Triathletes have their pick of distances at HITS Triathlon Series
Approximately 650 triathletes will run, bike and swim Saturday and Sunday when the HITS Triathlon Series makes its Grand Junction debut.
Five triathlons of varying lengths — full, half, Olympic, sprint and open — will take place at Highline Lake State Park.
The longest two will be featured Saturday: the full triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) and half triathlon (each distance is half of the full triathlon). Each starts at 7 a.m.
It probably will be close to five hours before the first half-triathlon competitors finish, according to HITS Triathlon officials. It probably will be more than 10 hours before anyone completes the full triathlon.
Sunday brings the Olympic (7:40 a.m. start, 1,500-meter swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run), sprint (7 a.m. start, each distance is half of the Olympic) and open (12:30 p.m. start, 100-meter swim, three-mile bike, one-mile run) triathlons.
The half triathlon drew the most registrants with a little more than 250, said Emily Glass, a public-relations specialist for the HITS Triathlon Series, which is based in Saugerties, N.Y., and will host triathlons in 10 U.S. cities this year.
The Olympic and sprint races each drew about 150 registrants, 55 triathletes registered for the full triathlon, and about 50 signed up for the open.
Race director Mark Wilson said the turnout for the first year exceeded expectations.
“Any time you’re in a new place, you hope to get 300 (triathletes),” Wilson said, adding HITS triathlon participation grows in succeeding years. “Next year we expect to be over 1,000 (competitors in Grand Junction).”
Glass said HITS is excited about being in Grand Junction, and the response from the community appears to be the same.
“We like to be in places that want us there,” Glass said. “I think both parties saw the benefit.”
And if competitors enjoy their experience at a venue, the triathlon will naturally grow, she said.
“When there’s a great race, they spread the word,” she said.
If the preparation is any indication, it should be a good weekend of triathlons, Wilson said.
“It’s going very, very smooth,” he said. “I can’ say enough about Highline Lake State Park and (park manager) Alan Martinez and his staff.”