CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - Three novice triathletes made a big splash in the sport prevailing in severe monsoon conditions to claim the top prizes in the 8th Army Triathlon Championship held July 17 at Hanson Field House.

Before this event, two of the three winners - Jodi Wernikoff, women's division, Richard Gash, men's senior division (33 years and higher) and Robert Anderson, men's junior division (32 years and under) - had participated in a combined total of two triathlons. It was Anderson's first.

Not only did the 28 triathletes compete in a 400-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike race and 5-kilometer run, they persevered in conditions that according to the 607th Weather Squadron dumped more than 6 inches of rain on Casey Garrison in two days, including torrential rains during the bike and run segments that made the courses slick.

Despite the weather, two of the winners shattered the winning times from the 2009 triathlon. Wernikoff, a physician's assistant for the 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Camp Carroll, finished in 1:14.24 destroying the women's mark by more than 34 minutes. Anderson from the 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion at Humphreys Garrison, posted a 1:05.20 eclipsing the 1:09.25 posted from 2009.

The runners up were: women's division - Sue Jorgensen, civilian, Yongsan Garrison, 1:14.46 and Sarah Stahl, HSC, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, Humphreys Garrison, 1:16.38; men's senior division - Nathan Stahl, HSC, 602nd ASB, Humphreys Garrison, 1:04.49 and Mark Jorgensen, U.S. Embassy, Yongsan Garrison, 1:04.57; and men's junior division - Ryan McPheeters, 563rd Medical Logistics Company, Camp Carroll, 1:06.10 and Christopher Tung, 4th Support Detachment (Rear Operations Center), Camp Henry, 1:08.47.

Wernikoff, 27, took first place in a shorter reverse triathlon - organized at Camp Carroll earlier this month. The Chicago native said her biggest concern was the slick course.

"I was concerned about the turns, going through puddles and some of the gravel coming on the side of the road," she said. "With the thin road tires, sometimes it gets a little challenging to turn."

The Warrior Country Sports team worked to minimize the potential hazards. Orange cones were placed around puddles and in slick areas, and numerous guards were posted at intersections to provide direction and control the traffic.

Anderson, who participated in a team triathlon in high school, has won four consecutive 5-kilometer run events on Humphreys Garrison. He also rides a bicycle to work and was eager to try a triathlon.

"My goal was to keep up with the guy in front of me," he said.

He passed the leader in the run near the midway point of the course that took runners from Hanson Field House to the 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment dining facility before returning to the starting point.

"I'm a great downhill runner so I knew downhill was coming on the way back so I tried to conserve my energy until I was coming back and then I dug deep," he said.

Anderson said he was in awe of his competitors, who he credited for the helpful tips they gave him before the event.

"These guys are impressive athletes," he said. "They're all in great shape so it was intimidating."
Gash, who is assigned to the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team's Brigade Special Troops Battalion, participated in last year's championship. His goal was to improve on his third place time of 1:10.38, which he did with a 1:04.30.

"I just wanted to do better than last year and do better in the swim, especially," said the 36-year-old native of Bay Village, Ohio. "I did a lot better. I've been swimming twice a week in the Camp Hovey pool all winter and it really helped."

"I'm very happy with how I did. I didn't expect to win."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16