This year’s Sprint Triathlon, sponsored by Fort Hood Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, brought out approximately 100 soldiers and civilians, ages 9 and up, for some serious exertion on a cool Saturday morning at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.
A sprint triathlon is slightly less than half of a full/Olympic triathlon.
Participants in a wide variety of swim gear lined up on the boat ramp to start the 300--meter swim at ten second intervals. Emerging from the lake, they rode 12 miles around the park and Fort Hood on bicycles. The last leg of the race was a 5K run.
Lt. Col. Jarred Lang, commander of the 206th Military Intelligence Battalion, brought his daughters Leah, 9, and Kathryn, 12, to participate in the triathlon.
“I’ve done a few triathlons,” said Lang. “I’m mainly a runner.”
Leah and Kathryn had expressed an interest in joining their dad for the triathlon.
The girls trained for the triathlon by biking on West Fort Hood with their father. Kathryn also swims with the Fort Hood Area Dolphins swim team.
“I’ve been running 5Ks for quite awhile,” Kathryn said. “I wanted to do something bigger.”
“We’re going to take it easy,” Lang said. “It’ll give them confidence, and help them finish.”
Leilani Evans, 19, lives in Harker Heights. She is studying kinesiology at Central Texas College, with an eye to being a personal trainer.
“This is my eleventh triathlon,” Evans said. Though she admitted she hadn’t trained for this race, she added, “It’s inspiring to see people who do train.”
Connor Bhavsar, 11, and his brother Austin, 8, accompanied their father, Lt. Col. Amit Bhavsar, to the triathlon.
While Connor competed in triathlons when the family was stationed in Hawaii, this time he and Austin were spectators. They rang cowbells to celebrate as their father, and other participants, completed each phase of the race.
After finishing in 1:07:23.9, Bhavsar explained his strategy. “I was just trying to catch the guy ahead of me.”
The first to cross the finish line was Justin Eggemeyer, of Georgetown. “I’ve done this triathlon seven or eight times,” he said. “Every year, I get a little better.”
Eggemeyer’s time was 1:01:00.5, while some others were still on their bicycles.
For most, it was not about competing against the others. Like Eggemeyer, improving personal performance was key.
Bhavsar, of the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, sees the triathlon as encouraging fitness for the soldiers.
Preparing for a triathlon, “the training doesn’t get boring,” Bhavsar said. “There are three different disciplines, so you challenge your body in different ways.”
Seeing this diversity incorporated into the soldiers’ regular training would be advantageous, according to Bhavsar.
“You don’t know how hard you can push your body until you do,” he said.
Still, for those like Leilani Evans, the Sprint Triathlon meant more about having fun. “It’s good to get out here with everybody.”
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