Amateur radio operators play key role in triathlon

Posted at 3:54 PM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 17:54:26-04

GREAT FALLS – After weeks of training, athletes from all over the state competed in the Race Montana Triathlon in Great Falls on Sunday.

All competitors started in the pool, headed to the bike portion, and finished off the last leg with a run.

There were different groups for different difficulties like the Olympic Distance course, Sprint Distance, Youth Long and Short, and even the Try a Tri.

Along the course, there were several volunteers in yellow vests who served a very special purpose.

They’re called amateur radio operators and their job was to communicate throughout part of the course to one another.

Amateur radio, which is commonly referred to as ham radio, was the beginning of radios.

Some of the cycling course goes into unpopulated areas, making this old-fashioned skill extremely valuable.

“Unfortunately, going out that course, Lower River Road, Eden Road, out in the countryside, there are spots where cell coverage are very spotty, but our radio repeater system has good coverage. So we can be out there and be kind of the eyes for the race officials. So if someone is struggling, we can let them know,” said Bruce Clark, an amateur radio operator.

People from the Great Falls Area Amateur Radio Club volunteer every year for the event.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the RET, the Natatorium, and the Gibson Lighting Project.

Keely Baker and Matthew Handwerk took first place in the Sprint Triathlon.

Olivia Gibbons, 10, and Jackson Rothweiler, 9, came in first for the Youth Long Course.

Amanda Manuel and Joel Bischoff won first in the Olympic Distance Course.

To see more standings, click here. To learn more about the radio club, click here.

Reporting by Kaley Collins for MTN News