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WINNER: Bill Raitter of Bend crosses the finish line in two hours, 27 minutes and 48 seconds in the inaugural Solstice Triathlon Saturday at Morgan Lake. ().
WINNER: Bill Raitter of Bend crosses the finish line in two hours, 27 minutes and 48 seconds in the inaugural Solstice Triathlon Saturday at Morgan Lake. ().

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

The bike portion of Saturday's Solstice Triathlon at Morgan Lake was only 20 kilometers — about 13 miles — but winner Bill Raitter of Bend could have sworn it was longer than that.

"I hit every arrow, every checkpoint. I didn't get lost, but it just seemed like 20 miles out there," Raitter said while cooling down in Morgan Lake after completing the rugged three-sport event in two hours, 27 minutes, 48 seconds.

The inaugural Solstice Triathlon drew 46 entrants, 41 of whom finished the 0.6-mile swim, 13-mile bike ride and 6-mile run. About a dozen of them were competing for points on the XTERRA America series, a circuit of 32 races from Alaska to Florida.

Because of the XTERRA connection, racers from as far away as California and Colorado came to Morgan Lake for the event.

Raitter was competing in his first XTERRA race.

"I like XTERRA because you don't know what to expect," Raitter said, noting that you can be riding on a smooth path and "next thing you know you're going through rocks that just bounce you off the bike."

Ned Hastings of Pasco, Wash., got bounced off his bike on a downhill part of the course, scraping his knee.

"There was somebody right in front of me. I couldn't slow down," said Hastingsm who disqualified himself because he missed a turn and skipped part of the course.

The event started at Morgan Lake, with swimmers donning wetsuits and completing a triangular loop through the lake. The first swimmers finished in less than 15 minutes, then raced to their waiting bikes, where they quickly got out of their wetsuits and hopped on their bikes, often changing their shoes once they were on the course.

The bike course looped around the Glass Hill Road area; much of it was a single-track course with plenty of ups and downs. A barbed wire fence had to be crossed at one point, and a 30-foot downhill shoot had to be managed.

By the time racers switched from their bikes to their running shoes, they were running mostly on adrenaline.

"Right now, they're out of their mind and they're on adrenaline mode, they're in competitive mode. They don't know where they are, they don't know what they're doing," said Woody Hoye, regional representative for the XTERRA America Tour.

The run was just as challenging; the course did not steer competitors away from the rocks that dot the landscape around the lake in the hills southwest of La Grande.

"It was fun. The run was really challenging, with a lot of boulders and stuff," said Kayleen Uibel, of Spokane, who was the first woman to complete the course, in about two hours, 45 minutes.

This wasn't a sport for the unprepared. Racers had to be self-sufficient, which meant they needed a wetsuit for the swim, their own bike with spare tires and a pump, shoes for the different events, and their own water, although water was supplied at the transition stations.

Raitter considers himself a professional road racer, but he's looking for a sponsor for the triathlons.

"I can't really afford this. I'm a pizza driver. I had to borrow some old guy's wetsuit," he said. "If you spent for the best stuff, you could spend $10,000."

Still, he enjoys the triathlons more.

"I get sick of track races and all the hype. This is good for the soul."

Solstice Triathlon

Saturday, at Morgan Lake

Times unavailable

1, Bill Raitter, Bend, 2:27:48. 2, Denny Dragen, Bend. 3, Karl Umiker, Moscow, Idaho. 4, Doug Smith, Boise. 5, Andy Fectau, Bend. 6, Fred Huxham, Ross, Calif. 7, Michael Sexton, Fairfax, Calif. 8, Thomas Hayes, Seattle. 9, Kayleen Uibel, Spokane. 10, Steve Brower, Bend.

11, Rob Noyes, Dillon, Colo. 12, Heath Wescot, Bend. 13, Scott Temple, Portland. 14, Curtis St. Michael, Idaho Falls, Idaho. 15, Laura Huggins, Ed Huggins, Kim Mahaffey, Baker City. 16, Jim Long, San Francisco. 17, Mike Mora, Bend. 18, David Thompson, Bend. 19, Adam Lueck, Fort Collins, Colo. 20, Dylan Owens, Bend.

21, Steve Mattis, Bend. 22, Greg Luke, Walla Walla. 23, David Lawless, Spokane. 24, David Stone, Bay City. 25, Jason Mattox, Bend. 26, Owen Kenton, Korrie Dubray, La Grande. 27, Dylan Petrovic, Port Orchard, Wash. 28, David Abbot, Spokane. 29, Paul Harding, Vancouver, Wash. 30, Damon Shaefer, Beaverton.

31, Robin De Ruwe, Spokane. 32, Michael Bennett, Boise. 33, Mary Ellen LaBerge, La Grande. 34, Alyssa Reischauer, La Grande. 35, John Martinez, Milpitas, Calif. 36, Kristen Luke, Walla Walla. 37, Grant Martinez, Milpitas, Calif. 38, Martha Tsiatsos, La Grande. 39, Lindy Mount, Portland. 40, James Blanco, Pendleton. 41, Jud Morris, Spokane.

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