MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Marine Corps Community Services held the 34th annual MCCS Iwakuni Modified Triathlon here Sunday.
200 participants came out to fight their way through a 1 kilometer swim, a 32k bike ride, and two 4k runs.
Shin Sugino, a well-respected marathon runner and member of the Hiroshima Triathlon Club, led the pack, completing the 41k triathlon in 1:44:29, what he says to be “a pretty good time.”
Sugino was competing in the 29-years-old and under category but also won first place overall. For the 30-49-years-old age group, Nobuhisa Tanigawa lead his class with a time of 1:48:01, happened to tie with Masakatsu Kawamura the leader of the 50 and over age group.
Females also had their own age groups. Aiko Mibara lead the 34 and under group with a time of 1:59:45. Yuko Kishida lead the 35 and over female age group with a time of 2:05:44.
The race was a unique triathlon due to the changes in the order of events.
Due to restrictions and construction zones at the station, the triathlon needed modifications in order to meet station requirements.
“A normal triathlon is a swim, bike, and run but we did a swim, run, bike, and run,” said Thomas Durning, MCCS athletic director.
Modifications to the triathlon, brought something different to the table instead of the usual, customary style races.
“The fact that it’s modified means it’s not traditional for a lot of athletes” said Durning. “This is their only way to get on base and have an American style event, which draws a lot of competitors.”
Although it was modified, only the run was changed. MCCS coordinators tried to keep the main structure of traditional triathlons.
“We made sure to keep the swim at the beginning and to end with a footrace, because for many, that is the climax of the competition,” said Durning.
There were many competitors of different abilities and experience.
“We had everything from 1:44:29 to over 3 hours,” said Durning.
Everyone was allowed to compete in the event no matter experience or expected time.
“We accepted all people who registered,” said Durning.
“This could be the first triathlon for someone. There were no qualifications needed for this triathlon.”
Since there were no restrictions on who could participate, this was the first triathlon for many of the competitors.
“We had quite a few people who today was their first time competing in a triathlon,” said Mai Tajima, MCCS recreation specialist.
Even though there were many first-timers, not a single person quit on the track.
“A total of 200 people went out, and 200 people came in,” said Tajima.
Many of the participants came from off the station in order to compete in something unique.
“Off base there are a lot of hills, but here it is all relatively flat. There is no need to be an expert on the track layout in order to compete,” said Tajima.
Many different athletic events occur off base as well as on base giving people an opportunity to compete in teams or relays.
“Japanese even have relay marathons where one person covers one kilometer then another person takes the next,” said Tajima.
Teams were allowed to compete along with many individual from different racing clubs.
“Every participant paid 1200 yen in order to compete, but with that they all received lunch, a t-shirt, a number, a swim cap, and their score result,” said Tajima.
The triathlon brought in many competitors for many reasons including the cost and uniqueness.
“Flat area, easy, cheap and a different environment really draws people in,” said Tajima.
MCCS is hoping to continue the event next year, but for now they are focusing on a duathlon, which is run, bike, run, scheduled for December.