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TOUGHMAN Triathlon - Interview with Owner & Founder Rich Izzo


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Now in its sixth year, the Toughman Triathlon in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, continues to attract a growing following of participants from around the country. The easy 30 minute commute from New York City has certainly helped grow the event. But like any event, a lot of hard work and attention to detail have made it a success. We recently caught up with the one person who has invested the most time of anyone into making the race a success - Rich Izzo, the owner and founder.

The triathlon event consists of a 1.2mi swim in a protected bay of the Hudson River, a 56mi bike over the rolling hills of Northern Westchester and a 13.1mi run on the old Croton Aquaduct.

Paul: You expanded your Toughman series to a new city. Tell us about it.

Rich: Yes Paul, TOUGHMAN IN on June 1st is a great addition to the TOUGHMAN brand. The race organizer, Steve Tomoboni of America Multisports has been in and around racing for over 20 plus years having run one of the largest half distance triathlons in the Midwest. Having a venue in the Indianapolis area is a great draw.

Paul: What's unique about the course? What will be new for participants this year?

Rich: Our NY venue is far and away one of the most scenic courses in the U.S. The swim is in a protected cove of the Hudson River with no current, and warm and shallow fresh water. The bike course is a 2 loop closed road for the ENTIRE bike course, so this is great for beginners or elites looking to hammer. The run course is again one of the most beautiful you will ever see. There are trail sections, road sections and of magnificent views from running under and over the Croton Dam.

Paul: You made a lot of changes last year to your main race in Croton-on-Hudson. You expanded your kids series and completely changed your bike course. Looking back, what went right? What did you learn?

Rich: Our TOUGHKids series Championship is on Sat Sept 7th and has grown to an expected 900 kids ages 4-14 years old. The kids bike course is now 1 and 2 loops respectively and we will be breaking up the age divisions into 7/8, 9/10, 11/12 and 13/14 to decrease the congestion. The entire race is done within the park so there is no car traffic for the entire race. The race had grown too big for the existing bike course and needed changes to make it safe as well as competitive. This is the series championship of 8 races in 7 states so the kids are traveling for this and it must be well run.

Paul: What are the big changes, if any, you have in store this year?

Rich: The course will not have any major changes this year but you will see over 1,500 volunteers this year at the race. People ask us how we get such a huge amount of volunteers and my reply is because they have a great time helping out. This event is for everyone, volunteers and racers alike. Plus we have tremendous support from the community groups. I guess this comes from our fund raising which topped $320,000 last year for 56 charities -$700,000 to date since race inception. This is raised through the efforts of athletes and volunteers and almost doubles each year. But as far as surprises? Come out and see, we always have something new that you will see race day on the course.

Paul: Here's a broader question. It's no secret that a lot of races have been cancelled this year. What are the qualities of a triathlon that will lead it to prosper in the long run?

Rich: Our focus is safety, community and the athlete experience, in that order. If we continue to provide a safe, great race each year, our TOUGHMAN and TOUGHKids races will continue to grow in popularity over time.

For more information or to register visit www.toughmantri.com