Checking the HITS race results today it is hard not to be struck by the fact that only 17 triathletes completed the Iron Distance race this weekend in Naples, Florida.
The Naples race was the second in the nation race series of triathlons that consists of a total of 12 races being put on by the new HITS race series, which culminates in a series Championship in Palm Springs at the end of the year.
The first race, which was held last month in Palm Springs, and had a total of 21 finishers at the Iron Distance according the the race results.
What makes the HITS series of races unique is that over the course of the weekend, the race organizers put on 5 races with a Family, Sprint, and Olympic race held on Saturday while the Half Iron and Full Iron Distance race is held on Sunday.
And just in case you are wondering, several hundred triathletes raced in Naples this weekend over the course of all five races.
We had a chance to talk with Tom Struzzieri (the CEO and President of the Hits Triathlon Series) last year as part of our endurance podcast (HERE). Struzzieri told us that he wanted to use his expertise in putting on a national series of highly successful equestrian events, and bring the same business model of success to triathlon with his team of event organizers.
Just like his HITS horse events, the HITS triathlon series has a caravan of trucks that set-up races around the country (one per month). Think of it as a sort of traveling circus of triathlon events that goes from one town to another each month putting on 5 different races at 5 different race distances in one location.
When we spoke to Struzzieri he told us his strategy for success was not to focus on the professional triathletes, but instead put on a family-friendly race for all ages, and all distances in vacation destination spots. In other words, he had very little interest in getting professional triathletes to compete in his races.
He told us that in these difficult economic times, HITS is offering a family and budget-friendly alternative to Ironman racing.
While it is certainly too early in the year to call this race series a success or failure, we cannot help but wonder if the World Triathlon Corporation is threatened by an Iron Distance race that has 17 finishers. Especially when even new Ironman WTC branded races (Like THIS new IM in New York) sell out to thousands of competitors at a much higher cost in just minutes.
What do you think?
Would you prefer to race an Ironman race or does the HITS series appeal to you? Would you rather spend less on a new race, or do you value the complete Ironman experience more?
Please let us know in the comments below.