An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Space operators represents Buckley, AF at grueling triathlon

1st Lt. John Bierman, 2nd Space Warning Squadron Delta Crew deputy flight commander, rides a bike in a 2014 triathlon in Tempe, Arizona. Bierman competed for four years on the United States Air Force Academy triathlon team and will compete for the third time on the U.S. Air Force triathlon team June 15-19, 2016, in Ventura County, Calif. (Courtesy photo by Vivien Cook)

1st Lt. John Bierman, 2nd Space Warning Squadron Delta Crew deputy flight commander, rides a bike in a 2014 triathlon in Tempe, Arizona. Bierman competed for four years on the United States Air Force Academy triathlon team and will compete for the third time on the U.S. Air Force triathlon team June 15-19, 2016, in Ventura County, Calif. (Courtesy photo by Vivien Cook)


The gun goes off, everyone sprints for the water, and all that can be heard for a mile is the frantic splashing of competitors trying to swim faster than the person next to them.

They leap out of the water and jump on a bike, pedaling as fast as their legs can move. It takes coordination, concentration and an attack plan to push through the grueling 25 miles.

Finally, the exhausting run. There’s almost a sense of relief knowing that it’s the last obstacle and the triathlon is almost over. The pressure mounts as the last leg of the race, 10K or 6.2 miles, tends to be the deciding factor of victory, or walking away with sore, and with nothing.

1st Lt. John, 2nd Space Warning Squadron Delta Crew deputy flight commander, is no stranger to triathlons and will compete once again June 15-19, 2016, in the Armed Forces Championship in Ventura County, Calif.

The thoughts running through competitors’ minds during a triathlon varies, but for John he attacks each component as he gets to it.

“I competed on the United States Air Force Academy Triathlon Team for four years and being able to continue competition in a professional capacity to represent the Air Force, Buckley Air Force Base, and 2nd Space Warning Squadron, is an opportunity I value very highly,” said the triathlete.

John isn’t the only Team Buckley member that will represent the Air Force in the Armed Forces Championship. Capt. Michael, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4, Operating Location Buckley, Space-Based Infrared System test director, will compete as an Air Force team member for the first time this year.

Dunn entered the competition since 2010 as an open competitor, which means their results would not be included with the competition of the four services.

“It means a lot to have this opportunity to represent the Air Force in the competition this year,” said Michael. “I am thrilled and humbled that I now have the opportunity to compete with some of the best triathletes in the U.S. Armed Forces as a member of the USAF team. Looking forward to lay it all on the line for the team!”

The triathlon rankings are both from individuals and teams, however the individuals place an emphasis on the team as a whole. Their sense of camaraderie is evident in the attempts to put the team first.

“I'm competing to represent the Air Force and contribute to the team finish as best I can,” said John. “Hopefully I'm in a position to finish high in the standings, but if I can contribute to one of my teammates finishing higher, then I'd be more than happy to burn a few matches to sacrifice for the team.”

Training takes a large amount of triathlon athlete’s time. The choice of sleep, spending time with family and friends, or training is something triathletes often struggle with; however, scheduling provides some relief.

“You have to be very disciplined with your schedule to make sure you can spend time with those you matter most,” said Michael. “Sleeping in is not an option. When the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. telling you it's time to get up to head to the pool before work, you can't hit the snooze button.”

The structure of training for three events; swimming, running and biking; simultaneously took dedication to stay the course, not to mention life throwing curveballs.

“Training while working a crew presents a special set of challenges, especially on mid shifts,” said John. “I am a member of a master's swim team that practices three days a week and I try to make as many of those as my schedule allows. The rest of my week consists of fitting in runs, rides and extra swims in around my schedule any way I can. Luckily, I am able to fit in some core and strength training on the floor.”

Even with strenuous training schedules, triathletes use what they learn in training throughout lives. The translation of self-control provides the individual with a sense of what their limits are.

“It takes constant discipline to manage all aspects of the sport, and that translates back to day-to-day life,” said Michael. “Each event is a chance to break a previous personal record, to see how much harder you can go. In this particular event though, it goes beyond oneself and now extends to the team.”

The discipline involved in training takes up a lot of time, but also provides an opportunity to form new friendships.

“The relationships I've made through each triathlon are priceless and I wouldn't trade my experiences with those people for anything,” said John. “No matter how the race shakes out, it's always good to get together with other military athletes and compete; best part of the experience.”

John and Michael have strengthened their bond since both qualifying for the U.S. Air Force Triathlon team, they even scheduled swim sessions to train with each other.

“I'm honored to be allowed to compete as a member of this team, and proud to be racing alongside Lt. John,” said Michael.

And for Michael, one main goal is burned in the front of his mind: “Beat Army, Sink Navy.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.