Sleeping in was not an option for those participating in the Steelhead Triathlon Saturday, 6 a.m. at Irwin Pool. As the sun rose, so did they â€” preparing bikes, lacing running shoes and fastening goggles. The triathlon brought together a wide assortment of people who had one common goal â€” to have fun while completing a physical challenge.
A triathlon is a multi-sport event consisting of running, biking and swimming explained Alfred â€œCiscoâ€ Francisco, facilities manager at Barnes Field House. The event held at Irwin Pool was considered a sprint triathlon as the distances were shorter. Racers had to swim 800 yards, bike 12 miles and run 3.1 miles.
The event was open to the public and had 113 participants; 25 of those were active duty Soldiers.
â€œFolks sign up as active military and dependents sign up. We have people coming from Tucson and a couple folks coming in from Mexico. Itâ€™s a pretty popular event,â€ said Francisco.
Competitors had the option to complete the race as an individual or as a team. A team had to consist of a swimmer, a biker and a runner.
â€œI donâ€™t think we could have done it by ourselves; if I tried to do the swimming and running I would be wiped out,â€ said Jacob Sieler, 12, who competed as a team with his brothers.
At the beginning of the race, each participant was given a packet which contained a bib number, timing chip, t-shirt, race course map and safety rules. The main rules of the course were clear â€” stay hydrated, stay focused and wear a helmet. Hydration stations were set up in the transition areas, and bikers were encouraged to bring water with them on the ride.
â€œHydrate whether you run or whether you bike. You might not need it but do it anyway. A lot of people will wait until they are thirsty, but then it is too late. Every 15 minutes you should take a swig or two just to keep water in your system,â€ advised Francisco.
The triathlon started with the 800-yard swim. Swimmers lined up behind a barricade waiting for a lifeguard to signal they could approach and begin their swim. Each lane held two participants and a lap counter who signaled competitors when they were completed by waving an orange disk into the water. Swimmers then bolted out of the water and to their bicycles, some changing into biker shorts, others choosing to remain in their swimsuits.
â€œBiking is my favorite. I just like biking. I can get out and see a lot of things,â€ said Billy Oliver, participant and former Steelhead Triathlon winner.
To help the bikers race their best, Sun and Spokes bike repair personnel stood by to change flats, pedals and rent helmets.
â€œWe are athletes as well; we like to support what we have been given and in turn give it to others,â€ said Marc LaPaglia, Sun and Spokes co-owner.
When the bikers completed the route, they jumped off their bikes, removed helmets and started the run portion. Runners knew they were finished when they crossed the finish line and were ushered into a pavilion to drink water and eat bananas.
Although time and awards were important, many participants felt satisfaction at completing the event.
â€œThe number-one goal is to have fun. If itâ€™s not fun, donâ€™t do it,â€ said Oliver.