Warrior Country teams shatter records
October 1, 2010
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - Husband and wife triathletes led their teams to two gold medals and in the process smashed the men's and women's division records during the 8th Army Team Triathlon Championship Sept. 11 at Hanson Field House here.
The husband- and wife-led teams of Richard and Staci Gash set new Warrior Country records in their divisions. Richard's men's team broke its own record of 1 hour, 31 minutes and 38 seconds from the local team triathlon event July 31 by nearly two minutes. The team triathlon includes a 500 meter swim followed by a 30 km bike ride and a 10 km run.
Seeking to one-up the men, Staci's team of family members blitzed the course in 1:54:00 -smashing the women's record-time of 1:56:06 that has stood since 2001. Sports records for 8th Army events are not kept.
"Our goal was just to be able to do it again and we wanted to improve on our last time," Richard Gash said about his men's team of Zach Brainard and Joshua Hudson.
Richard, the reigning Warrior Country 10-km mountain bike men's senior division champion, was the second cyclist on the course. He passed the leader near the Camp Hovey Physical Fitness Center at about the 5-km mark for the lead.
By the time he crossed the finish line - Hudson, the reigning 8th Army Ten-Miler champion - had about a nine minute head start on the competition.
"They gave me a good lead so I didn't want to lose it and that's when I realized we should try to strive to break our record," the 24-year-old St. Louis native said.
Brainard, who finished the swim in about 9 minutes and 30 seconds, said he cut his previous time by as much as a minute and a half.
"That definitely helped," Richard said. "Most of the time difference was his on the swim."
Staci is an accomplished athlete in her own right. She finished second in the 30-39-year-old division of the 2010 Incheon Asian Continental Cup Triathlon last month and has won numerous Warrior Country events. Her familiarity with the sport enabled her to assemble a team - Jewel Alvis to ride the bicycle and Dawn Zitko to run - to win.
"I knew what girls we needed to win so I put together the team and picked the fastest woman I know who can run and the fastest woman I know on the bike and we went out to crash the course record," she said.
"We also set out to beat as many men's teams as we could," she added as teammates Alvis and Zitko laughed.
The women finished ahead of five men's division teams and credited their strong cheering section - 12 children among the three of them - for their moral support.
The team of Ryan Murphy (swim), Ryan McPheeters (bike) and Kristen Epstein (run), represented the 168th Multifunctional Medical Brigade at Camp Walker, claimed first place in the mixed (co-ed) division in 1:41:43 - more than five minutes off the record time set in 2001.
"We have a really solid team and we knew that coming in here," Murphy said. "We didn't have any particular expectations, but we knew we had a good chance going for the gold."
McPheeters, who finished second in men's junior division of the 8th Army Triathlon Championship, said the weather conditions were considerably better than they were for that event when more than six inches of rain drenched Dongducheon in two days.
Epstein, who was a late addition to the team, said it was "good racing weather" and that team chemistry contributed to their success.
"We have a really nice team rapport. They were awesome out there just cheering me on and keeping me on pace, and we actually went a lot faster than we had set out to do," she said.