Soldier competes in Triathlon Grand Final Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 November 2012
By Matt Decker
Leisure/Sports editor
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Second Lt. Roxanne Wegman has met and overcome many challenges to achieve her goals as a triathlete. Representing the U.S. and the Army at the International Triathlon Union Grand Final, held Oct. 20-22 in Auckland, New Zealand, tops her list of achievements, so far.

“It’s an extremely great honor. I never thought I would be representing the United States in any sport,” Wegman said.

Wegman, 25, is currently a student in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School’s Basic Officer Leader Course, and is attached to Company A, 84th Chemical Battalion. She was one of seven female Americans that made up Team USA in the 25-29 age division.

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Wegman
According to triathlon.org, Wegman was the third member of Team USA to cross the finish line, taking 46th overall in a field of nearly 80 qualifiers in her age bracket. She finished the 1-mile swim, 25-mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run in two hours, 38 minutes, 2 seconds.

“There were 175 countries represented,” she said. “The help and support I received just made it a great event, and it was an amazing experience meeting athletes from all over the world.”

Wegman qualified for the race in August 2011, when she finished in the top 18 out of thousands of participants at the ITU National Championships in Burlington, Vermont. To get ready for the Auckland race, she trained every chance she could.

“The time requirement for training for triathlon is anywhere from four to five hours per day minimum,” she said. “You’re constantly preparing, even in the off season. Just like long-distance running or any endurance sport, it’s based on the cardiovascular work you do and the strength and endurance work you do in all three sports.”

Wegman considers the race the pinnacle of her career as a athlete, a career that included being star cross country runner in high school in her hometown of Albany, N.Y. She ran Division 1 track for West Point but left after suffering an injury. She recovered while doing mission work in Taiwan, then ran distance events for another university, where she suffered another, more serious injury that threatened to end her athletic career.

“I was told I would never run competitively again. I wasn’t going to let that happen,” she said.

It was after she returned to West Point that Wegman discovered the sport of triathlon. While not an NCAA-sanctioned sport, West Point, like many other schools, has a triathlon club that unofficially competes for the school.

“I knew a couple of my track teammates who had shifted over to triathlon after injuries — and they wanted to try something new. So did I,” Wegman said.

Running was naturally her strength, but Wegman had to quickly overcome a learning curve on the other two portions of the triathlon.

“I had never really biked (competitively) before; I didn’t own a bike, and I had never done a swim workout in my life. But I had been running for 12 years, so I thought, ‘alright, I’ll learn to bike and learn to swim — I’ll figure it out,” she said. “I was probably the worst swimmer on the West Point team. It was just through hard work that I built myself up, and I was really nurtured by that team. I was very fortunate that the team gave me a lot of opportunities to race last year.”

The Auckland race presented Wegman with some challenges she hadn’t faced before, including the opening 1,500-meter swim through 60-degree ocean water.

“There were waves upwards of three to four feet. It was very cold and very intense — it was the most intense swim I’ve ever done. It takes significantly more energy to do an ocean swim — you have to alter your stroke, as well,” she said.

The transitions between the swim area and the bike ride and the ride and the run portion of the triathlon were also more intense.

“After you run out of the water, you’re stripping off your goggles and cap as you’re running toward you bike. You run through transition, and the first one was probably a quarter-mile run. It was the largest transition area I’ve ever seen. There had to be something like 3,000 bikes there,” she said.

The running portion of each race is still her favorite, although Wegman said she feels she is improving at the bike and swimming portions of each event she completes. She said that one of her dreams is to make the All-Army Triathlon Team.

“I’m going to see where it goes. My top priority right now is being an Army lieutenant. The BOLC schedule can be intense, some days. So, trying to strike a balance between learning my duties as a new chemical officer with being someone who is a lover of triathlon — I’d like to keep a healthy balance there. The triathlon is a passion, but it can’t be a job. Still, I’d like to see how far I can go,” she said.

Her training schedule remains intense, whether she is swimming between morning PT and classes, running or swimming during lunch, or spending hours on a bike or a trainer in the evening, Wegman train as if her next race is tomorrow.

“Training for a triathlon is a matter of doing as much as you possibly can — trying to get some quality (training) in, but doing it when you can,” she said.

Wegman also expressed her appreciation for her chain of command within the 84th Chemical Battalion for allowing her to pursue her goals.

Wegman said throughout her athletic and military career, she tries to follow the advice she received from one of her high school coaches.

“I was a horrible runner when I first started — I was terrible — but by the time I graduated I had made All American and led my team to nationals in cross country,” she said. “I was told by a coach early on was that ‘hard work over time will beat talent, or force talent to rise to a higher level.’ And that’s the thing about triathlon — you don’t have to be super talented, but if you put in a lot of time and a lot of hard work you can be successful.”
 
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 November 2012 )