By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 27, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 27, 2014) -- Fort Rucker held its annual Army Strong Triathlon June 21 on West Beach at Lake Tholocco where competitors swam, biked and ran to show their prowess as triathletes.
The course took participants through the lake, starting with a quarter-mile swim, after which they headed into a 10.6-mile bike ride, culminating with a 3.1-mile run, and people were able to compete as individuals or in teams of up to three.
Winners for the competition include: Jeanne Davis, female overall winner with a time of 1:00:31; Michelle Harrison, female master winner with a time of 1:19:01; Nina Korges, female grandmaster winner with a time of 1:21:13; David Shearon, male overall winner with a time of 55:20; Chris Neudeckes, male master winner with a time of 59:15; and TJ Devlieger, male grandmaster winner with a time of 59:50.
The overall team win went to 2nd Lt. Justine Emge, D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, and Staff Sgt. David Seymour, NCO Academy, with a total time of 51:51.
Many of the competitors took part in the competition, but for Emge, races like the Army Strong Triathlon are all about competition and camaraderie.
"I just like to set a goal for myself, like a daily goal and a long-term goal, and then reach those goals, and these races do that for me," she said. "It's also nice to see people of all different levels of fitness go out and compete in a triathlon.
"When they do that, they're become a triathlete," she continued. "It doesn't matter if you finish first, if you're last, if you have the worst race or the best race of your life -- you're a triathlete."
Trying and following through is what being a triathlete is all about, she said.
Emge took part in the competition in the swim and bike portion, and as an avid swimmer, she was able to complete the swim portion of the competition faster than any other competitor.
Swimming from an early age, Emge said she feels she was born in the water and the sport comes naturally to her, so when she gets in the zone during a competition, the rest of the world fades away.
"I grew up swimming, so I'm very comfortable in the water, so that helps. It's nice to chase people in a race, but it's also nice to come out first," she said. "When you race, you kind of get tunnel vision, so you don't really pay too much attention to things around you and you just focus."
Triathlons can also serve to be very therapeutic, said Emge, who has been competing in triathlons since she was 9 years old, and this is something that helps her reduce stress, especially with the rigors of flight school.
She encourages anyone who is interested in competing in the competitions to do so, and reminds people that the key is to follow through and practice.
"That's the hardest part -- going out and working out -- but it can be done by taking baby steps," she said. "It doesn't matter if you're a pro athlete or just starting out, the hardest part is just getting going. It's like flying a helicopter -- you can't get nervous, you just need to go out there and do what you've been trained to do."