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Living out of a van with no immediate place to call home, Rebecca Duffy's only hurry Sunday was toward the finish line. 

The 29-year-old Illinois native heard about Sunday's 2012 Winter Triathlon National Championship at Homestake Lodge southeast of Butte while in the Big Sky area recently and decided to enter.

"This sounded like my sort of thing," Duffy said just before the race, adding that she travels with her gear and snow chains, which allow her to reach outdoor destinations throughout the west. "I pick places based on their proximity to ski lifts and trails."

Sunday's triathlon included about 50 competitors, including a mix of locals and out-of-state residents. Helena attorney Mike Wolfe took first place in the men's portion of the race while Colorado resident Rebecca Dussault, who won the world winter triathlon two years ago, claimed first place among the women.

Dussault said the course was challenging and that she enjoyed competing at Homestake, owned by Chris

and Mandy Axelson.

"This is the most spectacular place I have ever done a winter triathlon," she said, shortly after crossing the finish line.

Wolfe said he enjoys both biking and running, but that the competition was his first triathlon.

"It was just super fun; I've never done anything like it," he said. "The diversity and the transitions just make it fun."

The competition began at 10 a.m. with a 5-kilometer run, followed by a 10-kilometer mountain bike and 5-kilometer cross-country ski, all on snow-covered and sometimes icy trails at Homestake.

Wolfe, 34, was first to cross the finish line in about 1 hour, 10 minutes.

Isaac Fritz, 24, drove from the Billings area to compete in the championship and spend some time outdoors amidst unseasonably-warm temperatures.

"This is cool, a bunch of people running around out in the woods," he said. "Plus, this is a national event - there are going to be some big-name people out here."

The top three competitors in each age group qualified for Team USA for the 2012 ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships in Jämijärvi, Finland on March 24-25, 2012.

A lack of snow in the northeastern United States prompted USA Triathlon to shift the event to the Powder Hound Winter Triathlon at Homestake.

- Reporter Justin Post may be reached at Justin.post@lee.net or (406)496-5572. Follow him at Twitter.com/@MT_JustinPost.

 

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