Hundreds take part in Armed Forces Day triathlon

Fort Bliss MWR
Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 8:38pm

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.   

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