Reservists part of gold medal teams at Armed Forces Triathlon

  • Published
  • By Maj. Christina R. Hoggatt
  • Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
Four Air Force reservists helped their U.S. Air Force Triathlon teams win the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship for the second consecutive year.

Twenty-four Air Force triathletes, including two men and two women from the Air Force Reserve, represented the Air Force at the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship April 9 at Point Mugu, Calif. They raced the standard Olympic triathlon course of a 1,500-meter swim, 24.8-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.

Lt. Col. Joel Kinnunen, the chief of rescue and special operations for Air Force Reserve Command's air, space and information operations directorate here, was one of 12 military triathletes selected to compete on the men's Air Force team and finished the race in 2:12:12.

"I was originally selected as the first men's alternate, and one individual was unable to attend, so they bumped me up about 10 days before the race," Colonel Kinnunen said. "With 10-days notice, I was not quite as ready as I would have liked to have been, and I was not prepared at all for the cold conditions."

Those conditions were a water temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit and an air temperature of 50 degrees with headwinds for the run and bike. Nonetheless, the colonel finished before other service's team members, earning the Air Force team points, which helped earn them first place.

"It was an awesome event with a well-designed course," Colonel Kinnunen said. "The Air Force team members were all super nice and very welcoming as I was the new guy and, not to mention, the oldest of all service members racing. We had a lot of fun racing the Army, Navy and Marine Corps teams."

Colonel Kinnunen spends about 20 hours a week training. He plans to increase his training regime as his next goal is to qualify for the Air Force Ironman team -- a race that consists of 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a full marathon, 26.2-mile run.

The other Air Force reservists scoring times were Tech. Sgt. Michael Berquist, Fairchild AFB, Wash., 1:59:14. Competing on the women's team were Maj. Melissa Tallent, Langley AFB, Va., 2:24:55; and Staff Sgt. Jolene Wilkinson, Hill AFB, Utah, 2:12:30.