Competitors push limits during goodwill triathlon
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Servicemembers, station residents, civilians and Japanese citizens from near and far gathered at IronWorks Gym here for the 25th Annual Japanese and American Goodwill Modified Triathlon Sept. 23, 2012.
Participants in the event could enter to compete as individuals or as a three-man team competing in three events, running, swimming and cycling.
The race started with a onekilometer swim then immediately transitioned into a 4k run. Competitors then hopped on their bikes for a 28k-ride around the station before finishing the triathlon with a another 4k run, ending in front of the IronWorks Gym.
“We had people from all over Japan as well as station personnel come out and compete today,” said Mai Tajima, Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit division recreation specialist. “If you look around you can see the excitement on every one's faces. One lady told me she trains for this all year, just to come here and compete with Americans.”
Though the triathlon is a station event, the number of Japanese and station participants varies greatly.
“We had a total of 193 Japanese and 49 U.S. for a total of 242 participants with about 200 spectators cheering for their friends and family to do their best,” said Tajima. “This is a very important event. It brings the Japanese and station residents closer together.”
The endurance of individual competitors attempting the entire triathlon was matched by the group teams.
“I feel incredibly wonderful and blessed to be given the opportunity from MCCS to compete with the Japanese and other station residents,” said Andrew K. Barr, triathlon participant and team Honey Badger cyclist. “We have a good team put together, and I don’t feel we are lacking in any particular event. Everyone here is giving it their best and that’s all we can really do or ask for. I think events such as this are a good way to build team spirit and lasting ties with the Japanese.”
Getting news about the races out early is a good way to recruit new participants for the event.
“The number of American participants this year has doubled from last year and greatly improved from the previous years,” said Tajima. “They went from only having three teams now having six teams participate, as well as several that competed individually. We try to inform everyone as soon as possible, that way we can ensure maximum participation.”
This year’s overall winner was Murayama Hideto, who finished with a time of one hour 25 minutes and 22 seconds.
“We hope to see all these competitors again next year along with as many new faces we can get,” said Tajima. “The more we get the harder the competition for the overall victory will be.”