Grand Junction, Colo. — HITS Triathlon Series set roots in Colorado this weekend with two days of racing at Highline Lake State Park in Grand Junction and saw some iconic athletes cross the line. Tim Hola, 39, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado powered to a 4:17:13 Half-distance victory with 43-year-old Heather Gollnick of Steamboat Springs, Colorado leading the women in 4:54:28.
Acclaimed as one of the sport’s most accomplished age-group athletes and Team Timex member, Hola says that he wants to be a part of anything that is good for the sport of triathlon. “These grassroots events make for a healthier sport and I love to be able to race in new places,” he added.
Born into the sport in the 1980s, Hola has raced the World Championships in Hawaii 13 times. “It’s not something that a lot of people can say they have accomplished, so to be lucky enough and healthy enough to do that is my proudest accomplishment,” he said. “I can only hope that I can stay driven enough in my head to want to continue racing year after year.”
Triathlon is still a family affair for Hola – his wife Nicole raced the HITS Olympic alongside his father Ken, now 70 years old. According to his two six-year-old boys, they will be triathletes too someday.
“I love this model,” said Hola of HITS’ “a distance for everyone”™ approach to the sport of triathlon. “It affords so many people the opportunity to be triathletes.”
After a seven-month injury hiatus, Gollnick was back with her game face on this weekend. A five-time World Champion, she is currently training with a team of four women with hopes of setting a record at next month’s Race Across America (RAAM) event.
“When events are this well-run and well-supported, it’s hard not to have a good day,” she said. “The bike was a high point for me – climbing out against the wind and then getting to turn around and just fly.”
From course layout to available parking, HITS Race Director Mark H. Wilson admits that HITS Triathlon Series may have found a home in Colorado at Highline Lake State Park. “We have been looking for the right place for some time and we think we found it this weekend,” he said. “The Colorado community is so supportive of what we strive to accomplish and, based on the athlete feedback, there are so many opportunities for this event to grow.”
HITS Triathlon Series, which boasts an “a distance for everyone!”™ mantra, offered five distances in Grand Junction. The event continued to grow the sport of triathlon as new triathletes were born from the HITS Open – a 100 meter swim, 3 mile bike and 1 mile run. Seasoned athletes, however, were welcomed to a calm-water swim at Highline Lake, and bike and run courses at the foot of the Colorado mountains for the Sprint, Olympic, Half and Full distance events.
Full – Macario Avalos (San Diego, California) – 10:19:02
Half – Tim Hola (Highlands Ranch, Colorado) – 4:17:13
Olympic – Kenny Withrow (Broomfield, Colorado) – 2:14:46
Sprint – Mike Lyle (Carlsbad, California) – 1:13:19
Open – Ben Smith (New Castle, Colorado) – 16:04
Full – Mary Gonzales (Grand Junction, Colorado) – 13:18:30
Half – Heather Gollnick (Steamboat Springs, Colorado) – 4:54:28
Olympic – Darlene Krohn (Flagstaff, Arizona) – 2:28:13
Sprint – Holle Nichols – (Littleton, Colorado) – 1:20:42
Open – Kim Sandbach – (Woody Creek, Colorado) – 16:12