NASA Astronaut Completes First Space Triathlon

By Amir Khan on September 18, 2012 1:02 PM EDT

Space Station
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams has become the first person to complete a triathlon in space, completing the trek onboard the International Space Station this weekend. (Photo: Creative Commons)

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams has become the first person to complete a triathlon in space, completing the trek onboard the International Space Station this weekend. Williams ran, biked and swam  almost 23 miles while 240 miles above the Earth alongside other athletes competing in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Southern California.

"I'm happy to be done," Williams told the Space.com from the International Space Station. "It wasn't easy, and I'm sure everybody in California's very happy to be done too."

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Williams is U.S. commander onboard the ISS, in charge of the 33 crew members. She used exercise equipment onboard the spacecraft to complete the triathlon, including a stationary bike, an orbital treadmill and a resistance machine, which simulated swimming.

"It's critically important to understand human physiology and how to keep you strong on orbit," NASA's flight director told Space.com, who also congratulated Williams on completing the race. Williams finished with a time of one hour, 48 minutes and 23 seconds.

NASA astronauts are required to exercise in order to prevent muscle loss, which would occur quickly in the weightlessness of space.

"A big shout out to our astronaut strength and conditioning folks, who were really interested in this and who got this whole workout together," Williams said. "Thanks everybody for your support and ideas about health and fitness and how important it is for humans and getting us back into long-duration spaceflight."

Williams is no stranger to competing in space. During her last stint on the ISS in 2007, Williams competed in the Boston Marathon on orbital treadmill, finishing in four hours, 23 minutes and 10 seconds.

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