CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) — Nearly 600 athletes battled it out in the surf, sand and on asphalt at the 30th Annual Superfrog triathlon and the first SuperSEAL competition at Silver Strand State Beach, Calif., April 6.
The goal of the two endurance races, open to the public, was to promote fitness and to raise money for the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Foundation, said Moki Martin, the race director. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides support for NSW service members, past and present, and their families in times of need.
The Superfrog is a half-Ironman, circuit-style race composed of a 1.2-mile, open-ocean swim followed by a 56-mile bike ride over flat pavement. The last event is a grueling 13.1-mile run, largely through soft sand.
Athletes set off in groups, identified by different colored swimming caps. Each participant wore an electronic chip around their ankle that logged their individual start and finish time.
Navy SEALs are special warfare commandos whose training is weighted heavily toward running and swimming, making a triathlon perfect for a SEAL-inspired event.
The new SuperSEAL event is a shorter, Olympic-distance event designed to attract athletes who would rather not subject themselves to the rigors of Superfrog, said Martin. The first event was a 1.5-kilomater swim in Silver Strand State Beach Bay, much calmer than the crashing ocean waves, just meters away. This was followed by a flat 40 kilometers bike ride and a 10-kilometer run over solid pavement and dirt trails. Event planners intend to hold the SuperSEAL again next year in conjunction with the Superfrog.
"I’m so proud it has got to this point because of all the hard work over the past 30 years," said Martin, a retired SEAL. Martin founded the Superfrog in 1979 and competed in the first four races. Since then, the event has evolved from just a handful of participants to the well-attended event it is today.
Capt. Roger G. Herbert, commander, NSW Center, presented ornamental detonator-box trophies to winners in various categories, a fitting tribute to Navy SEALs. Philippe Krebs, from La Jolla, Calif., was the overall Superfrog winner in the male category, with a race time of 4:18:06. Emily Finanger, 28, who travelled from Boulder, Colo. for the race, took first place in the women’s category with a race time of 4:37:41 – her second consecutive Superfrog win. Both champions were awarded decorative wooden paddles.
"It’s a really hard race," said Finanger. "It’s always a challenge mentally because of the multiple loops. The Navy SEALs are tough people and it’s really neat to be racing with that caliber of athlete."
More than 220 athletes entered the Superfrog this year. All finishers earned a special 30th anniversary commemorative medal strung from a green ribbon. Almost 350 athletes entered the SuperSEAL, each of whom received a T-shirt marking the event.
The competitions attracted racers of all ages.
"I do this every year if I can," said Ray Hollenbeck, a retired SEAL and the most senior Superfrog participant. Hollenbeck tackled the bike leg of the race as part of a relay team. He was a contestant in the first Superfrog and was proud to be part of the ongoing tradition, he said.
Many athletes took part in the event to kick start the upcoming triathlon season. Others just wanted to do something to give back to the military community.
"Any time I can do anything for the military, for me, that’s the number one thing," said Monique Beauchamp, one of the many SuperSEAL participants. "I really like to support our armed services."
Hundreds of people came out to support the Superfrog and SuperSEAL events either by cheering on participants or volunteering to direct racers, hand out water, keep time or one of the many other important jobs behind the scenes.
"The race absolutely cannot happen without our volunteers," said Lt. Cmdr. Eric D. Rehberg, the assistant race director. "We have had such incredible support, including the MarVista JROTC, Boy Scouts and Naval Special Warfare."