Early preparation key for Fort Rucker Sgt. Audie Murphy triathlon
Competitors kick off the swimming portion of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Triathlon last year at Fort Rucker's Lake Tholocco. Nearly 200 individuals completed the quarter-mile swim, 10.6-mile bicycle ride and 3.1-mile run.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Sprained ankles, heat exhaustion, strained muscles and dehydration - these are all symptoms athletes may suffer June 19 if they don't prepare now for the Sgt. Audie Murphy Triathlon.

The event begins at 7 a.m. at Lake Tholocco's West Beach. Competitors complete a one-quarter mile swim, a 10.6-mile bike ride and a 5-kilometer run during the event, said Caroline Driscoll, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation fitness program coordinator.

Jo Walker, a DFMWR physical trainer and last year's female winner, said the event requires a good fitness base.

Even if people without experience begin training now, they can expect to finish the competition but probably not compete for the title, Driscoll said.

To prepare, the trainers recommend practicing each sport in some fashion during the week. For example, participants can swim on Tuesdays, run and bike on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and walk on Thursdays. For a complete list of training recommendations, see the front page of the sports section in the April 1 "Army Flier".

Many people will prepare for the swim portion by swimming up to the 400-meter mark in pools, Walker said, but she recommends people build enough endurance to swim 800 meters.

Since swimming in a pool and in Lake Tholocco are two different things, people should include a partner in their swim training. If the partner swims in front of them, waves are created, simulating the natural setting of Lake Tholocco, Walker said.

For the bike portion, people can bike outside or take spinning classes at Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Facility, Driscoll said. People can adjust resistance levels on spinning machines, which provides an adequate simulation of the hilly 10.6-mile bike race, she added.

The bike portion is also where Walker advocates fluid consumption.

Before the race, Walker recommends riding the trail, which leaves the West Beach parking lot and heads down Johnston Road to Christian Road. Participants turn right on Christian Road, reaching the Faulkner Gate before turning around.

The run course leaves the West Beach parking lot and heads toward the Engineer Beach Recreational Vehicle Park. The course turns into gravel and dirt at one point, causing some issues.

"You'll want to watch your step because you can turn your ankle," Walker said. "I recommend (getting) out to it and (getting) a feel for it."

In addition to practicing the events, Walker recommends two days of strength training each week, cautioning athletes not to push themselves too far by lifting items too heavy or too many times.

To aid in training, she also suggests participants eat proper diets that replenishes nutrients since the practice can become strenuous at times.

If training becomes a burden, Driscoll offers words of encouragement.

"Don't think of it as a competition. Think of it as challenging yourself to complete it. Think of it as a personal journey," she said.

Registration dates for the triathlon have not been set. For more information, call 255-0308.

Page last updated Thu April 1st, 2010 at 11:25