When first I heard about the HITS Austin Multi-Sport Festival out there at the Circuit of the Americas, my initial thought was something along the lines of Well, yeah, the high intensity training people are trying to get a piece of the endurance pie. But then it became clear that I was pretty way off base, so I had to do some digging. Thankfully, there’s Google, and I came up with some answers that created even more questions. So I had to make a phone call to find out what’s what.
HITS Austin is a full day (seriously!) of running and multi-sport races designed and developed for the whole family—A Distance for Everyone. Running events range from a Friends and Family one mile to a marathon and, not to limit things just to bipeds, they’ve got a sprint duathlon on the program as well.
That’s the only real marketing-speak I’m going to allow myself, because, well, this is a public venue and my mother raised me right. So here’s why I think that the HITS event is going to be good stuff.
The background: HITS is a horse show production company. Yeah, horses. I know, I thought so, too. Show jumping and all that stuff. So, wait, are there going to be horses at the Circuit of the Americas? No, but the guy who started it all, Tom Struzzieri, is also really into triathlon, and he teamed up with his coach, Mark H. Wilson, and from that partnership, HITS Multi-Sport was born. So, yeah, no horses, but lots of running. And a bit of cycling.
Mark told us that Tom wanted to create an event that could include everyone in the family, so that’s where you get all the distances packed into one day—mile, 5K, 10K, half and full marathons and then the duathlon. That’s a lot of running for one day, so obviously they’d need a setting that would be appropriate for something so large scale. Which is why they picked Austin, and why they picked Circuit of the Americas.
HITS is nationwide—there are 12 other cities hosting similar events—and Austin loves it’s running and triathlon, so that would seem to be a given. Austin loves events too, big and Texas-sized. Add those two together and you’ve pretty much got Austin’s idea of a day. Oh, and then there’s the COTA, which is, really, about the only place you could hold a day-long event like this without completely tying up traffic for a full day. But, really, what better place to have it—it’s an international race track!
There are a bazillion new national events popping up almost weekly it seems. Half- and full-marathons and triathlons of every kind are fairly well imbedded in our calendars; obstacle course events are now almost ubiquitous; and then there is the new trend of the, I don’t want to sound snarky, but, these new “color” runs, or “glow” runs or “laser” runs—what are those? They’re everywhere. What makes HITS different?
The intent is, according to Emily Glass, who is the PR go-to at HITS, to grow the sports of running and triathlon with nationwide events that are, first and foremost, very family friendly. I took, too, from our conversation that after years of putting on the events all over the globe, HITS has a production value that is above all others and that pretty much runs like a clock. The same people who help to set up and run each event are the same people who answer the phones when you call in with questions. Kinda like back in the day when you’d sign up for a local old school 5K and ask if you could pay with a check, and then when you won third place in your age group you got a basket of scones made by the race director’s mother or something. Except on a much larger scale and I doubt there are scones. Scones are sort of horsey, anyway, aren’t they? Maybe next year.
So you can have your youngest do the mile, dad would do the 5K, because of middle-aged dad syndrome thing—you know what I’m talking about—big brother or sister knock out the 10K, and then Super Mom is in for the half or full, because anything less for her is a warmup. And it won’t cost you a paycheck, because the pricing is pretty agreeable ($30 for the 10K, at least up until the week of the event), especially in this day of through-the-roof race entry fees. And you’re at the Circuit of the Americas, which makes everything even better, and there won’t be any paint or lasers to get in the way.