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NEWS | Oct. 6, 2008

Rambler 120 features more teams than ever

By Thomas Warner Staff writer

One week remains before the annual Rambler 120 Team Challenge and a record number of teams have signed up to participate. 

The event takes place Oct. 18 at Canyon Lake's Randolph Recreation Park, and 49 teams have registered to take part in the triathlon, with a mystery event thrown in.

"We're now in the home stretch and the only thing left is to actually have the event," said Steve Knechtel, Rambler 120 organization chairman. "We've got 34 relay teams and 15 Xtreme teams and, besides the large group, we've got a record number of off-base entries." 

Mr. Knechtel said 13 teams from Lackland Air Force Base have entered, along with four from Laughlin AFB and two from Vance AFB in Oklahoma. All that's left is coordinating the contingent of volunteers who will ensure the success of the early-morning event. 

Last year's winning team from Air Force Personnel Center - William Relyea, Sean Slaughter, Rob Thomas and Timothy Moser - with a time of two hours, 20 minutes and 53 seconds, will again push their limits in the Rambler 120, with one exception. 

"We lost one guy (Slaughter) to a PCS, but we picked up Maj. Steve Frank and we think we can do well this year," said Moser, who said the toughest portion of the Rambler 120 is the transition from biking to running. 

A safety briefing will precede the 22-mile bicycle route that opens the challenge. Volunteers are asked to arrive at 5:30 a.m. for set-up and other preparations. Teams will be allowed in the park at 6 a.m. and one team member can represent the entire group at the sign-up table if all paperwork is complete. 

"All participants must have signed a liability waiver form, but those will be turned in ahead of time by many of the teams," Mr. Knechtel said. "They can bring it with them the day of the event, but it will save time to submit it early." 

Team meetings took place Oct. 2 and 6 at Randolph, where much of the preparatory information was disseminated. Each team has been allowed one official vehicle, which can be used to shuttle information or team members to and from checkpoints, start points and finish lines.

Relay teams will consist of five to eight people and Xtreme teams will be made up of four. Following the bike ride will be six miles of road running and two miles of paddling rafts. Somewhere in the mix will be a mystery event, but organizers have had little to say about it. 

"It is not known to anyone and it promises to challenge participants who will already have been pushed to the limit," Mr. Knechtel said. 

Three businesses from the Canyon Lake area have donated rafts to be used in the paddling portion of the competition. Called "self-bailing" rafts, they measure 11 feet and can carry two people. 

Once all segments of the challenge are completed, all team members will join together for a dash to the finish line. 

"Teams have been given a clearly-defined set of rules and we expect things to go smoothly," Mr. Knechtel said. "The competition gets heated and there are always so many people out there in tip-top shape. It's a unique event that tests ability and stamina."

A barbecue meal will be provided to event participants, volunteers and organizers. Spectators can purchase a plate for $5. Children ages 11 and under eat for free.

For more information on the Rambler 120, call Mr. Knechtel at 652-6508 or e-mail