By Nathan DeenJune 26, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 26, 2013) -- Josh Horsager emerged from the Pacific Ocean June 1 four places away from last in the 2013 Armed Forces Triathlon just outside of Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.
The current fought against him and made him pay for the inexperience of swimming in oceans, and that leg of the race was already his weakest link, he said.
"I'm a good swimmer, but not a great swimmer," Horsager said. "The water temperature was 60 degrees, so it was cold. The waves were bad enough to where you couldn't see the buoys to where you were swimming."
But for Horsager, the bigger the challenge, the better, he said.
He overtook 26 athletes in the bike and running portions and finished 30th out of 60 overall, he said.
Swimming aside, success in triathlons and long-distance events has come naturally for Horsager. His first triathlon experience was in the Chattahoochee Challenge in 2011, in which he finished in second. In April, he accomplished two improbable back-to-back feats -- finishing second overall in the 2013 Best Ranger Competition alongside his partner, John Gendron, and winning the West Point Lake Triathlon, a USA Triathlon sanctioned event in West Point, Ga., two weeks later.
"I'm just super competitive," Horsager said. "It's really just me versus me in seeing how far I can go."
With only two years of experience in triathlons, Horsager said he didn't think he would get as far as making the All-Army triathlon team, but the Ranger from the 75th Ranger Regiment applied anyway and received his acceptance letter.
Horsager said he applied in 2012 and was turned down.
"They didn't think my resume was strong enough," he said. "I was actually surprised I made it this year.
"I had a very successful year (in 2012). But I don't have the same experience (as others). My biggest concern was that I didn't have enough depth in my resume."
Nicholas Sterghos of Fort Hood, Texas, represented the Army as the Armed Forces individual champion, while the Navy won the men and women's team titles.
"It was a good experience to see how the All-Army program works," Horsager said. "We've got some phenomenal athletes in the Army. Being able to train with them was helpful."
Next on the list for Horschager? He will compete in September in the Half-Iron Man World Championship in Las Vegas, which includes a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run. Between now and next year's Armed Forces Triathlon, he wants to get into the water more, but not at the cost of giving up training time for running and biking, he said.
"That's where I'm going to make up the time for my swim," he said. "I'm in the water a lot more now … but I still need to have a really strong run and bike base."
Horsager said the Army needs more depth of talented triathlon athletes to overtake Navy and Air Force at Armed Forces, and he hopes he will be able to contribute to that.
"The Army hasn't won the event in the past eight years, but this year and last year, we've had the top two (finishers)." he said.