By Mike Maltais
When contestants gathered along the shore of Lake Chelan for the first leg – a 400-meter swim – of the ChelanMan Try-A-Tri (Try-a-Triathlon) July 21, 10-year-old Winthrop resident Liv (pronounced “leave”) Aspholm might have looked a trifle out of place among the mostly adult lineup.
Aspholm, all of 4 feet, 5 inches tall and tipping the scales at 63 pounds soaking wet, isn’t someone you’d expect to find in a triathlon, even an abbreviated version. But the tenacious fifth-grader at Methow Valley Elementary had done her homework, so to speak, and was ready to rumble.
Aspholm not only finished the swim, the 13.1-mile bike ride and the 3.1-mile run but did so with flying colors, placing second among youngsters aged 15 and under and 95th overall out of 122 finishers. Her time of 1:57:43 was less than two seconds behind a 15-year-old who won her division.
The path that led Aspholm, daughter of David and Margo Aspholm, to Chelan began in the fourth-grade class of teacher Kelley Van Bueren earlier this year. Van Bueren announced to her charges that she was going to spend part of her summer training for the ChelanMan event. Right then and there Aspholm decided she would also. All she had to do was get prepared physically and mentally for an ordeal she had never tried before, and she had less than two months to do it.
“I run a lot,” Aspholm said, so that part of the challenge didn’t concern her. In fact she’s already a veteran of several local distance trail events.
“I’ve run a 5K before,” Aspholm said. “I’ve done the Mazama 5K, the Sunflower, and the Rattler.”
Aspholm admitted that of the three skills requisite for her ChelanMan event her weakest was swimming, so with Patterson Lake a convenient five minutes away from home she headed there to get in some strokes.
“I could swim but not super great,” Aspholm said. “After a couple of days of getting used to the water I usually swam at least 400 meters.”
She even enlisted the advice of Bo Thrasher, who helps out the Methow Valley Killer Whales, for some suggestions on improving her technique.
“Bo helped me a lot with my freestyle,” Aspholm recalled of the improvement to her strokes and breathing.
Even though the young competitor had her triathlon debut looming she still had to work in training sessions between other activities like horseback riding and music lessons. During the school year she also finds time for soccer and Nordic skiing.
“I biked a lot with my dad,” Aspholm said. “And I tried to practice about every day.”
When ChelanMan day arrived, Aspholm donned a wet suit to compensate for Lake Chelan’s colder waters.
“Just about everybody was wearing one,” she said. “A few swimmers didn’t but they looked really cold at the end.”
Aspholm was in the first of three waves of swimmers and emerged from the water “in about the middle of the pack” after being in the water 17 minutes, 37 seconds.
The bike leg “seemed to take forever,” Aspholm recalled of the 13.1-mile paved course. “I was using my mountain bike and a lot of riders had road bikes.”
Even though the temperature hovered around 100 degrees, Aspholm breezed through the bike course in just over an hour at an average speed of 12 miles per hour.
The 3-mile run is an aspect of the Try-A-Tri that Aspholm particularly remembers. She finished in just under a half hour but found the course “a little hard on my feet. I’m used to running trails, not paved roads,” Aspholm said.
She says she’ll be back next year.