After nearly seven years of working in Idaho Falls, I finally got to cover the annual Multisport Weekend at Rigby Lake. It was one of the earliest mornings I’ve had since returning to the U.S. from Germany, but it did not disappoint.
I’ve interviewed the Liddles before, but had never seen them compete before until today. It was quite the sight to behold, and I can definitely see why this triathlon has become so well known due to the number of participants.
Thanks to Brad Barlow for the awesome photos.
Fast fun at annual Rigby Triathlon
By MARLOWE HEREFORD
RIGBY-As participants entered the water to begin the sprint triathlon at Saturday’s annual Multisport Weekend at Rigby Lake, event director Gray Augustus had a few final pointers to share.
One of them was, “If you are a first-time participant or a youth not with the last name Liddle, come see me.”
Less than 11 minutes after Augustus signaled the start with an airhorn, the name “Liddle” was being cheered as Jaiden and Tayla Liddle were the first sprint triathletes out of the water.
Jaiden Liddle, 12, surfaced first with older sister Tayla, an incoming sophomore at Idaho Falls High School, right behind. Tayla reached her bike first, however, upon shedding her wetsuit faster.
The brother and sister kept it competitive and both improved their finishes from last year’s Multisport Weekend. Tayla finished in one hour, nine minutes, 55 seconds for second place overall and first place female in sprint for the second consecutive year while Jaiden completed the course in 1:17:25 for fourth overall and third place male. Last year, Tayla was fifth overall in 1:15:02 and Jaiden was 12th overall in 1:21:13.
Both competitive swimmers, Tayla and Jaiden grew up watching their parents Jim and Stephanie compete in Multisport Weekend until they and older sister Shaylee were old enough to participate. Saturday wasn’t quite as nervewracking as last year, however, when Tayla entered Multisport Weekend with added motivation to not let Jaiden catch her as he almost did at the Bengal Triathlon.
“He was a little bit farther behind me this year at Bengal,” Tayla said. “I was actually beating my mom.”
They received hugs from Shaylee upon finishing Saturday as well as from Stephanie after she repeated as female champion of the Olympic triathlon course in 2:23:04. Owner of Performance Therapy, Stephanie confirmed that Tayla was leading her at the Bengal Triathlon, which is a sprint course. Stephanie’s specialty is cycling while her kids’ specialty is swimming, and she caught Tayla on the bike.
“She runs track so I thought she was gonna kick my trash,” Stephanie said with a laugh. “I caught her going uphill.”
As competitive as the Liddles are, they are supportive of each other. The inaugural Multisport Weekend in 2006 was the first triathlon for Jim and Stephanie, and they allowed their children to complete one section of Rigby’s course per year before being old enough to complete it entirely. In that time, Tayla and Jaiden went from being intimidated by open water to not thinking anything of it.
“I used to be afraid of fish,” Tayla said with a laugh. “I thought sharks were in the water.”
“I’d just stand outside the water for a while before getting in,” Jaiden added.
Triathlon remains a family affair for the Liddles, who have never missed Multisport Weekend. Although Jim and Shaylee couldn’t compete Saturday due to recent injuries, they paddle boarded out to monitor the triathletes during the swim portion and were waiting for Tayla, Jaiden and Stephanie when they finished.
“It’s awesome seeing your kids do something you love,” Stephanie said.
Saturday was also a family affair for both overall triathlon champions. Wearing a customized USA suit from an international triathlon in Chicago three years ago, Ryan Ellis of Ammon repeated as sprint triathlon champion in 1:00:44. His wife, Katie, also competed Saturday, placing fifth in sprint in 1:19:28.
“She’s been a runner for a while,” Ellis said. “She got me thinking about making the jump to triathlons.”
Ellis, whose children were cheering him and Katie on from the finish area, said he looks forward to Multisport Weekend because of the support.
“They’ve always done such a great job putting this on,” Ellis said. “It’s great to see so many people you know.”
The Olympic triathlon title went to Robert Reese of Dallas, Tex., in 2:17:19. He had a considerable crowd of adults and children waiting for him at the finish.
“These are my nephews and that’s my son,” Reese said, gesturing to the young supporters around him. “I have a lot of family in Rigby.”
Reese said he enjoyed his first Multisport Weekend. A triathlete of 10 years, he is currently on vacation in eastern Idaho.
“It’s a fast course,” Reese said. “Hopefully it continues to grow.”
Brian Weissinger (1:27:20) took first in aquabike and Carolyn Weber (1:18:42) took first in duathlon.
Top five results from each division
*full results at https://tinyurl.com/y89puvdv
1, Robert Reese 2:17:19; 2, Stephanie Liddle 2:23:04; 3, Karen Appleby 2:31:17; 4, Richard Voelkel 2:37:15; 5, Mike Taylor 2:39:00
1, Ryan Ellis, 1:00:44; 2, Tayla Liddle, 1:09:55; 3, Bryan Storer, 1:16:54; 4; Jaiden Liddle 1:17:25; 5, Katie Ellis, 1:19:28
1, Team Haas 2:45:25; 2. Mccane 3:24:08
1, Brian Weissinger 1:27:20; 2, Susan Binegar 2:06:36; 3. Kim Croft 2:14:56
1, Carolyn Weber 1:18:42; 2, Heidi Marlow 1:27:49; 3, Philip Birks 1:31:38; 4, Cameron Bryan 1:37:04; 5. Don Mackay 1:45:12