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AF triathlon team wins at 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Air Force men’s  triathlon team pose for a photo after placing first at the 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on Saturday, June 5, 2010. The Air Force team took first place in every category, including the fastest male, fastest female and overall fastest team for both male and female categories. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. John C. Roberts)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Air Force men’s triathlon team pose for a photo after placing first at the 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on Saturday, June 5, 2010. The Air Force team took first place in every category, including the fastest male, fastest female and overall fastest team for both male and female categories. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. John C. Roberts)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Maj. Jonathan Mason, the 30th Weather Squadron assistant director of operations, and 1st Lt. Scott Tonder, a 392nd Training Squadron space operations instructor, competed in the 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on Saturday, June 5, 2010. The Air Force team took first place in every category, including the fastest male, fastest female and overall fastest team for both male and female categories. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. John C. Roberts)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Maj. Jonathan Mason, the 30th Weather Squadron assistant director of operations, and 1st Lt. Scott Tonder, a 392nd Training Squadron space operations instructor, competed in the 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on Saturday, June 5, 2010. The Air Force team took first place in every category, including the fastest male, fastest female and overall fastest team for both male and female categories. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. John C. Roberts)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The Air Force triathlon team recently excelled in all athletic categories at the 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on June 5.

The Air Force team took first place in every category, including the fastest male (Capt. James Bales at 1 hour, 46 minutes, 32 seconds), fastest female (1st Lt. Kathy Rakel at 2:00:04) and overall fastest team for both male and female categories.

The competition was an Olympic-distance triathlon consisting of a 1.5 kilometer swim, 40 kilometer bike and a 10 kilometer run. The triathlon was open to service-selected teams representing the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.

The Air Force female's team has come in at first place at this venue for the past three consecutive years. This was the first time the Air Force men's team has won this competition since 2004.

"This was a more experienced team with a higher caliber of athletes than prior years," said Maj. Jonathan Mason, a 30th Weather Squadron assistant director of operations.

Two Vandenberg Airmen, Maj. Jonathan Mason, the 30th Weather Squadron assistant director of operations, and 1st Lt. Scott Tonder, a 392nd Training Squadron space operations instructor, contributed to the success of the Air Force Triathlon Team. The two officers trained together in preparation for the triathlon.

"It really helped training with Lieutenant Tonder, who ended up placing second for the team and 11th overall," said Major Mason. "His training and racing has really improved over the last 12 months, and it is contagious when you train with somebody that is better than you."

For Vandenberg's elite tri-athletes, being selected to participate on the Air Force team in the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship has become an annual occurrence. Lieutenant Tonder competed in the triathlon in 2007 - 2009, and Major Mason competed alongside in 2008 and 2009.

"One of the highlights of my life and Air Force career was last Saturday at Armed Forces Triathlon Championship," said Major Mason. "It was the first time the men's and women's team swept the competition along with both individual champions coming from one service. I was honored to be part of it and for it to happen to the nicest and most professional group of people I know."

From a spectator's perspective, the Air Force team's pregame strategy of sticking together during the bicycling event is what contributed to the success of the team.

"From what I saw, the reason why the Air Force men's team did so well was because they worked better as a team on the bicycle than the other services did," said Maj. John Roberts, a 30th Space Wing director of operations. "The place you come in is the amount of points your team accrues. It's like golf, the lower the points the better you place. The Air Force had the tightest, most consistent groups for both the male and female teams therefore the best scores."

The Air Force Triathlon Team (Team members by rank, base, location and race time):

Maj. Spencer C. Cocanour, Headquarters Pacific Command, Hawaii (Coach)
Maj. Brian A. Denaro, Hicham AFB, Hawaii (01:54:48)
Maj. Jonathan D. Mason, Vandenberg AFB, Calif. (01:56:37)
Maj. William S. Poteet, Air Force Academy, Colo. (01:54:41)
Maj. Melissa M. Tallent, Langley AFB, Va. (02:14:52)
Capt. James R. T. Bales, Lackland AFB, Texas (01:46:32)
Capt. Kenneth K. Corrigliano, Cannon AFB, N.M. (01:52:51)
Capt. Brian E. Hans, Chantilly, Va. (01:56:09)
Capt. Colleen M. O'Conner, Andrews AFB, Md. (02:14:17)
1st Lt. Stephanie N. Hirst, Cape Canaveral, Fla. (02:14:47)
1st Lt. Mitchell R. Kieffer, Eglin AFB, Fla. (01:59:44)
1st Lt. Erin K. O'Conner, Macdill AFB, Fla. (02:22:42)
1st Lt. Kathy M. Rakel, Luke AFB, Ariz. (02:00:04)
1st Lt. Scott A. Tonder, Vandenberg AFB, Calif. (01:52:39)
2nd Lt. Brock F. Logan, Air Force Academy, Colo. (01:54:46)
Senior Master Sgt. Michael T. McCoy, Scott AFB, Ill. (01:54:19)
Tech. Sgt. Michael W. Berquist, Fairchild AFB, Wash. (01:56:15)
Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Appelwick, Sembach Air Base, Germany (Injured)
Senior Airman Jolene Wilkinson, Hill AFB, Utah (02:09:38)