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102311 linsey corbin

Missoula triathlete Linsey Corbin runs on a trail in Missoula in 2010.

One of the many locals helping with the Missoula Marathon is a woman who probably deserves to sleep in on Sunday morning.

But there’s no way she’s missing out on a chance to pass out cool beverages and crank out energizing music in front of her home on the race route. She hopes to be inspired by some great performances, which is a sweet and humble thing to say considering she’s the ultimate inspiration.

She’s Linsey Corbin, western Montana’s most visible female athlete worldwide. The pro triathlete just got back from Europe where she won Ironman Austria last Sunday in 9 hours, 9 minutes, 58 seconds.

“I think it all came together because I had some great fitness leading into the event thanks to training in Missoula,” said Corbin, who never misses a chance to praise her adopted home and its inhabitants. “I also think there was a little bit of luck on my side along with a few things in my favor – a technical bike course and hot weather.”

Hot as in 100 degrees, enough to blister a person’s feet just walking the pavement. Technical as in tricky bike route that favored those who did their homework.

“I think making a move during the second half of the bike helped set me up for the win,” Corbin said. “I was able to put in a surge on the hilly portion and I broke away from the group I was riding with to be in the lead of the race.”

With oppressive heat challenging the moxie of every competitor, Linsey focused on nutrition and hydration in the final marathon leg of the race. Her cushion was less than a minute with three miles left.

“I thought it’s time to dig deep and put it on the line,” she said. “Worst-case scenario, I would have blown up and had to walk and got second.

“Luckily for me with the power of a positive mindset, some adrenaline and being close to the finish, I really picked it up and probably ran the best I had all day. I really wanted to win.”

In some ways Corbin surprised herself, willing her way to victory with runner-up Erika Csomor of Hungary pushing her every step of the marathon. It wasn’t just a physical test but a spiritual journey. She drew on the strength of her grandpa, who was raised in Vienna, Austria, and died a year ago after making his mark with a relentless approach to life.

For anyone who has ever experienced the odyssey that is a long-distance race – whether it be a triathlon or marathon – there is that moment when you either back off or redline. To the courageous and well-prepared go the spoils. Linsey was both.

By the end of Ironman Austria it was so hot that Chris Corbin’s phone malfunctioned and he couldn’t shoot a photo of his wife crossing the finish line. No big deal though because Linsey will never forget the hordes of cheering fans and the confetti raining down.

The 31-year-old Corbin was understandably dead tired afterward. She still found the energy to salute the crowd with her cowboy hat. It’s her trademark way of celebrating the state she holds dear.

Whether you follow triathlons or not, it’s hard to recall a more inspiring athletic effort by a Zootowner on foreign soil. The bonus for Linsey was getting back home just in time to enjoy the Missoula Marathon and the many friends she’s made in the running community.

“I travel a lot to some incredible venues,” the American Ironman record holder said. “I can honestly say nothing compares to Missoula. Every time the plane lands here I breathe a sigh of relief to be back in Montana.”

Bill Speltz can be reached at 523-5255 or bill.speltz@lee.net.

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