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The Scoop on HITS Triathlon from Race Director Mark Wilson


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The HITS Triathlon Series which launched with one race in 2011 and continued with a full year of events in 2012 is now half way through its second full year of triathlon events across the United States. In 2012 the series consisted of 10 triathlon events in 6 states (FL, TX, CA, CO, NY, CA). A year later the series is gaining in popularity.

So far 5 triathlon events have taken place with 4 more still on the 2013 schedule, including the HITS Championship in Palm Springs, CA in December. Not much has changed, as several of events are or have taken place in previous event locations. New venues this year include last months inaugural event in Grand Junctions, CO and the upcoming event in Hauge, NY which stemmed from the purchase of the North Country Triathlon last year.

Founders Tom Struzzieri and Mark Wilson publicized the launch as the first race series to feature five distances at each event, with events taking place at unique destinations across the US. The series it truly unique as it caters to everyone from beginners to experienced triathletes with its offering of 5 events over the course of one weekend, from the Open event created especially for first timers who never thought that competing in a triathlon to the standard Sprint, Olympic, Half and Full distance events. Even the kids can come out and participate.

It has attracted inquiries from various professional triathletes as well as had several of them come out and race, including Dirk Bockel, Paul Amey and Heather Gollnick.

So how is the series doing today, after its inaugural year? Well, we caught up with Mark Wilson, the race director to see how things are going; this is what he had to say:

We are half way into 2013 and the second HITS Triathlon Series season of race, how are things going so far?

Fantastic! I couldn't be happier with the support and the overall growth we have experienced in the past year and a half. Our numbers continue to grow, our national sponsors have expanded to include the likes of TYR and Rudy Project, and the communities we visit have been more supportive than ever.

Now that people are more aware of the HITS brand, are you seeing more athletes come out to race?

Yes. For each of the venues we returned to in 2013, we saw registration numbers increase 30%. HITS Napa Valley saw the numbers jump 100% in participation from 2012 with 1,600 total registered athletes.

mark wilson hits tri swim

Are you seeing more athletes registering early due to the new Pricing Structure you implemented last year?

Definitely! The pricing for each event is competitive and actually unheard of in the early months. As a result, athletes are registering much earlier than we saw during our first year. Each time we approach a price increase deadline we see a significant jump in registrations, especially in the longer distance events. Aside from encouraging athletes to sign up early, the pricing structure has provided more people the opportunity to experience the longer distances at an affordable price.

Last year forest fires affected your inaugural event in Fort Collins, Colorado, forcing you to move the event to Sterling, CO a month before the race. In May of this year you had the inaugural HITS Triathlon event in Grand Junction, CO. Tell us about your new venue in Highline Lake State Park. What kind of response did your get from athletes who raced there?

Highline Lake State Park proved to be a spectacular venue! It was great to see how receptive athletes were to a course that truly showcases the scenic beauty of Colorado. The swim was calm and clean, the run was flat and weaved throughout the countryside, but the highlight was the bike. The mix of climbing and descending through quiet, gorgeous roads resonated well with the participants and left many saying they would be back next year. With such a great response from athletes and the local community alike, I have no doubt that we'll double the numbers for 2014.

It didn't hurt to have some pretty big names in the sport race with us either. Heather Gollnick and Tim Hola both took home some hardware that weekend!

Coming up you have a new triathlon event in Hague, New York that stems from the purchase last year of the existing North Country Triathlon. The original event hosted Sprint and Olympic distance races and will now offer the HITS Triathlon Series standard five distances. What can athletes expect from HITS Triathlon this year?

This event is tucked away in the rugged Adirondack Mountains, making it a perfect location for all Tri-State Area athletes. The breathtaking mountain-top course will begin in the quaint town of Hague and encompass several local communities.

We have doubled the participation numbers from years past, so the sheer volume HITS is bringing to the region will make for an exciting weekend of racing for athletes, spectators and local businesses.

We are very eager to deliver another Full distance race to Upstate New York.

Tell us a little more about the Diamond Mills Tri-Camps you are hosting this year, in Saugerties, NY?

Throughout the year HITS Triathlon Series hosts a number of weeklong triathlon training camps at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern. Diamond Mills is the Hudson Valley's premier getaway destination and its central location allows camp participants to train with me in the heart of the majestic Catskill Mountains, including sections of the HITS Hunter Mountain Race Course. The weeklong camp includes luxuriously appointed accommodations at Diamond Mills, two daily gourmet meals prepared by Executive Chef Giuseppe Napoli and a personalized training schedule set toward your personal goals.

Are you seeing triathletes race multiple in HITS Triathlon Series races like James Lawrence and Deborah Battaglia did last year?

Absolutely. Several athletes race with us from venue to venue simple because they love our events and want to see it succeed.

Out of the five standard distances you offer at all of your HITS Triathlon Series events, what distance would you say it the most popular in general? Does it vary across all the venues you have?

It's a toss-up between the Olympic and Half distances. On average we are seeing 200-300 athletes in these events at any given race; however there is slight variation between locations. For example, this year in Napa Valley, both the Sprint and Olympic distances sold out at 500 pre-registered athletes each, months before the event. Over the past year and a half we have seen significant growth in the Full as well, however we are targeting these athletes more directly with hopes to grow these participate levels in the years to come.

What can we look forward to for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

Right now we are focusing on expanding our race calendar for 2014 with hopes to visit new regions of the country. Also featuring its signature "a distance for everyone" mantra, HITS Running Festivals has solidified a number of events for 2013 and 2014 including events in Omaha, Nebraska, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and most recently, Tucson, Arizona.
 
 
On a side note, I had the opportunity to participate in the HITS Triathlon Championship event last year in Palm Springs. I was pleasantly surprised, Unlike a majority of the events out there, what also makes the HITS Triathlon Series events unique is the transition area setup they have.

hits transition area

To learn more about the HITS Triathlon Series, visit www.hitstriathlonseries.com. Don't forget, HITS Triathlon has great early bird registration pricing offers, the earlier you register the less the registration fee is.
 
 
Related Posts:
Interview with Mark Wilson from HITS Triathlon Series
HITS Announces New Pricing Structure for All Distances
New HITS Triathlon Series Launched in the USA!