NAPLES, FL (January 15, 2013) -- Dirk Bockel of Luxembourg powered to a victory in the HITS Half in Naples, FL on Saturday as the national race series made its second appearance in Southwest Florida since its inception in 2011. With four top-ten finishes at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, HI and an appearance in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing under his belt, Bockel is ranked third in the world this year and posted a final time of 3:50:40 in Naples this weekend.
"Today was a great tune-up and I had a lot of fun out there," said the 36-year-old professional triathlete who lives and trains in St. Augustine, FL. "The swim, bike and run went as planned. I hit all my numbers on the bike, pushed it a little during the first part of the run and then just brought it home during the last 10 kilometers."
Bockel was born and raised in Germany and has been racing as a professional for 24 years after breaking into the sport of triathlon from a running background.
"This was my first time racing with HITS and I hope it’s not my last," he said. "This series is going to be a major competitor -- it’s a great system that brings triathlon to the people and welcomes a mix of both professionals and beginners. That’s pretty unique and something that we should build on."
Continuing its "a distance for everyone!"(TM) mantra, HITS Triathlon Series offered five distances in Naples and welcomed over 900 athletes from across the East Coast and beyond to 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 -- a 100 meter swim, 3 mile bike and 1 mile run. Seasoned athletes, however, were welcomed to a picture-perfect ocean-water swim and flat, fast bike and run courses during the Sprint, Olympic, Half and Full distance events.
Flint Brady, 40, of Crescent City, FL and Elizabeth Hadfield, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, FL rose to the top of Saturday’s Full distance race and crossed the line after 140.6 miles in 9:34:28 and 11:38:54, respectively.
Hadfield, a New Zealand native started racing triathlons a year and a half ago and claims that the sport is now her oxygen.
"This was nothing short of extraordinary. Sometimes in life the magic happens and the magic happened for me -- I felt like I was on jet fuel all day," said Hadfield, "Racing with HITS made me feel like an individual rather than a number and that is very special."
Full distance athletes were joined on course by HITS president and CEO Tom Struzzieri, who conquered his first Full distance race this weekend.
"Not only has it been a personal goal of mine, but I wanted to experience what the HITS athletes experience," said Struzzieri. "I needed to see my own product in action in order to make it the best that it can be."
HITS Triathlon Series worked closely with the Collier Country Sheriff’s Department on traffic control and maintaining the safety of athletes and spectators alike on race day.
"The local authorities have been a pleasure to work with," said Mark H. Wilson, HITS Triathlon Series race director. "Between the tireless efforts of our staff and the willingness of the sheriff’s department to support us, I am already excited for next year’s event."
See below for male and female winners from all the HITS Naples distances:
Full -- Flint Brady (Crescent City, FL) -- 9:34:28
Half -- Dirk Bockel (St. Augustine, FL) -- 3:50:40
Olympic -- Alexander Schilling (Fort Myers, FL) -- 1:55:23
Sprint -- Mark Brown (Ames, IA) -- 1:04:47
Open -- Jaelin Funk (Celebration, FL) -- 18:40
Full -- Elizabeth Hadfield (Fort Lauderdale, FL) -- 11:38:54
Half -- Marie Repec (Scottsdale, AZ) -- 4:24:42
Olympic -- Kelly Kingma (Williamsburg, VA) -- 2:16:46
Sprint -- Carly Howell (Boca Raton, FL) -- 1:14:25
Open -- Ashley Leitner (Ames, IA) -- 22:55
Click here to view complete results from HITS Naples.
The 2013 HITS Triathlon Series schedule continues in Mar. 23-24 with a weekend of racing in Ocala, Florida. The complete 2013 schedule is finalized and registration for all races is available at www.HtisTriathlonSeries.com. Due to the popular 2013 HITS pricing structure, it is expected that several of the five offered distances will sell out before each race day. As an incentive for early registration, all athletes who complete their registration more than four month out will receive 75% off the regular registration fee.
All upcoming events will offer qualifying opportunities for both HITS Athlete of the Year Awards and the HITS Championship in Palm Springs, CA Dec. 7-8, 2013. Registration for the HITS Championship is open to the first 500 athletes in each distance. Once 500 register, qualifying will be required. To register for HITS Ocala, the HITS Championship or any other upcoming event, please visit www.HitsTriathlonSeries.com..
Photo by AL Larson Photography - Dirk Bockel celebrates his 70.3 win at HITS Naples this weekend
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.