The heat was on Damian Hill in New Orleans.
Rather than melting, however, the fourth-year pro from Alaska glistened in the glory of his first top-10 finish in this season’s grueling international 5150 series.
The 29-year-old former commercial fisherman from Naknek shined in the southern sun, starting with a 1.5-kilometer swim.
“At the start, I started swimming to a different buoy than the others, making the decision to turn and follow everyone else landed me at the back of the pack – heavy philosophical statement,” he told me.
“For the first time I was able to swim through people and ended up exiting the water in seventh. Upon further swim course review, I should have stuck with my original plan.
“Everyone decided to swim around the sprint distance buoy before heading to the Olympic distance buoys, and times were 60 to 90 seconds slower across the board.”
Out of the water, Hill transitioned into the 40-K biking portion.
“At the beginning of the bike I dropped my water bottle and wasn’t able to take in any water in the 90- degree weather,” he said. “A half hour in to an hour bike ride, my visualization was how good some ice and cold water will feel at the first aid station on the run.
“When I got there it was warm water and a dry sponge.”
The 10-K run got better, though.
“I started visualizing how an authority figure told the volunteer to hand out sponges and he did his job well. Someone forgot to tell him to put them in ice water first,” Hill said. “This was cleared up by the second lap, it felt really good, and I was able to negative split the run for ninth place overall.”
The 5150 series is the largest international distance triathlon series in the world and offers pro triathletes the opportunity to compete for $1 million in prize money.
In May, Hill finished 11th at the Kansas City 5150 and in early June he was 14th at the Boise 5150.
Next stop New York City.