GREAT FALLS – Most athletes commit to their sport full-time, but what if you also had another full-time job to focus on while still performing in your sport at a high level? One Airman from Malmstrom Air Force Base does just that.
Captain Joel Bischoff is one of the Airmen stationed on Malmstrom Air Force Base. He is a member of the United States Air Force Triathlon Team. As you can imagine, adding rigorous training on top of your duties on base means he doesn’t get a lot of free time.
“Typically I’m waking up every morning around 5 a.m. I go hit the pool, I’ll swim anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 yards, sometimes up to 4,000 yards. After that, I’ll maybe do a short weight routine, some strength training,” said Bischoff. “Then at lunchtime, I’ll try to break away for about an hour if I can do that. You’ll see me either run or bike around the installation perimeter, as many times as I can get in. On Saturdays and Sundays, I have a long run and ride out somewhere.”
This year was the fourth year that Captain Bischoff competed at the Department of Defense National Championships, held on the base in Ventura County, California. This year he qualified for the second year in a row for the World Military Triathlon Championship. Captain Bischoff competed last year in Warendorf, Germany. This year it was in Lidkoping Sweden, due to a logistical issue the Captain wasn’t able to travel over there, so he’ll be sent to do a make-up race for the USA Triathlon National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio in August.
“The process of qualifying for that is in the race. My goal was just to always make the Air Force team. But then when I started getting closer to the top competitors during that race, you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m sitting right now in the seventh position, and all I’ve got to do now is chase down two more individuals and I get a ticket to Sweden, Germany or somewhere else,'” said Bischoff. “It’s just a really unique experience and just an incredible honor to be able to get out there and compete and obviously still represent the Air Force at that top level.”
Being able to compete with athletes from other countries is one of the best thrills for Captain Bischoff.
“Being able to qualify for one of these military world championships is a really incredible unique opportunity. The slogan they have there is, ‘Friendship through sport,'” said Bischoff. “It’s a really unique experience to go over there and compete with Russians, Chinese, people you don’t get to normally hang out with and see too much, as well as a lot of other of our allied nations are there, as well — but just all coming together and competing in sporting competing as friends.”
Captain Bischoff started doing triathlons down at Helena, when he was on the track, swimming, and cross country teams at Helena High. Then his competitive drive molded into supporting a much bigger cause.
“My father actually went through a spat of cancer in 2009. He got diagnosed with multiple myeloma and I was able to run with the multiple myeloma team,” said Bischoff. “So we were able to run for a good cause there and help my dad fight cancer. For five years he fought it. That was a really honorable thing for me to do and I really enjoyed that. So now it’s promoting my own personal fitness going through the challenges we go through here but also as a legacy for my dad.”
The Captain says his best time in the triathlon is around 1 hour, 50 minutes. He enjoys the community of endurance athletes that triathlons bring. He’s met a lot of friends through it and Captain Bischoff loves comparing stories with fellow athletes about balancing everything with the sport.
For more information on Captain Joel Bischoff, click here.