FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 14, 2021) -- Two heart-pumping, adrenaline-racing competitions ended the second week of the Army Strong BANDS (Strong Balance, Activity, Nutrition, Determination and Strength) campaign at Fort Drum.
More than a dozen community members gathered at Magrath Sports Complex for a sprint triathlon, hosted by Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR). The staff designed the event to allow participants the option to either use a spin bike or ride their own road bike on a 12-mile course outside.
This was the first sprint triathlon for 1st Sgt. Daniel Bryan, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. While some Soldiers look to improve strength or speed, he said that he has other physical fitness goals.
“I guess I’m morphing into the endurance phase of my life, so I just want to be able to go the distance,” he said. “The ultimate goal for me is to complete a full Ironman.”
So, he bought a bicycle at a local department store, watched some videos online for guidance and trained.
“When they opened the pool back up, I would swim some laps and then run – longer runs at a regular pace,” he said. “But I could only do a few bike rides because of the weather. I also practiced transitions at home, going from a bike to a run and seeing how that feels like.”
Bryan set a goal of completing the triathlon within 90 minutes, and he succeeded by crossing the finishing line at 1:20:40.
Second Lt. Joe Karslo, with 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, recorded a time of 58:07 and placed first among those competing on spin bikes.
“It was great,” he said. “I really needed to get back into this kind of training, especially now that we have nice weather. I didn’t finish exactly where I wanted to be, but it was a competitive race and very well-organized. So, I’m definitely happy with it.”
Karslo participated in FMWR’s last sprint triathlon, which was an indoor event.
“It’s a great workout no matter what,” he said. “Then, you have Soldiers see you compete in different activities and it can motivate them to get in the pool and swim laps or get on a bike. I think it’s setting a good example, and it’s just a fun event that helps improve your physical fitness.”
Bill Van Orman has competed in many triathlons and road races over the years, but took a long pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I swam last week for the first time in over a year,” he said. “But this is not a new sport to me. So seeing that there was an opportunity to do one again, this was something I had to do. It’s fun, and I’m excited to do this.”
Van Orman also registered for the “Don’t Touch the Lava” event May 14 at Atkins Functional Fitness Facility, which challenges participants to navigate a course using jump boxes, ropes, the Alpha Warrior rig and other obstacles without touching the ground.
This event also falls under the umbrella of Strong B.A.N.D.S. events, an annual campaign which promotes a culture of fitness and well-being in all aspects of Soldiers’ lives.
After finishing the indoor obstacle course, Pfc. Joshua Valdez, with 59th Chemical Company, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, said it felt like a full-body workout.
“I’m winded,” he said. “It worked out everything. I didn’t think it would be so tiring. The monkey bars hurt my time, but I did OK.”
Valdez said that he often works out with the free weights at Atkins, but he never used the rope wall or the Alpha Warrior Rig before.
“It seemed like it would be fun, and something that would test my endurance and grip,” he said.
Pfc. Matias Flowers, with C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said that the course was a good test of balance, agility and most of all, upper-body strength.
“You have to have good upper-body strength, and just push yourself,” he said. “You also need to have speed.”
Flowers was a last-minute entry, having recently heard about the event. After watching the first person navigate the course, he figured out how he would approach it. Then he flew the course with the fastest time of 1 minute and 33 seconds.
“I’m just competitive, and I wanted to try something new,” he said. “I liked this. If you think about it, you’ll mess up.”
Van Orman placed second with a time of 2 minutes and 7 seconds. After competing in this and the sprint triathlon, Van Orman noted that it was not all play for him. He used both events as opportunities to set up an ASAP information booth, and promote the upcoming “101 Days of Summer” campaign.
“This is an annual drug and alcohol campaign on the 101 days where risk is the highest for incidents,” he said. “People get out more, they go to beach and to barbecues, and they drink.”
Van Orman said that he isn’t telling Soldiers not to drink, but to do so responsibly.
“You can drink, but you don’t need to be high risk, like binge drinking or driving while intoxicated,” he said. “My angle is more about making healthy choices. You can have fun, but be smart about it. You can’t stay ready as a Soldier if you’re out of shape, or struggling in that department.”
As much as Van Orman enjoys competition, he said that participating in such FMWR events allows him to talk with Soldiers in an informal setting.
“It gives me an opportunity to meet a lot of the Soldiers who see me in classes, but they see I’m not just that boring instructor who teaches ASAP and suicide prevention,” he said. “I’m also out doing the same stuff that they like to do.”
Sprint Triathlon Results
The top finishing times for the sprint triathlon were:
Spin Bike: Second Lt. Joe Karslo, 58:07
Road Bike: Capt. Eric Geber, 1:11:06 (top male); Capt. Elizabeth Agnew, 1:34:28 (top female)