Triathlon club welcomes new members

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Steve Bauer
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Sometimes just an idea can trickle enough to cause a ripple effect amongst the like-hearted. Two years ago, Maj. Jonathan Mason, 30th Weather Squadron assistant director of operations, had such an idea.

The Major arrived at Vandenberg before the base had kicked off its last organized triathlon in 2007. The Major was no novice in the triathlon community. He signed up and competed in the base triathlon just as he did at his last two duty assignments before Vandenberg. After seeing the large numbers of athletes competing at the race, he thought surely Vandenberg would have a triathlon club that he could join. Unfortunately, he was mistaken.

"There wasn't a contact list or any organized groups of people I could get imbedded with," said Major Mason. "I began to mingle with some people at the base triathlon and that's when a group of us started talking about putting a club together."

The Major's purpose for starting the club was to advertise group runs, group bicycling and swimming meeting times so that its members would have partners to train with.

Even though the club is in the beginning stages of its establishment, there are already 80 members on the contact list. This is Vandenberg's first attempt at an organized triathlon club.

Although the club is working hard to plan and organize events, there are still some barriers the club will have to overcome.

"Because we have people who live in Santa Maria and Lompoc, it sometimes is hard to get people and groups of similar ability levels to agree on a meeting time and place," said Capt. Noah Rich, 30th WS wing weather officer. "A few groups from the club gather Saturday and Sunday mornings to train together. You can get to a certain level of physical fitness working out on your own, but you'll be able to get to a much higher lever with the help of a partner."

Eventually, the club would like to have enough members interested in forming a master swim class for those who want to improve their swimming.

Triathlons, however, are designed for everybody to succeed regardless of age, gender or skill level.

"Another beauty of the triathlon, it is similar to a marathon or any type of running event where the athlete competes against their own age group," Major Mason said. "You don't have to break the tape to place in the lead because the scoring of a triathlon is determined on a person's age group and gender."

Triathlons improve physical health as well as mental health by boosting a competitor's self-esteem, said Captain Rich.

"It's really exciting when you cross the finish line because you know that you have conditioned your body to withstand such a demanding event," Captain Rich said. "You don't have to be in the best shape of your life, but training for a triathlon is a great way to help you toward that goal."

Besides improving physical fitness, the club provides a way for servicemembers to build friendships with others from Vandenberg and the surrounding community.

"We had a local YMCA race in Santa Maria last year, and it was neat to see people congratulating each other at the end of the race because they had known each other through Vandenberg's Triathlon club," said Major Mason.

The triathlon club was just an idea two years ago, but now its stirring up more waves as more people are encouraged to join.

For those interested in joining Vandenberg's Triathlon Club or becoming a coach, contact Major Mason at 606-2552.