Participants in the 2023 Chile Harvest Triathlon started out their event under a partly cloudy Socorro skyline but temperatures rose to 102 degrees.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

The 2023 Chile Harvest Triathlon was dominated by the performance of Albuquerque’s Terry Casey, who finished first overall with a clocking of 1:01.49, well ahead of the event’s top male competitor Robert Browning’s 1:04.05.

With more than 175 athletes participating as individuals or teams, Casey’s first-place finish came without another competitor in sight when she crossed the finish line. It was even more impressive considering Casey is 43, and third place went to 28-year-old Luis Martinez with a 1:04.46 mark.

Maria Graciela Garcia was Socorro’s top competitor, with 7th place and a very respectable time of 1:08.08.

The Chile Harvest Triathlon is an annual event that is the brainchild of Socorro’s Striders and Riders, who sponsor the event that brings athletes from more than 400 miles away to take part.

For many of Socorro’s residents taking part in the triathlon, it wasn’t about the times recorded but the time enjoyed with their friends and fellow competitors. If there’s one truth about triathlon competition, it’s generally better done with some encouragement.

“This is my first one,” Dianne King said. “I signed up two days ago.”

King was competing as part of a team where one person swam, another biked, and a third ran the final portion of the event. It’s a great way to introduce people to competition without overwhelming them with a full-scale triathlon.

Magdalena’s Jessica Carranza pulls on her biking gear.

There’s little need for planning or training for the timing bracelet’s transition.

“They just said run out to my teammate and give him the ankle bracelet,” King said.

Having moved here just a few months ago, King is a newer resident of Socorro, and a friend thought it would be a great way to get out and meet others.

“Last year, we had a bunch of friends in our group who did it, and this year not so many people. Diana actually just moved to Socorro a couple of months ago, and this is a great way to get her involved in stuff,” Amy Kimball said.

Kimball’s not a triathlon veteran yet, but with three events under her belt, including two in Socorro, she’s got some valuable experience.

“I had a friend talk me into doing it the first year,” Kimball said, and her 2023 efforts produced a time of 1:36.48.

The pair spent their time waiting to get into the swimming pool by chatting it up with Denver, Colorado’s Marta Pap. As a member Southwest Triathlon Series, Pap traveled to Socorro to participate.

“This is my eighth or ninth triathlon. We drove down yesterday and spent the night. I haven’t been here before, and Socorro is a really nice town,” Pap said.

Socorro High School head girls soccer coach Amanda Saenz was another local athlete trying her first-time triathlon, and she was recruited into taking part by fellow coach Dezirae Armijo who took part in her first Chile Harvest Triathlon last year.

“She got me into this,” Saenz said as she pointed at Armijo.

“Did you point at me?” Armijo asked with a laugh.

With work and coaching taking up so much of their time, neither coach had launched into serious training for the event.

“I haven’t gotten to train as much as I would have liked. So, this will be more of a mental thing for me,” Armijo said.

Socorro’s Beth Cadol watches as volunteers guide triathletes at the Chile Harvest Triathlon on Saturday.

Saenz offered some advice for others who might be interested in taking on a triathlon but have been holding back.

“Go out and do hard things. Like, it’s okay to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I’m going to be 29 this year. So I’m in my last year, my last year of my 20s. But we must find those different challenges we can still do it. We still play soccer and basketball, but it’s just a different element of hard for us now, like finding what our next journey or next part is,” Saenz said.

Armijo loves promoting Socorro, and she likes seeing events like this in her hometown.

“Socorro’s Striders and Riders have put this together, and they have all the volunteers and established the camaraderie that goes with it,” Armijo said. “As Amanda said, being out of our comfort zone is great. This is one of the many things that we try to do during the year to get out of our comfort zone.”

Socorro area individual finishers

  1. Maria Graciela Garcia, 1:08.08; 33. Andrea Simmons, 1:20.26; 39. Michael Hargather, 1:22.47; 50. Matt Johnson, 1:24.35; 55. Trista Hughes, 1:26.32; 58. Jessica Carranza, 1:27.46 85. Amy Kimball, 1:36.48; 87. Katherine Burleigh, 1:38.23; 98. Dezirae Armijo, 1:44.07; 107. Amanda Saenz, 1:51.44.

Socorro team finishes

  1. Panam Team 1;13.23; 4. Meow Maos, 1:24.38; 5. The Lemitar Chicks 1:25.57; 6, Duck! Duck! Goose!, 1:27.20; 8. 3D, 1:29.11; 9. Quick Koalas, 1:37.05; 10. Bar Flies, 1:38.46; 11. Team Worth A Tri, 1:53.05.