Triathlons, the love of the challenge

  • Published
  • By Airman Donald C. Knechtel
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
For many people, participating in a triathlon is a grueling thought -swimming, biking and running long distances tests one's endurance and can be difficult for some. However, for one particular Airman a triathlon is more than a race, it's a part of life he feels everyone should experience at least once.

Being an avid participant of triathlons and continuously training for the next event, 1st Lt. Corey Hayes, 28th Force Support Squadron food service officer, knows exactly what to expect.

"I love triathlons. I've been doing them for about six or so years now," Hayes said. "Any chance I get to participate in one - you'll see me first in line, especially for the triathlons on base."

Hayes first began his endurance sport journey by signing up for a marathon on a whim without a training plan and having never ran more than three miles before. Though it was challenging, it was also a learning experience for him.

"In all honesty, my first marathon was brutal," Hayes said. "I barely completed it within the cut off time, but I did learn a lot, [such as] the importance of conditioning and training."

Hayes never fails to convey his love for the sport and treats his work like he would a race: everything is in the preparation - planning for the unexpected.

"I've known Hayes for about two years now," said 1st Lt. Eva Rafferty, 28th Mission Support Group executive officer. "Besides being a little insane, I think he just really enjoys the demanding aspects of triathlons."

Hayes began doing marathons as a way to challenge himself but, as the years have gone by, he uses his training and experience to help and motivate others.

"He inspires a lot of people and has even gotten many to take part in marathons," Rafferty explained. "Hayes is very transparent about his training so you can't help but feel you should push yourself in the same way when you're training with him."

For many people, Hayes is a role model for what is possible in life and how a goal can be achieved through hard work.

"I'm a big proponent of physical fitness, but [also] that each individual should have their own definition of [the phrase]," Hayes said.

Though training is an important step in the process, Hayes believes the most important part is staying disciplined.

"The number one thing I can tell you is it's all mental," Hayes said. "Mentally pushing yourself through it and holding fast to your training is a big part of it."

Hayes expressed how he's never met someone who has finished a triathlon that didn't say how cool or fun it was, further stating if you just jump in, you'll learn something about yourself.

"I think in completing these events you really start to see what the definition of 'impossible' is," Hayes added. "My hope is to motivate others by letting them know that nothing is 'impossible,' only difficult, and honestly, if it isn't difficult, is it even worth doing?"