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Missouri Breaks Triathlon brings friends together

Posted at 11:38 AM, Jul 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-08 13:38:53-04
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6W5VElBIkE?rel=0&showinfo=0]

People from across the state raced to the finish line for the first ever Missouri Breaks Triathlon in Fort Benton and Loma on Saturday.

The Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument and the Bureau of Land Management teamed up to create the event in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was created to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations, according to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Teams and solo participants had to kayak or canoe for 20 miles, then run in a 5K foot race and finish with a 20-mile bike ride.

Among the participants was an unlikely pair as over 1,000 miles usually separates Valerie Stacey and Jane Eleff.

Stacey moved to Montana from Michigan, but made a stop in Indiana to see her former college professor on the way.

“We just got to talking about Montana and I just kept saying, ‘Oh my gosh, Montana is amazing, you’ll love it, you have to come.’ She loves the outdoors and loves hiking and kayaking and all of those things,” said Stacey. “I was like, ‘You have to come to Montana,’ but it was kind of one of those things you just say to people, you know? You don’t actually know if it’s going to stick or not.”

But it did stick and before Stacey knew it, they were signed up for a triathlon.

“This triathlon happened to fall in that same time frame and I just said, ‘Let’s do a triathlon and then go on a backpacking trip.’ So, she might never want to visit me again because I’m putting her through the ringer, but no, I think she’ll enjoy it,” said Stacey.

It didn’t take much to convince Eleff either.

“What sold me on this, is of course, this beautiful portion through the Missouri Breaks River and paddling instead of swimming is, well I figured two out of the three events are sitting, so we’re paddling and biking so, it sounded like a triathlon I could do,” said Eleff.

But they’re no strangers to adventures—bonding while studying abroad in Ecuador, where their friendship began.

“She just became a very close friend to me on that trip,” said Stacey. “We really connected. We’d take walks through the rainforest and we got to explore the Galápagos Islands together and that trip really bonded us.”

Stacey expects the same from the triathlon, and while Eleff isn’t too confident on their chances, she agrees.

“I think it will bring us closer together because we accomplished something great together,” said Stacey.

“We are not going to win the race, but we’re going to have a heck of a time,” said Eleff.

Stacey finished the race in 6 hours, 39 minutes and 46 seconds.

Eleff wasn’t far behind finishing in 7 hours, 13 minutes and 42 seconds.

For the full results, you can visit here.

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