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Soldier, airman finish strong for Team USA

Sep. 20, 2012 - 03:20PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 20, 2012 - 03:20PM  |  

The Olympics may be over, but two more service members suited up in red, white and blue this month to represent Team USA.

Army Master Sgt. Mike Morton, 40, won gold at the International Association of Ultrarunners' 24-Hour World Championships Sept. 8 and 9 in Katowice, Poland.

A field of 248 competitors ran loops of a 1,554-meter course to see who could run the farthest in 24 hours. Morton finished nearly 10 miles ahead of Florian Reus of Germany in second place.

Morton's final distance of 172.458 miles — about eight-and-a-half minute miles — also earned him the American 24-hour record.

"I'm elated that not only did the [training] plan work — I was able to get the American record — I set some other records along the way. I think it would be tough to have a better year," said Morton, a Special Forces soldier who has already won three 100-milers and the Badwater Ultramarathon this year.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Perez, 31, finished 11th in his age group Sept. 2 at the International Triathlon Union's Long Course Duathlon World Championships in Zofingen, Switzerland.

Perez finished 134th out of 1,224 competitors, he said, but not without setbacks.

"During the race I experienced two flat tires and a broken chain," he said. "I fixed all the issues, but much like NASCAR and their pit crews, time is essential, and these ... events slowed me down. It was a great experience and lessons learned for next time: Bring a support crew to help me."

Competitors ran 10K, biked 150K and finished up with a 30K run. Next for the pro mixed martial artist is an Oct. 20 fight as part of the Shogun Fights VII card.

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