Bitterroot competitors urged to give it a ‘tri’

By RUSS LAWRENCE – For the Ravalli Republic

Registration is still open, and space remains available for this Saturday’s 9th Annual Bitterroot Classic Triathlon in Hamilton. The competition is a fun, family-friendly community event for athletes and participants of all ages and performance levels.

The triathlon takes place on Aug. 9 at the Bitterroot Aquatic Center, and is considered a “sprint” triathlon because of the distances – a 750-yard swim, 12-mile bike ride and 5K run. Racers can participate as solo athletes, or as a team of two or three. There is also a Junior Race for kids under 13 years old, with shorter distances for competitors, and a Kids Fun Race that is open to the youngest kids.

The first heats start at 8 a.m., and the race concludes with two heats of “elite” racers. The Juniors Race is limited to a single heat (24 racers), and takes place midway through the event. The Fun Race will take place after the Elite heats.

The cost to register for adults is $50 for solo athletes, and $135 for a team. The Junior Race entry is $25.

Proceeds from this year’s event will support Emma’s House Children’s Advocacy Center.

Since its inception, the Bitterroot Classic Triathlon has raised more than $80,000 for organizations supporting children’s needs in Ravalli County. They receive tremendous help from an all-volunteer organizing committee, and many local business sponsors. Their goal is to provide “a positive, uplifting way to bring the community together in support of local organizations that help families in need, throughout our community.”

“This is a great community event that supports health and wellness for kids and families,” said Valerie Widmer, Executive Director of Emma’s House. “A safe community for kids is one that is connected by neighbors, local businesses and community resources. We have several new sponsors this year and we are grateful for their support,” she said, adding, “Join in the fun! You’re never too old – or too young – to Tri!”

Information on the race and registration is available online at Online registration closes at noon on Thursday, but racers can still sign up in person during race packet pickup, Friday, Aug. 8, from 3:30-6:30 p.m., or before the race from 6-7 a.m. Saturday, at the Bitterroot Aquatic Center.

Prizes are awarded for the top three finishers in each age group, and for the top three teams. The race also includes two “elite” heats, for top athletes. Presentation of awards will take place at a post-race party at the Aquatic Center, where participants will also be eligible for merchandise drawings.

Each participant will receive a “swag bag” with small gifts donated by local merchants and sponsors.

Emma’s House Children’s Advocacy Center provides a safe place for children and families to talk to professionals about child abuse and neglect. They help to coordinate investigation and intervention services, with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in law enforcement, prosecution, mental health, child and family services, and medicine, in a child-focused approach. Emma’s House is one of five such centers in Montana, and is the only one in the state that operates independently of a hospital or another agency.

In cases of alleged or suspected abuse, Emma’s House offers a one-on-one, recorded forensic interview with a trained interviewer, so the child only has to tell their account of the abuse or neglect once; a medical exam and well-child checkup, and follow-up counseling when needed, all at no cost to the child’s family or investigating agencies.

For more information on the Bitterroot Classic Triathlon, visit their website,, or contact organizer Mark Butler at (406) 363-0514 or

Hannah Honey