By Stephen Satkowski
USACE Far East District Public Affairs
SEOUL, South Korea -- 1st Lt. Johannes Olind, Liaison officer at the Far East District’s Korea Program Relocation Office, competed in an Ironman triathlon in Hefei, China Oct. 16 placing third in the 25-29 age group and 69th overall. The accomplishment was even more notable, considering more than 1000 Chinese athletes competed as well as 600 foreigners from 59 countries.
“I decided to participate because this race offered 50 qualification slots for the Hawaii Ironman and I saw this race as the best chance in my life to qualify for Hawaii,” said Olind.
The Hawaii Ironman, which includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run, was the first Ironman competition ever and has been held every year since 1978. It has a rich history of competition and serves as the Ironman world championship and is the pinnacle of the sport for professionals and amateurs alike. Olind’s interest in competing in triathlons was sparked when he was stationed in Hawaii in 2014. His enthusiasm and drive for the sport has only grown since then.
“I have built up to the Ironman 70.3 distance and am very competitive at this distance within the amateur [men] 25-29 years old division having now completed 9 of them,” said Olind. “I have never attempted a full Ironman because I have focused my training on the 70.3 distance (half Ironman) so Hawaii Ironman seemed unattainable until I learned about the races in China and pounced on the opportunity.”
Olind trained for the competition in China with a group of fellow triathletes at Camp Humphreys. The group took part in quite a few excruciatingly tough bike rides around the Pyeongtaek area.
“They are great and it helps integrate people interested in triathlons to the Korean triathlon series as well as pushing each other to become stronger through tough training,” said Olind. “Korea is a great place to swim, bike, and run; and thankfully there are many opportunities to race in triathlons in Korea too.”
Olind’s goals in China were to earn a spot for Hawaii and finish under 4 hours and 30 minutes. He did both, finishing in a time of 4 hours and 29 minutes.
“The course was built for speed, in that lake that was totally calm leading to a fast swim, a giant three lane brand new highway was completely closed off to vehicular traffic just for biking, allowing us to hammer the bike course and then the run was nice and flat,” said Olind. “Additionally, many of the amateur foreign athletes that came were some of the best in the world all vying to punch their ticket to Hawaii, so this heightened level of competition also contributed to fast times for all athletes.”
Olind will compete in triathlons in Korea for the remainder of October and then plans to take the remainder of the year off. In 2017 he will continue with his training as he plans to build up his endurance for the Hawaii Ironman competition in Oct. 2017.