Conditions were taxing and victories were sweeter than usual at this weekend's HITS Triathlon Series event in Sterling, Colorado. After battling heat, wind and even a period of hail, Jason Smith of Denver, Colorado claimed a victory in the Full distance and Deborah Battaglia of Salt Lake City, Utah collected her eighth consecutive HITS Full distance win. Derek Yorek and Nicole Callan win the Half distance race.
The eighth race in the new series, HITS Triathlon Series offered five distances in Sterling, Colorado and welcomed over 400 athletes to North Sterling State Park for a weekend of racing. The event continued to grow the sport of triathlon as new triathletes were born from the HITS Open. Seasoned athletes, however, were welcomed to the shores of the North Sterling Reservoir for a warm open-water swim and the hills of Northeastern Colorado for a rolling bike course and challenging run course.
"It was harder than I thought, but I prefer a challenge," said Nicole Callan of Fort Collins, Colorado who was the first overall female in the Half distance race. "You never expect a win, but you hope. This was great preparation for Kona, which is what I am focused on now."
Alongside Callan was her coach, Diana Hassel of Fort Collins, Colorado who also appreciated the difficulty of the course.
"It was harder than I expected, but I like to race on the hardest courses I can find," she said.
James Lawrence of Lindon, Utah finished in second place. This was his 8th Full / Iron distance triathlon in 8 weeks, which included several races in Europe. He is using Sterling as one of the stops on his 2012 World Record attempt of 30 Full / Iron distance triathlons in 1 year.
2012 HITS Sterling Triathlon Results:
Sterling, Colorado - July 28-29, 2012
|Full Male Results||Time||
|Full Female Results||Time|
|Half Male Results||Half Female Results|
|Olympic Male Results||Olympic Female Results|
|Sprint Male Winner||Sprint Female Winner|
On Saturday, Ryan Koss of Kula, Hawaii was the first to cross under the finishing arch to win the Sprint distance race. The 17-year-old triathlete was inspired to start racing after watching the Honolulu National Triathlon as a spectator in 2007.
"I raced for the first time in 2008 and got destroyed," he admitted. "But I came back to win that same race twice in a row the next two years."
Koss admits that he made the trip from Hawaii to Colorado because he was looking for something different. He is currently in training for the USAT National Championships in Burlington, Vermont and added HITS, which is now approaching the end of its first year of producing national races, to his late summer race schedule.
"I am so used to swimming in the ocean that this swim felt like a pool," added Koss who led the Sprint distance race from start to finish. "I was expecting to be caught on the bike and the run, but I was having a really good day and was actually able to pull away."
The result of a necessary venue change, HITS only announced the race in Sterling, CO in early June, but was overwhelmed with local support.
"Volunteers literally are the backbone of every event - we wouldn't be able to do what we do without people who are willing to come out and support these athletes," said Mark H. Wilson, race director for HITS Triathlon Series. "The people of Sterling worked tirelessly to support us and the sport of triathlon, and it certainly did not go unnoticed."
Support from the community and an overwhelming volunteer presence from local clubs and organizations, most notably the Sterling Lions Club, was unwavering. While HITS Triathlon Series appreciated the support, no one loves the sight of a volunteer more than the athletes. Swimming, biking and running through heat into the 100s and an unexpected storm, the bike and run courses at every distance were well stocked with eager volunteers.
"I have never done a race with this much support," said elite athlete and overall winner of the Half distance race, Derek Yorek.
Click here to view complete results from HITS Triathlon Series - Sterling.
Source: HITS Triathlon
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