MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- A trio of Fightertown Marines used their feet, arms and legs to launch an amphibious assault on Coligny Beach in Hilton Head, June 4.
Fifty minutes and 19 seconds later, the Marines declared victory with a ninth place overall finish in the Hilton Head Island Beach Bum Triathlon.
Sergeant Joseph Lester, Cpl. Edward Garcia and Lance Cpl. Anthony Taveras, competed in the 500 yard ocean swim, six mile beach bike and three mile run as Team Swamp Fox.
Garcia took the plunge as the team swimmer while Lester tackled the turf on a bicycle and Taveras sprinted to the finish of the relay triathlon. The team finished in fourth place in the relay team division.
“We were very happy with the way we competed,” Lester said. “We really performed well as a team, especially since it was our first competition.”
Lester became interested in the competition after hooking up with a running club in Savannah.
“It’s just something that comes naturally to Marines,” Lester said. “If you’re going to spend a lot of time working out and training your body you might as well have some fun with it.”
Lester enlisted the aid of Garcia and Taveras after finding out their natural athletic talents made them prime triathlon material.
“Taveras is an excellent runner and Garcia is a good swimmer even though he has never swam competitively before,” Lester said. “After I got them to agree, all I had to do was find a bike to ride and we were ready.”
While neither Garcia nor Lester had ever raced in competition before, the Beach Bum added a twist to the triathlon that only a true beach lover could enjoy.
“It’s a lot different when you’re doing this stuff on the beach,” Taveras said. “I probably had the easiest event because running is running but the biking and swimming were a lot more difficult.”
For the racers, the opening leg of the event, the 500-yard swim, was the most difficult part.
“It was tough with that big mass of people all swimming for the same point,” Garcia said. “I got punched and kicked in the head a couple of times, but that just goes with the territory. I was really happy with our finish time though. I was glad I did not shave my body and wear a Speedo for nothing.”
The team finished ninth out of 69 overall with their 50 minute, 19 second time. The top finisher cruised across the line in 45 minutes, 29 seconds. The Swamp Foxes took fourth out of nine teams, high enough to take home one of the coveted coconut trophies.
“After the race was over we found out that the top team was a professional racing team sponsored by the Beach Bum’s main sponsor,” Lester said. “They happened to be on vacation and competed in the race. Without them we could have taken third place so that is pretty motivating to keep at it.”
The team is focusing on their individual skills in preparation for their next triathlon in July.
“We are all working hard on our own events,” Lester said. “The Beach Bum was our way of getting our feet wet, now I think we’re ready to really compete.”