News: Competitors swim, run on Armed Forces Day at Balad
Story by Sgt. David Scott
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The 332nd Expeditionary Support Squadron, 332nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing along with KBR, Inc. co-hosted a biathlon at the outdoor pool and stadium complex, May 15, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to celebrate Armed Forces Day.
A total of 76 service members and civilians competed in the event. The two-stage event combined a 500-meter swim and 5-km run.
Before the start of the competition, many competitors assessed their strengths and weaknesses.
"My best chance for success is in the 5-km run," said Maj. Erik Enyart, air mobility manager with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Radcliffe, Ky., native.
Enyart finished 22nd overall and 20th in the men's division with a time of 36 minutes, 3 seconds.
This was the first biathlon in which Maj. Mike Cimato, mobility planner with HHC, 13th ESC, and a Herndon, Va., native, has participated in. He felt ready even though he had the chance to swim only twice in preparation, he said.
Cimato finished his first biathlon 42nd overall.
During the first stage, competitors began the swim in opposite lanes toward the outer edge of the pool, continuing their swim in the interior lanes on successive laps until they had completed 500 meters. In order to maintain an even spacing of swimmers entering and exiting the pool, all competitors were given a one minute separation between starts.
After the mandatory 10-lap swim, competitors exited the pool and began the transition to the running phase which meant dry clothes and comfortable running shoes. The transition into running attire was closely monitored by officials who could recommend time penalties on competitors observed running or acting in an unsafe manner.
After changing clothes, the competitors left the building, reconfirmed the numbers they wore to officials at the event registration table and began the run.
The run stage was the point of separation for Dan Gremer. His swim time of 7 minutes, 51 seconds left him somewhat adrift, in fifth place at the end of the first stage, and he lost even more time in the transition period. But he executed the fastest run of all competitors for the day.
Gremer's run time of 17 minutes, 4 seconds was more than one minute faster than the next fastest runner, and his overall time of 27 minutes, 48 seconds was enough to win the entire event.
1st Lt. Tanja Duester, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, was the highest ranked female and placed 19th overall. Duester finished with an overall time of 35 minutes, 47 seconds.
Capt. Joel Feltz, a company commander with 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, and a Johnstown, Pa. native., finished 17th overall and was happy with his results, he said.
"Pretty much any running event or any swimming event, I try to involve myself in it and I try to involve my company and make it a group event," Feltz said. "I think it's good when everyone comes out and participates in physical fitness activities; especially on the weekends. Sometimes when you deploy, it is a little rough."
Tech. Sgt. Danielle Hueper, the sports, fitness and Morale, Welfare and Recreation representative from the 332nd ESS) said there are about 10-15 biathlons at Joint Base Balad each year.
"Normally one hundred to one hundred fifty persons participate in these competitions,"