News: Overcoming the elements: Athletes labor through wind, rain to conquer 2011 Sprint Triathlon
Story by Cpl. Reece Lodder
Sporting swimming goggles, bicycle shorts and running shoes, approximately 225 service members and local community members gathered under a chilly, gray sky at Hangar 101 on Marine Corps Base Hawaii to participate in the 2011 Sprint Triathlon, May 22, 2011.
Comprised of a 500-meter swim, 11.1-mile bike race and a 5-kilometer run, the triathlon was the first of two in the 2011 Commanding Officer’s Fitness Series. The event was hosted by Headquarters Battalion and Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit division.
Broken into two groups — men, and women and three-person relay teams — they packed onto a launch ramp leading into the water behind Hangar 101. On the blast of the starting gun, the horde noisily clambered forward, leapt into the chilly early morning water and began the 500-meter swim.
“We’ve been working with MCCS to get people outside, to be active and enjoy Hawaii,” Lt. Col. Patrick Owens, commanding officer, Headquarters Battalion, said. “I wouldn’t want to get in that water myself — it looks a little crisp — but we’re getting a lot of participation.”
As the leading swimmers neared the last 100 meters of their swim, a dark gray wall of rain moved toward them from the mountains, beating down on them as the first swimmer — Davide Giardini — completed the swim portion of the triathlon.
Giardini, from Desenzano, Italy, said the first half of the swim was easy since the water was calm, but when the wind picked up and the rain began falling, the last half became much harder. He went on to win the race in fifty-four minutes and forty-six seconds.
Swiftly exiting the water after finishing the swim portion, competitors ran to the gear staging area. They grabbed their bicycles, slipped into shoes and clipped on their race numbers before barreling out of the exit chute past a line of helicopters on the air station flight deck.
“For a civilian, this is kind of like racing on a Hollywood set,” Giardini said. “The triathlon has offered us a unique opportunity to get on base. It’s definitely a privilege to be here and to be able to enjoy the scenery.”
Moving past the hangars toward the flight line, competitors peddled through the 11.1-mile bicycle course, dodging puddles and braving gusts of wind as they made their way down and around the flight line.
With a swift wind still howling around him from off the bay, Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Simpson, an aircraft maintainer with 15th Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, finished the last leg of the bicycle course and dismounted before moving into the staging area. Winded and irritated, he walked up to his wife and said, “I’ve never ridden in wind like that.”
“It was worse than going up the mountains on Piancavallo in Aviano [Italy],” Simpson told her. “The course was tougher than I thought — I wasn’t banking on having any wind.”
Upon completing the bicycle course, competitors traded their bicycling shoes for running shoes, and dashed off into the third and final event — the 5K run. They ran past the hangars onto Mokapu Road before winding up Radar Road, and returned to the hangar after returning off Mokapu.
As the bright sun shone through the cloudy skies, competitors sprinted down the run’s last stretch, past a row of brightly colored U.S. state flags, before crossing the finish line.
“This year, the base did a really good job of putting the race on,” 1st Lt. Sean Sullivan, intelligence officer, 3rd Marine Regiment, said after completing the race.
Sullivan, a member of the All-Marine Triathlon Team who hails from Boston, N.Y., placed second overall with a time of 55:15.
“We host a lot of running races on base, but there aren’t many sprint-distance triathlons on the island,” Sullivan said. “Offering a quality race gives a good face for the Marine Corps in the community.”
Despite the morning’s unpredictable weather, the triathlon offered the base and local communities a chance to socialize, compete and showcase their physical fitness in a beautiful, safe environment — and one with a significantly less busy route than other triathlons.
“This triathlon was an adventure,” said Army Capt. Nate Carlson, a physical therapist with Bravo Medical Company, Tripler Army Medical Center. “Even though it was a bit scary with the wind and rain, I had a blast.”
This work, Overcoming the elements: Athletes labor through wind, rain to conquer 2011 Sprint Triathlon, by Sgt Reece Lodder, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.