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Duathlon challenges experienced athletes

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Participants race down the path during the first 1-mile portion of the 14th annual duathlon at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 8, 2018. The fitness center hosts events like this to boost morale and promote physical fitness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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Matthew Cork with the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron powers around a curve during the 12-mile bicycling portion of the 14th annual duathlon at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 8, 2018. Cork won the men's division with a final time of 55:52. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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Participants race on their bicycles during the 12-mile portion of the 14th annual duathlon at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 8, 2018. The event required athletes to complete a 1-mile run, followed by a 12-mile bike ride and finish with another 1-mile run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Twenty-nine Airmen participated in the 14th annual duathlon at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 8.

The event consisted of a one-mile run, followed by a 12-mile bicycle ride and finished with another one-mile run.

Matthew Cork with the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron finished first with a time of 55:52, and Annette Melcher with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron finished first among the females with a time of 1:14:04.

Seth Cannello, fitness center director with the 50th Force Support Squadron, said due to manning, implementing the event was challenging, but turned out to be a success.

“Despite a slow start for registrations, we actually had a fair number of people compete and some extremely fit people slugging it out for the fastest time,” he said. “Cork crushed the course again this year but I was impressed with all the top three male and female competitors. Perhaps the most impressive performance came from the back of the pack. It was fun to see them come from behind and place at the finish.”

Although some of the participants’ bikes malfunctioned during the race, Cannello praised the athletes for pushing through.

“I always feel bad when someone can't finish because of a mechanical issue, but everyone at the event had a great attitude and I think they'll be back next year,” he added.

Melcher, a first time Schriever AFB duathlon participant, said it was her first time ever biking 12 miles.

“I didn’t have the best mountain bike, so I felt like it was going to break at every turn,” she said. “I had to get off my bike during the sandy portions of the route.”

However, she said the two one-mile runs fared better.  

“That was my fastest mile since I’ve gotten back into serious training,” she added.

Melcher enjoyed the workout, despite the technical challenges and the heat.

“I was very wobbly getting off the bike, so after I got that out of my legs, finishing the last mile felt really good,” she said.

Melcher is currently training for the World Class Athlete Program, a qualifier for the United States Olympic running team, so events like these help her stay in shape and connect with her other Airmen.

“It was a really great workout, the course was laid out really well and it was definitely a challenge,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was, especially with the sand. It’s a lot of camaraderie, especially after the race, hanging out. It’s a good bonding experience.”

Cannello praised all participants for their hard work and determination to finish the race.

“I love seeing people push themselves physically, and in my opinion, finishing a tough race, regardless of what place you take, is admirable,” he said. “I think it caught a few people by surprise, but they pushed through and finished and that's all that matters.”

Chase Contreras with the 50th Contracting Squadron, also a first time participant, finished third among the males with a time of 59:37.

“My goal was to finish in under an hour, so I was happy with my time,” he said.

Contreras competed in the event because of his love of endurance events, but was also motivated by his fellow Airman.

I want to give a shout out to Michael Kilbourne, my personal mentor and source of inspiration,” he said. “Kilbourne said ‘Go do it and try and crush it,’ so I did it for him.”

Contreras thoroughly enjoyed the event, and appreciated Cannello’s hard work in hosting the event.

He also agreed with Melcher in that the bike portion was physically strenuous.  

“Because of the trail conditions, I was constantly getting shook on the bike,” Contreras said.

The most rewarding part of the event was cheering on his wife, and seeing people come out from all different squadrons on base to participate and compete with one another.

“It’s a Team Schriever morale building event,” he said. “People have the opportunity to push themselves physically and mentally. It’s a great challenge.”

Although Contreras has only been at Schriever for 10 months, he said he will keep an eye out for future physical activities and events like this.

“I encourage more people to come out and do it next time if they can,” he said.

For more information about upcoming fitness center events, contact the fitness center at 567-6628.