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Annual summer biathlon held at Altoona Rifle and Pistol Club

This past Saturday, the Altoona Rifle and Pistol Club hosted the sixth annual Summer Biathlon.
The biathlon combines the stamina of cross country running with the accuracy of rifle marksmanship.
Participants traveled from all over Pennsylvania, as well as several other states, including New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan.
This year’s race included 65 competitors: 21 women and 44 men. There were numerous outstanding performances and personal victories.
The biathlon combines the stamina of cross country running with the accuracy of rifle marksmanship.
The shooting range can accommodate up to ten people. Runners may choose to use range rifles or their own personal rifles. The targets are 25 meters away and runners must shoot in the prone and standing positions.
The race begins with participants running a mile before they enter the firing range for their first attempt at the targets. Runners have five shots in the prone position, followed by another mile run. Their second attempt at the targets is made from the standing position, which is then followed by one last mile to the finish line.
Final times are then calculated based upon the runners finishing time and the number of targets hit. Each target hit in the prone position earns runners a 15 second credit toward their final time. Targets hit in the standing position earn 30 seconds off of the final time. Awards are given to the top ten runners in several age categories for both men and women.
Also, honors are given to the top three men and the top three women finishers overall.
The women’s race saw Sonja Hinish of Williamsburg and Stephanie Blackstone of Everett go one-two for the third consecutive year. However, in this year’s race, both of these women were challenged by the strongest women’s field assembled in the six year history of the Altoona Summer Biathlon. The top-five women all finished within 1:48 of Hinish.
Enroute to her fourth consecutive win, Hinish became the second-fastest competitor ever in the 20-29 age group with a final time of 21.01, as she shot 80 percent to outdistance Blackstone by 30 seconds. In finishing second overall for the third straight year, Blackstone broke her own course record for the fastest time recorded with two hits. Her final time was 21.31.
First time participant, Emily Ingle of Warriors Mark, established several standards in her first biathlon. Her raw run time of 22:14 was the fastest ever recorded by a woman on this course. Her adjusted time of 22:14, having hit zero targets, establishes her as the third fastest woman ever in the 14-19 age group, the fifth fastest overall woman ever, and the fastest woman ever with zero hits.
In the men’s race there were also numerous notable performances. Once again, Doug Hoover took first for the men, hitting all 10 targets for the second year in a row. His final adjusted time was 16.40.
Ben Niebel of State College, had his highest finish ever in four attempts as he shot 70 percent and finished second overall with a final time of 17.50. He has now finished in the top-four overall in all four races he has participated in.
Scott Sick of Millville, sealed his third place overall finish by shattering the 40-49 age group record by nearly a minute. Shooting clean, Sick finished with a final time of 18.49.