Joint Base Charleston, S.C. –
Two members of Joint Base Charleston competed for the Air Force Triathlon team during the Armed Forces Triathlon Championships May 31, at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu Calif.
Capt. Brett King, 17th Airlift Squadron pilot and Capt. Jamie Turner, 315th Airlift wing C-17 pilot, had the honor of representing the Air Force and Joint Base Charleston at the event.
"The water temperature took your breath away; the start was vicious and aggressive," said King. "It was a washing machine effect of fists and kicking to get into position."
And that was just the beginning of the grueling Armed Forces Triathlon competition which pits the top triathletes in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps against one another in a 1,500-meter (one-mile) ocean swim, 40-kilometer (24.8-mile) draft-legal bike ride and 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run.
The first discipline, the swim, was the most challenging aspect of the race due to strong currents and cold water temperatures, said Turner, who played a vital role in the helping the Air Force Women's team defend its title as Armed Forces Triathlon champion.
"I helped a few of my AF teammates mentally push themselves harder than they thought possible during the run and the bike," said Turner. "A huge part of racing is the mental aspect which can easily be affected with pain and racing at your threshold."
For Turner, the finish line was a surreal experience knowing she gave it her all as her time made the difference between the women's first and second place finish.
The Air Force Men's team came in second behind the Navy.
This was King's second year competing at the Armed Forces Triathlon and this year, he was mentally ready for the viciousness of the swim.
"Your placement in the swim is incredibly important because it determines the group you will be riding and running with in the Draft-Legal triathlon format," said King.
King exited the water portion of the competition with a Navy competitor, only 30 seconds behind the lead pack.
They chased each other throughout the bike and transition to the run.
"The bike to run transition was the best part of my race. I came into that transition in 18th place and by the time I finished the race I had moved up to 11th overall," said King.
Leaving everything on the road, King passed three other service members in the last mile of the race. The Air Force team lost to Navy by five points, which translates to only 10 seconds in the scoring system.
Although the competition was fierce, at the end of the day all the service members realize they are all on the same team.
"After the race is over there is this huge sense of camaraderie," said King. "The best part about this competition is that you're surrounded by the same kind of people. Everyone racing here had to make the same kinds of sacrifices to train while following a calling to serve their country."
For Turner, one of her biggest struggles was finding time to train due to the lack of a predictive work schedule and the added difficulty of two different jobs in two different states.
"I spend 80 percent of my time on the road and am always on the hunt for a pool or spin bike when I am traveling," said Turner.
King faces similar challenges with his training and even brings his triathlon bicycle on trips so he can train in his down time.
"The most rewarding part of the race is when you get to that point of devastating pain and you have to make the decision, either you're a fighter, or you're not," said King.
"Triathlon has become a big part of the balanced life I strive to lead," said Turner. "I enjoy motivating people and helping them realize they have the ability to accomplish almost anything."
For both competitors, it isn't the end of the race but the journey that keeps them motivated.
"It doesn't culminate in the finish line, it's the chase to constantly be better that keeps you driven," said King.
Turner and King are already training for their next races. Turner is looking forward to continuing to represent the Air Force at the Armed Forces Championships and King has set his sights on the Half-Ironman World Championship competition scheduled for Sept. 7, 2014.