POSTED: Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 6:37pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 9:02pm
FORT BLISS — As part of its Armed Forces Day celebration, Fort Bliss held its fourth annual triathlon here Saturday morning during the festivities.
The overall winner of the event was Jonathon Flores, a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, who said he spent much of his time training for the event. He finished with a time of 1 hour, 7 minutes, 16 seconds.
The top finisher in the women’s division was Isabel Speer, a stay-at-home mother who said she participated to train as a member of Team USA for the upcoming Duathlon World Championships. She finished with a time of 1:17:11.
Spc. Kaitlyn Marabello, a supply sergeant assigned to 178th Human Resources Company, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, won first place in the women’s 20-to-24-year-old division with a time of 1:33:56. She finished the race and joined her friends and family looking tired yet exhilarated.
The competitors started with a 400-meter swim at the Aquatics Training Center, which entailed swimming the length of the pool eight times. This was followed by a 15-mile bicycle ride around the installation, and finally, a 5-kilometer run to the finish line near the Aquatics Training Center.
One Fort Bliss Soldier had a particularly unique reason for taking part in the triathlon – a reason centered on rehabilitation rather than competition.
“The short version is about 10 years ago I was hit by a car at Fort Bragg, (North Carolina), and it smashed my leg,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Karen Meeker, the 1st Armored Division chaplain. “I’ve had to do a lot of rehab, and the triathlon helped make it fun and mix it up a bit.”
Since the accident, Meeker said she has competed in at least five Ironman competitions, a sort of “super” triathlon that involves a 2.4-mile swim, a 26.2-mile run and a 112-mile bicycle ride.
“This morning was so beautiful, such a sunny El Paso day with a great view of the Franklin Mountains,” said Meeker. “I believe this was a very fitting Armed Forces Day.”
One triathlon participant said he has aspirations to one day participate in the Ironman. Sgt. Ben Creed, a squad leader also assigned to Marabello’s unit, said he hopes to compete in the extreme endurance event within the next two years. Creed finished second in the men’s 25-to-29-year-old division.