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NEWS | July 22, 2015

Reservist second at Armed Forces Triathlon Championship

By Tech. Sgt. Shane Ellis 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Major Jamie Turner, a Reservist at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., continued her world-class triathlete success as the second female to cross the finish line at the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship in Hammond, Ind., June 7, 2015.

Turner's accomplishments in her last five races solidified her spot as one of six Airmen selected to compete on the U.S. Air Force women's triathlon team, which finished second in the team competition.

Twice a member of the U.S. Air Force team at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, Turner, a C-17 pilot with the 317th Airlift Squadron, has competed as a member of the USAF team for a total of five races.

She is no stranger to triathlete competition - and the training it takes to compete at the highest level.

The Armed Forces Triathlon Championship race consisted of a 1,500 meter swim, a 40K bike and a 10K Run. Drafting on the bike was legal in this particular triathlon, and Turner wanted to come out of the water fast to increase her chances of staying up front during the race.

That would not be the case for Turner coming out of the water.

"Coming out of the water with the lead pack makes for a much easier race," said Turner. "Even though I was able to decrease my swim time by five minutes, I was still over four minutes behind the lead girls when I came out of the water. It was very demoralizing and there were only two bikes left in transition."

Turner initially biked with two Canadian girls she came out of the water with, but she was riding high on adrenaline and knew that she could bike faster - and potentially catch the next group of girls. 

According to Turner, leaving the two girls was a risky decision. She would have to ride harder and take the chance of exhausting her legs. 

After carefully considering her options, Turner decided to ride solo as fast as she could in an all-out effort to get closer to the leaders.

To make things even harder, a thunderstorm rolled in on her last bike lap. The storm brought torrential rain, lightning and a wind shift that turned a tailwind into a headwind.

"I tried to ignore this as much as possible and focus on my goal of pedaling as fast as I could," said Turner. "I couldn't see anyone in front of or behind me, and all of the spectators and volunteers had taken shelter from the storm."

The only benefit from the storm came from the cooler temperatures Turner felt transitioning from the bike to the 10K run. The course was now flooded and extreme winds remained.

A major turning point in the race came when Turner was about one half of a mile into the run, and she saw another runner in the distance. 

"A big part of racing for me is the mental challenge," she said.  "I have a high pain threshold, and I am able to mentally push myself harder than my body ultimately trains."

Every time Turner wanted to slow down she would see another athlete in the far distance - and they became her new target.

At the five and one half mile mark, Turner saw her coach who told her she was currently in second place.

"I couldn't believe I had gone from almost last out of the water to second place," said Turner. "I had my goal in sight, and I wasn't going to slow down."

Despite the downpour, Turner said she was euphoric crossing the finish line and finding out that the U.S. Air Force women's triathlon team would be taking home second place.

"I gave it all I had and it paid off for a race that meant so much to me," she said.

Despite the challenges faced during the race, Turner wasn't finished after she crossed the finish line.

"I had a lot of residual adrenaline so I went back to run with the rest of the girls on my team," she said. "I really enjoy motivating others, and I wanted to motivate my team to give it their all until the end."

Turner ended the race in a good place. Her second place finish automatically qualified her as one of six athletes to compete on the women's team at the Military World Games in Mungyeong, South Korea, Oct. 2-11, 2015.

Every four years the International Military Sports Council hosts more than 6,000 athletes from more than 110 countries at the Military World Games.

Since Turner is over the age of 35 she also qualified in the masters division, which adds two additional athletes to the team who are 35 years old or older.

Turner said she is very proud to represent the U.S. Air Force at this championship, and she looks forward to representing the United States at the CISM games in Korea.

Not bad for an Airman who didn't pass her first physical fitness test at the U.S. Air Force Academy.