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Written by: Sgt. 1st Class Ken Mattingly of the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry – Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq
As the sun began to rise in the northern Iraqi sky, Capt. Peter Lewis, commander, Bravo Co., 1-184 Infantry, 30th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, briefed a group of soldiers here June 28. The brief was not of routes or precise military maneuvers, but it was a briefing concerning the first triathlon to be held in northern Iraq.
The Bushmaster’s Triathlon consisted of a 400-meter swim, an 11K bicycle course, and a 3K run. It was the culmination of more than 25 hours of planning and rehearsals, as well as the work of more than 40 soldiers who operated the various sections of the triathlon.
The event coordinators, Lewis and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Hernandez, Bravo Co., watched as 55 competitors from the Army and Air Force, along with civilian contractors, formed lines to start the first leg of the triathlon, the 400-meter swim.
Soldiers competed as individuals or in teams. The many who participated ended the race with a great sense of pride and accomplishment for their efforts.
“This is something cool, a good memory,” said Maj. Darrin Bender, Task Force Speicher. “It was painful most of the race—you are in the red zone the whole time—but it was a lot of fun.”
1st Lt. Samantha Holys, 16th Special Troops Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, was the first female to finish the race with a time of one hour and seven minutes. This wasn’t her first triathlon; the Flagstaff, Ariz., native participated in triathlons while she attended the University of Arizona.
“I’ve never done a triathlon with a tank rolling by—that was definitely a first,” Holys said. “The pool was fast, but what made the race challenging were the road and weather conditions.”
1st Lt. Marshall Kulp, 574th Quartermaster Co., 30th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, finished first in the men’s race with an overall time of 53 minutes and seven seconds.
Although there have been biathlons and fun runs, this was the first triathlon held at Q-West this summer.
“The military, by nature, is athletic,” said Lewis. “What better way to train than with a triathlon? The most enjoyable part is building a community. It started with 30 to 35 racers running biathlons and now we are well over 50.”