Hoch nabs 4th straight Leadman crown

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KELLOGG — The 15th annual Leadman Triathlon was last Saturday and Mother Nature gave the competitors everything she had.

Driving rain, muddy conditions, wind and fog were par for the course as the competitors made their way down from Silver Mountain toward the finish line in Kellogg.

Despite foreboding weather conditions, the race grew in popularity and even had some international flair to it this year.

“Race conditions were challenging with fog and rain on top of the mountain, and mud and slick conditions on the bike course,” said Jeff Colburn, Silver Mountain general manager. “This year’s race brought in competitors from throughout the Northwest and Canada as it continues to grow in popularity.”

Two hundred and seven racers tried their hand, but there could only be two overall winners.

The reigning women’s champion, Francine Hoch, brought home her fourth consecutive Leadman crown and with a time of 59:40, she finished with one of the fastest times for either gender.

For Hoch, while the times may improve, the race isn’t getting easier for her.

“Have fun and let it go,” Hoch said. “That was probably my only goal of the race other than to be present in mind and body. I broke an hour last year and wanted to do it again. With age it gets harder, so that’s how I challenge myself and I like to stay in firing range of the men. It hurts more and more though as the years go by.”

For Hoch, these races are about proving herself right, because the toughest competition for her is inside her own head.

“Sometimes you have to get comfortable in the uncomfortable,” Hoch said. “What the mind sees and believes, it will achieve.”

Billy Morse Jr. of Spokane repeated as the men’s champion with a time of 52:29.

The Free Rock 50 team from Pullman, Wash., was the fastest team this year, finishing with a time of 55:07.

Travis Lohr of Osburn was the only other local competitor finishing in the top three, as he placed third in the kid’s division with a time of 1:29:44.

Leadman is a Kellogg Rotary event that raises funds for nonprofits in the local community. Shoshone Medical Foundation, Storm Football, Pinehurst Elementary and the local Special Olympics are just a few of the groups that volunteer their time to help raise funds for its respective organizations.

“A race of this magnitude with three different legs and lots of race gear is a huge undertaking,” said Dale Costa, Kellogg Rotarian and race coordinator. “It is fantastic to see so many people come together and volunteer to help make it possible. It really speaks to the spirit of the community in which we live.”

Leadman has raised approximately $150,000 for local nonprofits over the last 15 years.

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