Pushing the Limits
James Vika recently separated from active duty with the United States Navy as a Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer, supervising nuclear power plant operations on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, based out of Norfolk, Va. He served for six years and was stationed in Norfolk, Va., Charleston, S.C., and San Diego, Calif.
This is James’ first triathlon ever but he’s no stranger to pushing himself physically. He had heart surgery in 2012 after doctors discovered a hole in his heart during a flight physical. Since then, he completed his service in the Navy and went on to run his first marathon in 2017.
“The military always pushes your team and individual limits. It’s often what defines your career,” James said. “Between working very long hours, completing seemingly impossible tasks and months spent away from home – the military always tests us. A triathlon is just another opportunity to see where my physical limits are and try to get past them.”
A current resident of Manassas, Va., who will be attending the University of Maryland this fall for his MBA, James is looking forward to spending time in Luray. “I’ve heard great things about how well run the event is and how beautiful Luray is,” he said. “This will be my first ever trip to the Shenandoah Mountains and we’ll be spending the weekend in the town. Hopefully I won’t be too sore and miss out on exploring the caves.”
Leading by Example
William “Bill” Brohard, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force, has served in the National Guard for 30 years. He is currently assigned to the National Guard Bureau, which develops training programs and exercises, and prepares for homeland defense and disaster response. Bill has been deployed to domestic and international relief efforts, national security events and to the Middle East supporting the War on Terror. Later this summer, he will be the commander of the DC Air National Guard Logistics Readiness Squadron, just one of many ways he leads others.
On the weekends, Bill spends much of his time watching his two daughters compete in their respective sports around the country. His college-aged daughter, who is a swimmer at Wheaton College in Illinois, is competing in the Luray Triathlon with him. His younger daughter is a track and field sprinter, competing from New York to Florida and many places in between. When he’s not a spectator watching them compete, Bill and his wife Reneé lead an active life running, cycling and hiking.
“A couple years ago I thought a triathlon would be fun, and I was right,” Bill said.
“I appreciate the skill and endurance required to accomplish all three events in one race, and registered for my first half-Ironman this September. It keeps me active and scratches my competitive itch.”
Though this is Bill’s first time doing the Luray Triathlon it’s his third triathlon overall and he’s excited to return to Luray. “Reneé and I spent a few days hiking and biking in Luray last spring and loved the natural beauty, terrain and friendly residents,” he said. “This should prove to be a great place for a race! The timing is also right as a training race for my half-Ironman in September.
Bill acknowledges the military’s strong emphasis on fitness. “As an officer, I try to literally lead from the front. I challenge my airmen by offering to buy lunch for anyone who exceeds my annual fitness test score,” he said. “It’s a great way to both motivate the troops and keep in shape.” He also enjoys being able to participate in triathlons with his daughter. “I hope triathlons are something we can do together for many years to come; it’s great father-daughter time.” Bill’s even hopeful that he can get his other daughter on a bike so she can join them in the future.