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Spring Valley trio wins triathlon

SPRING VALLEY - Not bad for a bunch of beginners.

The very beginning.

The members of the We Tri team were competing in their first-ever triathlon, the second annual Wingman Triathlon in fact, held back on Aug. 15 in Red Wing.

But the members of the team were no strangers to each other. Eighteen-year olds Shanna Ellefson, Hannah Kiefer and Chelsey Turner had grown up together in Spring Valley and gone to school together. And just before they would go their separate ways to college after graduating last spring, they decided to embark on a final mission together.

"We wanted to do one last thing before we went to college," Turner said. "By training together, cheering each other on and participating in this event, it made for one awesome experience and one awesome summer."

Shanna started the race by swimming 10 laps and handing off her timing chip to Hannah who biked almost 13 miles and then handed off her timing chip to Chelsey who ran a 5K. The chip was carried in an ankle brace attached by velcro.

Turner was a top-flight runner in high school and a natural to do the running portion of the race. Shanna was chosen to swim by default.

"We needed someone for the swimming part," Kiefer said. "Chelsey was the one who found out about it and since neither of us could swim and Shanna had a pool, we recruited her."

Ellefson hadn't swam in a lap situation since swimming lessons in the third grade but, having the pool, she decided join the team. She surprised her self by how well the competition went.

"I hadn't swam laps in a long time before I started training in July," Ellefson said. "I had to swim 10 laps down and back in a 500-meter pool. It helped a lot to have them there cheering me on."

The bike part wasn't easy either. The hills throughout the Red Wing area made it a tough course, but one Kiefer was prepared for.

"I'm glad I did train hard for it because it was a difficult ride." Kiefer said.

When it was over with, the trio couldn't believe they made through the triathlon itself, let alone win it.

"It was an amazing experience," Ellefson said. "It felt good to be able to do something like this."

Good enough to where they may try it again next summer.

"We're excited about doing it again," Turner said. "We may switch off to different events but I'm sure it will be just as fun."

Indeed all three said the experience made them closer friends even though they are off to different colleges. Turner will attend UW-River Falls, Kiefer UW-La Crosse and Ellefson UM-Duluth.