More than 1600 women tough it out in Gold Nugget Triathlon

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) More than 1600 triathletes began the 35th annual Gold Nugget Triathlon on Sunday at Bartlett High School involving a 500 yard swim, 12 mile bike ride and 4 mile run.

A chilly drizzle couldn't dampen the spirits of those willing to test themselves in the race.

It took just 6 minutes for entrants to completely fill spots once registration began.

Betsy Haines, a board member for the triathlon attributes some of the race's popularity to the swimming component being held in a pool.

"It has a shallow end and so, for people who aren't quite sure about the swimming portion they're in a warm place, if they panic they can stop, but it's really inviting," Haines said. "It's just so incredibly supportive and so the word gets out and it fills up fast," Haines said.

A veteran triathlete herself, Haines has participated in the race for 21 years.

Haines said every year between 400 and 500 new racers give it a go.

"It's fantastic because the mission is really to empower women and girls through the achievement, so not only is it completing the event, but it's all the training and everything they have to do through the year and the discipline that you get from that can change your life," Haines said.

Kinsey Laine, of Fairbanks, became the first triathlete to cross the finish line with a time of 1:04:23.

" This is my 3rd year competing in this race, I've been competing in triathlons for 5 years," Laine said. "As far as race strategy for a race this short, it's just go as fast and as hard as you can the entire way, there really isn't any holding back in an hour long race."

Laine said most of the triathlons she runs are about 5 hours long.

Megan Chelf, who crossed the line third and a 4 year GNT veteran, said the race draws women back year after year because it's open to everyone.

"I think it's because it reaches out to every kind of woman, there's people who are elite and train for like basically a living to do this and then there's women who just wanna do it once and know that they can and so it's empowering and just the energy it's so positive it's encouraging," Chelf said.

Joanne Allan said the support along the way and camaraderie could be another reason the race is so popular.

"Everybody's cheering everybody on, it's a really good atmosphere and everybody's just looking out for everybody else and yeah it's really fun, it's a good event," Allan said.

Racers will continue competing in waves throughout Sunday until 6 p.m.

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