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NEWS | Sept. 9, 2008

Physical fitness allows path to victory in Randolph biathlon

By Thomas Warner Staff writer

The idea that Orlando Gonzales and Bill Relyea could win the two-person biathlon held Aug. 30 at Randolph Air Force Base seemed logical enough, based on their training routine and experience. 

Relyea routinely runs footraces of all distances and was in Belgium recently for the duathlon world championships, which tested participants with a 20-kilometer run followed by a 50-kilometer bike ride and another 10-kilometer run. 

Gonzales' training routine includes pedaling in excess of 125 miles a week and he is a veteran of countless biathlons, duathlons, road races and cycling events. 

The duo won the recent Randolph biathlon at Eberle Park, that featured a format where one person ran a route of 3.5 miles and their partner rode a bicycle 10 miles. First-place did not come easily, though. 

"I had faith in Bill because I've known him more than 15 years and I know he is a competitor," said Gonzales, AFPC Leadership Development Office program manager.
Gonzales rode the bike route at a pace of 23 miles per hour and was in third place when he handed off to Relyea for the run. 

"I had to overtake those two people and the leader was about 45 seconds in front of me," said Relyea, a former active-duty Randolph team member who worked here later as a contractor for Lockheed-Martin. "There were a lot of good athletes entered in the biathlon." 

Relyea overtook both men in front of him and secured the win for his team at a time of 44 minutes, 25 seconds. At 45:29, second place went to the team of Pete Bromen and Doug Hamlin, of the 12th Flying Training Wing Safety Office. 

"Doug came in first among the group of cyclists and I knew there were some fast runners I'd be going against," said Bromen. "I am a long-distance runner, but that was not as long of a route." 

Gonzales and Hamlin stayed near the front of the pack of riders, who mostly rode 21-speed road racing bikes along the flat Randolph course. Hamlin broke away from the trailing pack and created a lead for himself prior to handing off for the running portion of the event. 

"There was a light breeze out there that worked in your favor in one direction then worked against you the other way," Hamlin said. "Being in events like that lets you see how rewarding it is to maintain a high level of fitness. It was fun and challenging."
Gonzales acknowledged that Hamlin surged from the group and could not be reeled-in. 

"I was leading at the 4.5-mile mark but they passed me and I couldn't close the gap," Gonzales said. "There were a lot of solid runners and cyclists out there and for me, personally, I was able to rely on the constant training I do. 

"Civilians and active-duty people are allowed three hours a week to train and it's something I really try to take advantage of. It's a benefit we're afforded by working here." 

Third place went to Isaiah Thomason and Ryan Vanbockel with a time of 47:49.