News: Iron Soldier Sprint Triathlon
Story by Sgt. Jarred Woods
FORT BLISS, Texas – Some people like to swim, others might prefer to ride a bicycle and still others favor running. Yet, more than 300 participants of the Iron Soldier Sprint Triathlon decided to combine all three, putting their physical endurance to the test here Sept. 28.
The events included a 400-meter swim, followed by a 15-mile bicycle ride and ended with a 5-kilometer run.
In stark contrast to a full triathlon, the “sprint” triathlon event distances are much shorter, providing a great opportunity for participants of all skill levels and abilities, said Holly Imbriaco, the varsity and intramural coordinator for Team Bliss, sports, fitness and aquatics.
Competitors were also separated by various age groups ranging from 19-year-olds and under to 70-year-olds and over.
“El Paso and Fort Bliss really don’t have many triathlons,” she added. “We wanted to attract new triathletes from Fort Bliss and the surrounding community.”
Although the event was not a USA Triathlon sanctioned event, official guidelines and rules were followed, she said.
The day’s activities commenced at 7:30 a.m. at the Aquatics Training Center, with an introduction entailing the event rules, routes, and of course, words of encouragement. The participants were then led to the pool area where they were lined up by number to start the 400-meter swim.
With more than 300 people competing and only an eight-lane pool to work with, each person had to start the event individually.
Contestants entered the pool in about 30 second intervals, zigzagging across the pool like a maze until they reached the door leading outside to the next event.
Competitors then ran from the pool, dripping wet, as they switched gears from swimming to bicycle racing. As they donned their riding hardware, with riders sporting everything from professional bicycles to the average department store model, the diversity among participants could be seen.
After the bicycle event, competitors changed modes of transportation once more from biking to running. They then ran a marked route ending near where the race began.
As participants crossed the finish-line, they were greeted by cheering spectators, refreshments and free massages.
The day’s events concluded with the distribution of medals and awards to the various age-group winners, as well as the overall winner.
“I like that it was held on Fort Bliss,” said Sgt. Christopher Tees, a military police officer with the 978th Military Police Company and Mays Landing, N.J., native. “It was great to see so many people involved in it. Bringing so many people together really builds strong camaraderie.”
Those looking to get involved with future events or just become more active can visit www.blissmwr.com.