CORONADO, CA — Nearly 900 athletes tested their mental and physical endurance at the 31st Annual Superfrog triathlon and the 2nd Annual Super SEAL competition at Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado, Calif., March 29..
Open to the public, the Superfrog remains the original race of Navy SEALs and Frogmen, and features a 1.2-mile, open-ocean swim (two 1,000-yard legs separated by a 200-yard beach run), 56-mile bike ride over pavement and 13.1-mile run through soft sand. The Super SEAL, run concurrently incorporates a comparatively less-demanding 1.5-kilometer bay swim, followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run on pavement.
There was some stiff competition this year. The event was the biggest to date and attracted both amateur and professional athletes from as far as Australia.
“It went exceptionally well, with the number of races we had and as much as we’ve grown,” said Moki Martin, race director. “We’re not just a wild-eyed, traditional triathlon anymore. We had some world-class athletes.”
Navy SEALs are special warfare commandos whose fundamental skills include both running and swimming, making a triathlon a fitting event to honor them.
Proceeds from the event will directly benefit the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, said Martin, a retired Navy SEAL. The foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor all who have served in the sea commando services and to perpetuate their heritage, values and traditions.
“I remember decades ago when it was just a handful of men and women,” said Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli, deputy commander, Naval Special Warfare Command (NSW). “Now to have nearly 900 competitors, it’s just a tremendous turn out. It’s great to have fellow Americans compete against United States Navy SEALs. It’s a spectacular event.”
The events were run in heats. Each athlete was identified by different colored swim caps, and individual times were kept via electronic ankle bracelets, provided by race organizers.
Bonelli presented trophies that were reminiscent of old detonator boxes and cash prizes to race winners in various divisions. Chris McDonald from Australia was the overall Superfrog XXXI winner with a race time of 3:55:47. Renata Bucher of San Diego took first place in the women’s division with a race time of 4:59:51. Both champions were awarded traditional SEAL wooden boat paddles for their accomplishment. Jordan Rapp won Super SEAL 2 with a race time of 1:50:22, while Angela Axman from Germany took first place in the female division with a race time of 2:07:29.
“I had a good race today,” said McDonald, who lives in Boulder, Colo., and has been racing professionally since 2004. “It was my first race of the season, so I was kind of blowing out the cobwebs.”
Bonelli also presented the Naval Special Warfare Commodore’s Trophy to Cmdr. Jeffrey Drinkard, commander, Special Boat Team 12, for the NSW team with the fastest combined time from their best four racers. This was the first time that a boat team had won the award, said Drinkard, who hopes for a repeat performance next year.
The Superfrog is considered to be one of the most challenging triathlons in the country, even by professional standards. Most competitors said they found the soft-sand run to be the most grueling part of the race.
“The deep sand up there just absolutely tears your quads apart,” said McDonald.
Despite aching muscles and sore feet, the spirit of the race kept athletes pushing to the finish line.
“It’s different from other races because you’re surrounded by guys who put their life on the line,” said Lars Finanger, who placed second in the Superfrog. “Triathlons are kind of meaningless when you think of things on that kind of scale, so you have to finish. That stuff just doesn’t seem to matter, but it’s still painful out there.”
It wasn’t just athletes who showed up to the triathlon. Hundreds of volunteers and spectators came to support the event and the foundation.
“Having the opportunity to provide money for the foundation is great,” said Eric Rehberg, assistant race director. “Over the years the foundation has helped families and individuals. It has always been a good thing but has never been as poignant as is has been over the past six years � with people coming back with combat injuries.”
NSW is a maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command and the Navy’s special operations force. The community is composed of more than 6,700 personnel, including 2,300 SEALs, 600 special warfare combatant-craft crewmen (SWCC), along with military support personnel, Reserve components and civilian staff. SEALs and SWCC focus on missions involving unconventional warfare, direct action, combating terrorism, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, personnel recovery and hydrographic reconnaissance.
For more information about the race, go here: http://www.superfrogtriathlon.com/