Iceman wins Triathlon

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ak.—1st Lt. Benjamin Bishop, 354th Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight, slices through the water during his 2.4 mile swim portion of the ChesapeakeMan Ultra Distance Triathlon Sept. 30 in Cambridge, Md. (Courtesy photo)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ak.—1st Lt. Benjamin Bishop, 354th Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight, slices through the water during his 2.4 mile swim portion of the ChesapeakeMan Ultra Distance Triathlon Sept. 30 in Cambridge, Md. (Courtesy photo)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- An Iceman triathlete swam, biked, and ran his way to victory at the 2006 ChesapeakeMan Ultra Distance Triathlon Sept. 30 in Cambridge, Md.

First Lt. Benjamin Bishop, 354th Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight, crushed a field of almost 200 competitors en route to a personal-best time of 9 hours, 47 minutes and 53 seconds. Lieutenant Bishop swam 2.4 miles, cycled 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles to claim the title.

Lieutenant Bishop's closest rival finished the event in 10:03:33, more than 15 minutes behind him. Lieutenant Bishop had the added incentive of a cheering section to root him on. Girlfriend Jessi Ehrlich was in attendance and mother and father Jeanne and Mark Bishop drove all the way from Grand Rapids, Mich., to back their son.

This was Lieutenant Bishop's second attempt at an IronMan-distance triathlon crown. In his first IronMan competition, held July 16 in and around Klagenfurt, Austria, he logged a finishing time of 10:08:33, placing 245 out of 2,201 competitors.

"I've been training since last fall. I was in Iraq from January to May, and I did quite a bit of swimming at the pool in Balad," Lieutenant Bishop said. "I did the Eielson Fitness Center's mini triathlon in May and IronMan Austria in July, and it really helped me get a better feel for what it takes to do well."

Lieutenant Bishop attributed his success to his prioritization of a healthy lifestyle.

"I think physical fitness is paramount," he said. "Having a healthy diet and exercise routine gives one an attainable and controllable function in life."

Maj. Todd Craigie, 354th Fighter Wing Inspector General, also participated in the ChesapeakeMan and finished the course in 12:31:11, placing 69 out of 174 competitors.

Major Craigie labels himself as a "recreational triathlete" due to the limited training time he devotes to the sport. This was his seventh IronMan-distance triathlon; he has raced and finished IronMan Japan in 1995 and 1996, IronMan New Zealand in 1996 and 1997, IronMan Australia in 2000 and IronMan Korea in 2003.

"I trained all spring and summer, mostly on the weekends," Major Craigie said. "My tune-up events, used as training events, were the Eielson Fitness Center's mini triathlon in May; the Anchorage Mayor's Midnight Sun half marathon in June; the Sourdough half IronMan Triathlon in July; the Eielson Fitness Center's half marathon in August; and the Equinox marathon in mid-September."

As far as motivation goes, Maj. Craigie said racing with people he knows makes it motivating for him.

"When I finally saw Lieutenant Bishop on the run, he was almost at mile 18 and I had just started," he said. "Every time we passed on the run course out-and-backs, I would shout motivational encouragement at the top of my lungs - I'm sure the other runners must have thought I was out of my mind."

Both Major Craigie and Lieutenant Bishop intend to race IronMan Brazil on May 27, 2007. If Lieutenant Bishop can manage another strong performance at IronMan Brazil, he stands a good chance at earning a qualifying slot for the 2007 IronMan World Championship, held every October in and around Kona, Hi.

Maj. Todd Craigie contributed to this article.