SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
In July 2015, the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron held a 5K on the base trails in support of Zach Owen’s fight against melanoma to express their confidence in his ability to beat the disease.
Less than a year later, Owen was back out on those trails proving he not only beat the disease, but that he was back and better than ever as he won the 12th annual Schriever Air Force Base Duathlon in dominating fashion here June 17.
Owen finished the event in 1:00:44, more than three minutes in front of Sean Sherlock (1:04:11), 50th Operations Support Squadron, and Nathan Briggs (1:04:27), 50 OSS, despite strong, steady winds in excess of 15 mph.
“The wind was a factor, especially coming south to north along the fence,” Owen said. “It kept us a little cooler, so it did have its benefits.”
Despite the windy conditions, Owen said he was happy to be out on the course.
“This was a lot better than sitting at my desk,” he joked.
All 22 participants completed a 1-mile run, followed by a 12-mile bike ride before finishing with another 1-mile run.
Owen, an avid bicyclist, was able to build a substantial lead on the field during the biking portion of the race, even though he was the fourth competitor to start down the bike trail.
“I’m not the fastest runner in the world, but the bike works out OK,” he said. “I was a little distracted by the nice day and forgot I was racing for a minute. It was a lot of fun.”
Krystal Conkling, 50th Space Wing, finished in 1:28:08 to top the female field. Ana Shockey (1:32:52), 50th Force Support Squadron, and Jolene Kalinay (1:34:54), U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, rounded out the top three.
Conkling had a little different perspective regarding the wind.
“I wanted to quit,” she laughed. “The wind was the worst. If there was no wind, it would’ve been beautiful. I’m glad I didn’t quit though.”
Just like Owen, Conkling had to overcome a deficit following the initial run to finish ahead of Shockey. However, Shockey dropped the chain on her bike mid-race, which cost her valuable time.
“It would’ve been super close if she didn’t have a bike issue,” Conkling said.
Though both women are competitive, they cheered each other on during the event and were the first to congratulate each other post-race.
“We’re competitive,” Conkling said. “But we want each other to finish.”
The final mile-long run that immediately followed the bike ride proved to be challenging for participants. It followed the same route as the one at the start of the event, the difference in difficulty between the two emphasized the duathlon’s physical demands.
“That was the toughest part mentally,” Sherlock said. “The transition from the bike ride to the last mile run, getting those muscles to switch mechanically was really tough.”
Multiple participants were smacking their legs or shouting encouragement to their bodies.
The duathlon is one of the fitness center’s monthly fitness events and offers participants an opportunity to break from their normal workout routines.
“We want to have people come out and engage in a different activity to break the norm of what they do every day,” said CJ Thornton, recreation assistant and event organizer. “It’s a unique chance to be able to try out different fitness levels.”
For more information about this or other fitness center events, call 567-6288.