time of 1:07:21. Sisters Alyssa Higgs and Jennell Higgs finished first and second respectively in the female 20-24 group with times of 1:12:31 and 1:20:39. Melinda Napier finished third in the female 35-39 group with a time of 1:18:34. Complete race results are available a www.chasing3.com. Casey was the overall female winner.

Race dDirector Robert Gonzales, a New Mexico Tech employee, said the race went off without a hitch.

“Going by the comments we got from all the participants, they all enjoyed the race,” Gonzales said. “They (the contestants) also commented on the excellent help they got from the volunteers. The volunteers made the participants feel welcome. That’s the important thing.”

Being a racer himself, Gonzales said he feels he has a perspective and an appreciation of what people like, and that helps him make logistical improvements every year. This year the location for the “packet pickup” was moved to the Holiday Inn Express for the convenience of all contestants. Previously the pickup and some registrations were done in a big tent at the event site too often marred by nasty weather blowing things around.

“That was a change, we weren’t sure how it was going to work out but it did,” he said. “People liked the change, it was clean, and people were more relaxed. If they can take the time to come to Socorro we want to make things as convenient for them as we can. I’ve gotten comments from participants that this is the best organized and best run race in the state.”

Gonzales and other race officials, participants and spectators all expressed their appreciation and paid tribute to the sponsors and volunteers who make the race possible.

Socorroan Terry Moore Casey is among the first to exit the water and moves to the bike portion of the race next. She placed first among the women overall in the Socorro Chile Harvest Triathlon, adding another championship to her many athletic accomplishments.

One the more visible volunteers was race announcer Ephraim Ford, an employee of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, who helped spectators and contestants alike through the race process adding colorful commentary to the event and identifying participant, and cheering them on in and about the transition area and prompting them so as to avoid penalties.

“My swim felt pretty good,” Casey said. “I was riding my road bike instead of my 10/12 bike so it was a little hard but overall, it was an awesome race. My time was a little bit slower (than last year’s race) especially on the bike portion.

In April in a competition in New Orleans, Casey qualified for and will compete in the Half Iron Man World Championship in Las Vegas Nevada held Sept. 8.

“This race is awesome; it’s probably one of the best run races in the state. There are volunteers along the courses on every corner from start to finish. They do a good job. They tell us what direction to go, hand us water and cheer us on. You don’t see so many volunteers out like that at other races.”

The contestants who placed first second or third are Socorro residents, former residents or New Mexico Tech students.