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High Country Running: New Mountain Man owners blend tradition, improvements

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Two sisters and their husbands go into business to buy one of the oldest triathlons in the country, and now must work together to promote and run it. Sound stressful?

“No, it has been great working together,” said Rachel Buzzard, one of those sisters. “Having four of us run the company, we all have our areas that we are in charge of. We also can bounce ideas off each other and veto someone if they have a ridiculous idea.”

The company is Mountain Man Events, LLC, and consists of Rachel and Brian Buzzard, and Rebekah and Sean Ryan. After purchasing the race portfolio from founders Eddie and Kate Carlin last year, they are now in charge of the 32nd Mountain Man Triathlon at Lake Mary. The sprint is July 10, the Olympic and half-Iron are Aug. 14, with relay options available in all three.

The race is both personal and a great business opportunity, according to the new owners. It’s the fifth oldest tri west of the Mississippi River, and in December was chosen by Complete Tri as one of the top 10 destination tris. Thanks to the Carlins it has maintained a distinctive Flagstaff vibe over the years. Mountain Man Events wants to build on the tradition while making upgrades that will continually improve the experience for participants and sponsors.

“We were inspired to buy this event because we are all triathletes ourselves, we wanted the opportunity to direct a high-quality event, and we wanted Mountain Man to stay as a local family-run business,” said Rachel, a graduate of the Flagstaff Leadership Program Class of 2016. “We are family, all grew up here in Flagstaff and went to Flagstaff High School. Mountain Man was one of the first triathlons that we all competed in and helped inspire us to get more involved in multisport.”

The Buzzards and Ryans have created a new website and gotten the event more involved in social media. There will be free race photos for participants this year. The new owners are also committed to more volunteers and signage on the course, a big post-race celebration and involving more of the local business community, including Boy Scouts, Pay ‘n Take, Taverna, Findlay Toyota, Absolute Bikes, Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course and Sprouts, among others.

“Short-term we did not want to change too much other than make some small adjustments to make this great race better, and a fun and challenging weekend for athletes,” Rachel said. “Long-term, we want Mountain Man to grow into one of the top triathlons in the state. We have the best location and want to take advantage of that. We want to make the race a weekend event with dinners and talks with pros.”

Early-bird pricing on all events goes up on Friday June 10. Athletes can register at, and more information on the events and volunteering is at

“Flagstaff has a fantastic environment and culture for endurance sports, and Mountain Man ensures that triathlons are provided here in Northern Arizona,” Rachel said. “We hope to keep that going.”

Sounds like a good way to keep Mountain Man in the Flagstaff family for many years.

Myles Schrag is coordinating editor for High Country Running. He invites submissions on any aspect of the local running scene. He can be reached at


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