By Scott Prater
Justin Long had never competed in a duathlon prior to June 27. Likewise for Nathaniel Lee.
But, neither inexperience nor a lack of familiarity with the course hampered the two Team Schriever members as they blazed through a 14-mile course to finish first and second respectively at the 10th annual Schriever Duathlon.
“I ride my bike to work every day, but I live on base,” said Long. “That’s about it for my experience on the bike. On the other hand, I run quite a bit. I do a lot of distance running as well as speed work, so that helped here.”
More than 20 competitors started the event on a trail north of the Schriever Fitness Center. They began by running a 1-mile loop. Once back at the start line, they strapped on helmets and took off on a 12-mile mountain bike ride around the base perimeter. Upon arriving at the start-finish line again, competitors then ran a second 1-mile loop to complete the event.
Long led from the start, setting a blistering pace for the first mile. His lead only grew from there as he finished all three stages in 55 minutes, 29 seconds. Lee trailed by more than a minute after the first run. He was just ahead of Brian Withers for second place when he approached the first transition.
“I could see (Long) up in front and I was calculating splits in my head, but every time I figured a new split, he would be five to 10 seconds faster,” Lee said. “I knew I probably wasn’t going to catch him, but by then, Withers had started gaining on me, so I drew some motivation in trying to hold him off.”
Ultimately, Lee finished more than three minutes behind Long in 58:33, while Withers claimed third at 59:57.
Meanwhile, Gail Smicklas outdueled Tami Wise for top-female honors. The pair raced neck-and-neck for much of the competition.
“She pushed me a lot,” Smicklas said. “She was really fast on the bike, but I caught up a little on the run stages, so I think we just need to work out together. You know, balance each other out.”
Wise took advantage of an opportunity at one point during the bike stage, passing her rival as Smicklas answered a cell-phone call.
“I probably shouldn’t have answered the call, but right after she passed me, her chain fell off,” Smicklas said. “So I passed her back. She stopped, put her chain back on, and passed me again.”
Smicklas nudged in front for good on the final run stage, finishing in 1:12.23, roughly a minute ahead of Wise.
Following the event, many competitors lauded the 50th Force Support Squadron sustainment flight and the Schriever Fitness Center staff for creating a challenging, but fun, experience.
“We had great participation,” said Col. Brian Barthel, 50th Mission Support Group commander, who also happened to beat his goal of finishing in one hour and 10 minutes, by 13 seconds. “Seth Cannello and his crew did a wonderful job of putting this event together. We couldn’t have asked for a better day in our efforts to remain fit to fight.”