By Pfc. Mardicio Barrot, Red Cloud Garrison Public AffairsJuly 14, 2010
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - Anja Wright from the 8th Army J6 knew she was a marked woman. She was the reigning women's division champion and like other top athletes motivated by competition, she delivered the performance of a champion to hold off her rival and capture her second straight title in the Warrior Country Triathlon Championship at Hanson Field House here June 26.
For the second consecutive year, Wright competed against her rival - Karen Graves, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team - who also finished second to her in the swim/bike/ run event last year. Wright finished in 1:17.27 - three minutes ahead of her rival.
The real battle was for third place, where Jolie Young, 629th Medical Company Area Support, finished in 1:25:54, just five seconds ahead of Nikki Zayas from Osan Air Base.
The multi-event endurance race, sponsored by the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, put 36 participants through a rigorous 400-meter swim, 20-kilometer bicycle race and 5-kilometer run, which by triathlons is considered a standard novice/fitness distance course in Europe.
Last year, Wright and Graves were the lone competitors in the women's category. This year they were joined by three other women who they said helped to raise the overall level of competition. They hope even more women compete in the future.
"I think that some women are intimidated because there are a lot of guys who come to these events, but as more families come here, hopefully some of the spouses can become more active in these events," Graves said.
"We beat most of the guys anyway," she added with a smile. "I think our bikes were faster than most of our competitors."
Ledger West, Tango Security Force, won gold in the men's junior (32 years and under) category with a blistering time of 1:08:28 - the fastest time of the day. Joshua Johnson, A Co., 302nd Brigade Support Battalion, took second place in 1:09:59 and Russell Zayas, HHC, 4/2nd ATK, finished third in 1:11:21.
Anthony Nelson, HHC, 1st HBCT, delivered a dominating performance finishing first in the men's senior (33 and up) division with a combined time of 1:19:19. Jon Trolla, E Co., 1-72nd Field Artillery, finished second in 1:21:02 - nearly two minutes off the pace - and Min-ho Cho, Eighth U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officers Academy, took home the bronze in 1:22:24.
Equally important as the time the triathletes spend in each of the swimming, cycling and running events is the time they spend in the transition areas - between the swimming and cycling and the cycling and running segments. These transition areas are traditionally used to store bicycles, performance apparel and other gear for the next stage of the race, and the time spent in them is included in the overall time of the race.
While Warrior Country has been hosting a triathlon for 20 years, Wright is optimistic about its future with more command-sponsored families coming to Red Cloud Garrison installations.
"It's my third time doing the competition now," she said. "Every time it gets a little better, it's truly a fun event."
The Eighth U.S. Army Triathlon Championship matching the top triathletes from across the peninsula will be held Saturday at Casey Garrison's Hanson Field House.