HAINES FALLS, NY (September 25, 2012) -- Just as the colors began to change in the Hudson Valley, HITS Triathlon Series returned to Hunter Mountain for its second mountain-top race of the 2012 season. Kent "Kyle" Damon powered to the first Full distance victory of his career in a time of 11:31:20 and was welcomed to the line by a surprise visit from family members, including brother and popular Hollywood icon Matt Damon.
"At about mile 18, I was running scared from the second place guy and started to fall apart," admitted Damon. "Then I looked up and thought I was hallucinating when I saw my brother Matt standing in the middle of the road in Tannersville waving his arms and screaming at me. I hugged him, kissed my wife and all the weight was lifted from my legs. The last 10k was the most amount of grit and wattage I have ever put out in a race."
Damon, 44, of Cambridge, Massachusetts has been racing triathlons since 2002 and currently swims, bikes and runs as founding member of TEAM.Water.org, which aims for the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water. The team is a nationwide community of roughly 700 endurance athletes whose dedication to sport is coupled with a strong commitment to solving the global water crisis. Members of TEAM.Water.org raise awareness and match their race entry fees with a donation to W! ater.org. Co-founded by Matt Damon, Water.org is a nonprofit organization that works to transform hundreds of communities in underdeveloped countries by providing access to safe water and sanitation.
After sitting Ironman Canada out due to illness, Damon started Googling alternatives and stumbled across HITS. He went out with a bang as his race schedule will now focus mainly on Olympic and Half distance races.
"This was such a life affirming experience," he said. "HITS really wants their athletes to finish and enjoy themselves, which is often lost as the sport grows more towards merchandise and promotion."
HITS Triathlon Series celebrated its return to Hunter Mountain after a successful race weekend there in June. Once again, HITS offered five distances and welcomed athletes from across the Northeast and beyond to North-South Lake State Park for a weekend of swimming, biking and running. 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 Lake for a picturesque open-water swim and the hills of the Catskills for some of the most challenging bike and run courses in the country.
HighTower advisor Jordan Waxman, 47, of Rockleigh, New Jersey participated in the Half distance race over the weekend and ran to a fourth overall finish in a time of 5:24:12. Waxman, an accomplished triathlete and successful financial advisor with the presenting sponsor of HITS Triathlon Series, was introduced into the sport in 1985 after a collegiate swimming career.
"This was great to see. HighTower is so happy to be part of the HITS team," said Waxmann after crossing the finish line. "The course was a challenge, but it's a beautiful time of year to do a race in this part of the country."
According to Waxman, relationships between financial advisory firms and endurance sports organizations just work.
"Not only does HighTower have a history of employing elite or avid athletes, there are so many parallels between the two," he said. "There are plenty of mistakes to be made by not having a plan. Whether it's how to fuel and pace properly during a race, or how to advise wealthy families, endowments, foundations and entertainers -- there are a myriad of things to consider, but if you execute properly both can create great experiences."
Husband-wife duo Jason and Kierann Toth dominated the Half distance race as the first male and female overall. The Rhinebeck, New York couple met while competing on the Stanford University Triathlon Team and have been competing side by side every since. Jason crossed the finish line in 4:46:32, while Kierann posted a time of 5:36:11.
"I left it all out there," said Jason Toth, 34, who is currently an active duty member of the Army, was sixth out of the water and powered to first during the 56-mile bike. "I was ready for the climbing on the second half of the bike and felt really strong, which made for a great final mile."
Kierann Toth is a native of North Dakota and not only picked up a win, but conquered her first-ever race at the Half distance. "I completed all my time goals and loved the course -- I like races that present a lot of obstacles," she said.
Barry Siff of Boulder, Colorado recently joined the HITS team to spearhead a new endurance running series launching in 2013, but was also in Hunter Mountain to get a taste of the HITS Triathlon experience. He competed in the Half distance race and capped the top ten finishers with a time of 5:46:38.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my first HITS triathlon experience -- the course was well marked and extremely challenging," said Siff. "The best part of the weekend was certainly watching the new triathletes during the Open. All ages, all sizes and all types of people getting the enjoyment and exhilaration of doing their first triathlon was certainly a treat. Big kudos to HITS for putting on distances for everyone."
©ESI Photography - Kent "Kyle" Damon crosses the finish line to win HITS Hunter Mountain II this past weekend
©ESI Photography - Kyle Damon's family, including brother Matt greeted him at the finish line
See below for male and female winners from all HITS Triathlon Series -- Hunter Mountain II distances:
Full -- Kent "Kyle" Damon (Cambridge, MA) -- 11:31:20
Half -- Jason Toth (Rhinebeck, NY) -- 4:46:32
Olympic -- Edward O'Malley (New York, NY) -- 2:26:17
Sprint -- Joel Vann (Carlsbad, CA) -- 1:19:05
Open -- Brian Kilmer (Saugerties, NY) -- 22:16
Full -- Deborah Battaglia (Salt Lake City, UT) -- 13:43:31
Half -- Kierann Toth (Rhinebeck) -- 5:36:11
Olympic -- Dot Martin (Montpelier, VT) -- 2:56:53
Sprint -- Kathryn Flodquist (Terryville, CT) -- 1:26:39
Open -- Ilana Numssen (Saugerties, NY) -- 24:43
Click here to view complete results from HITS Triathlon Series -- Hunter Mountain II.
HITS Triathlon Series will soon continue on to Lake Havasu City, Arizona November 10-11 before closing out 2012 at the HITS Championship in Palm Springs, California December 1-2. Qualifying restrictions have been waived for the first annual championship and registration is now open. All upcoming events, however, will present qualifying opportunities across all distances for the HITS Athlete of the Year Awards, which will be announced in Palm Springs. To register for HITS Championship in Palm Springs, California or any other upcoming event, please visit www.HitsTriathlonSeries.com.
About HITS, Inc.
HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing endurance sports events and hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS is dedicated to creating high-quality events in desirable destinations with unmatched, professional operations. For more information about the HITS Triathlon Series, please visit www.HitsTriathlonSeries.com.