MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS Calif. --
The Combat Center’s triathlon team trains hard to meet their goals in their difficult sports of choice, to include weekly 25-mile rides on Wednesdays, and further training when their units’ schedules allow.
The club and others still in the works, will hopefully provide more Marines with the chance to participate in marathons, triathlons and other grueling sports, said Don Tolbert, the co-captain of the team and a native of Canton, Ohio.
“By establishing these clubs, we hope to provide Marines with the opportunity to compete in endurance sports,” Tolbert said.
The club has multiple teams engaged with approximately 70 athletes. They already participate in events such as triathlons and an upcoming road bike team however, plans are still in the works for a mountain bike team and a marathon team.
Tolbert says his passion for the sport, combined with the motivation of others like him, has helped not only form the core of the team, but bring new athletes in and train them as well.
“The older, more seasoned athletes enjoy it. It involves a lot of mentoring,” he said. “The younger guys benefit from a lot of informal coaching.
“They’re the ones who are eventually going to replace [the rest of the team],” he added. “You want to make sure you train them right.”
Arthur Schocken, who recently stepped aboard the Combat Center, said he was glad to join the club and continue a hobby he enjoyed at his former duty station.
“Riding with the group is great for endurance,” said the Tualatin, Ore., native. “After our warm-up, we break off and it’s every man for himself.
“Riding with the more seasoned guys is the best way to get faster,” he said.
Jason Marinaro, one of the more junior athletes on the team, is a testament to what one can accomplish with the right mentoring and work ethic.
“I’ve been participating with the club for six months now,” said the Kansas City, Mo., native. “I got into it initially because I was tired of just running, and I wanted to pick up other sports and disciplines.”
Marinaro said being a student of the game is just as important as one’s physical attributes.
“It’s a great learning experience every time we go out and ride,” he said. “When I started, I hadn’t ridden a bike in twenty-something years. But now, I’d say I really enjoy the competition in running the triathlons and seeing how far I can push myself.”
Regardless of their position on the team, all of the riders encourage others of all fitness levels and experience to join them.
“You’ve got to pick up the phone if you want to participate,” said Tolbert. “Anyone is welcome to come out and give it a shot.”
For more information about joining the club, call the co-captain of the team at 830-5581.