Astronaut To Compete In Space Triathlon.

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams is set to compete in the world’s first Triathlon in space whilst orbiting 240 miles above the earth during her second long-duration visit to the International Space Station. Williams plans to participate in the 26th annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September but unlike the other 5000 athletes gathering for the event in Zuma Beach, California, Williams will attempt to complete the entire event in Space.

The land based event in Zuma Beach consists of a gruelling course divided into three distinct disciplines, swimming for half a mile in the Pacific Ocean, cycling for eighteen miles and running four miles through the streets of Malibu. Williams` task will be to run and pedal on specially adapted equipment aboard the station used primarily for the regular astronauts daily fitness regimes and perform a series of bench presses that will serve as the microgravity equivalent of swimming.  Astronauts on long-duration missions at the orbiting outpost exercise roughly two hours each day to combat loss of bone and muscle density. The space station is equipped with a specially designed stationary bike, treadmill (complete with harnesses to keep participants from floating away) and a machine called the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, or ARED, which acts as a weightlifting machine.

She now has just under a month to prepare for the event and as part of her training for the event Williams participated from space in the Aug. 12 Falmouth Road Race, an annual seven-mile race from Woods Hole in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts. This is however not the first time Williams has competed in orbit in a major athletic event. In 2007 she ran the Boston Marathon from the station finishing with an official time of four hours, 23 minutes and 10 seconds.

Williams quotes….

“Microgravity is nice to your body, you can float around, it feels good, but when you simulate gravity — when you’re on either the treadmill or the ARED — it sort of hurts. So it’s been a bit of an adjustment to get into the exercise.”

“The first two weeks we’ve sort of used as a just-get-used-to-the-equipment, get used to the protocols that we’re doing, so I think we’re at that point that we’re finally adapted and ready to start building on it. So, just watch out, because now I’m ready to really start preparing for the triathlon.”

There are currently six people living and working aboard the space station. In September Williams will assume command of the station’s Expedition 33 crew, becoming only the second woman to lead the orbiting outpost.


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