KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa Japan - There are a few, perhaps more than a few, words and phrases service members use to describe those that stand apart from the rest of the formation. Such individuals are called "high-speed" or "hard-core." They are the fastest, the strongest, and the bravest among us. They are the first to accept a challenge and the last to accept defeat. They are the winners; they are featured on posters inside a recruiter's office. In short, they are those that go above and beyond.

In Okinawa, one need not look far to find a few of these standouts. Within 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Battalion, there are some warriors that spend their free-time going beyond--way, way beyond. They swim, bike, and run. Not over the course of a month, but a matter of hours sometimes doing so at distances that stagger even the heartiest servicemember's imagination.

During a recent iron-man triathlon in Taiwan, Snake Eyes soldiers Capt. Jared Owen, Capt. Rachel Kinnas and husband Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Clissold swam 1.9 kilometers (1.2 miles), then biked 90.1 kilometers (56 miles), then ran 21.1 kilometers (13.1 miles) all through driving rain. Kinnas described the triathlon as "Slushy." She said "it rained the entire time and my shoes were soaking wet."

There is no shortage of inspiration for triathletes. Those that participate in such grueling physical tests often draw motivation from those most dear to them. Owen dedicated his effort in the Taiwan iron-man triathlon to his family. "I started getting sick just as we were arriving to Taiwan. I pushed through (the sickness) and the reward was seeing my family at the finish line."

Like many other aspects of military life, training for and competing in a triathlon is a family affair. Owen recalled his Taiwan experience. "All the while [Owen's family was] standing at the intervals and at the finish line to cheer me on even when my body was at the max capacity. They shout, "GO TEAM OWEN" with cow bells, hand clappers, and cameras in tote." Kinnas and Clissold train and compete together. In fact, Kinnas described completing the Taiwan event together as a "truly wonderful life experience."

Preparing for a triathlon takes time and dedication. Snake Eyes battalion alumnus Capt. Christopher Renoll, has competed in as many as 10 triathlons. He estimates it takes six solid months of training to adequately prepare. For those interested in competing in a triathlon for the first time, Owen recommends completing a "mock-trial of the course one week before the event to give a realistic expectation that they will be able to finish the course."

Clissold recommends beginners start with a sprint triathlon.
A sprint triathlon challenges participants with shorter distances, 1000 meter swim, 30 kilometer bike and 5 kilometer run. Torii Station hosts two sprint triathlons annually, one in the spring and another in the fall. Information for the triathlons can be found on the Torii Morale Welfare and Recreation site (http://toriimwr.com/toriitriathlon.html). Dates for the spring event are yet to be announced. Perhaps Kinnas has the best advice for those interested in completing a triathlon for the first time. "Just do it."