Written by: Jay Prasuhn
Heather and Todd Gollnick make their race directorial debut with Sunday’s Revolution3 Triathlon. Rev3 aims to deliver a first-class experience with a $100,000 pro prize purse and an exceptional, family-oriented race experience for pros and age groupers alike.
It’s a classic case of if I ruled the world: What would you do if you were to create your own race? What would you change? Do away with? Make better? Pro triathlete Heather Gollnick and husband Todd Gollnick have created their own dream race.
Of course, it comes with its trials and tribulations. Especially with the week Heather Gollnick has had; she raced Ironman Brazil this past weekend (taking third), flew straight from Florianapolis, Brazil to Hartford, Conn., and has been running logistics with her husband and her team, getting set to debut one of the most hotly-anticipated races of the year. “I’ve not slept since,” she said. “I guess I’ll get my sleep at the end of the day Sunday!”
Sunday marks the inaugural Rev3 Triathlon, a half Ironman-distance race that will take place in Middlebury, Conn. at Quassy Amusement Park. While races come and go, this is one that seems destined for success. While the Ironman machine continues to roll on the strength of its name, the upstart Rev3 event chooses to do all the little things, making attentive detail their signature.
“I’ve been supporting a family of five on triathlon, and it’s a lot of work,” Gollnick says. “Triathletes don’t get treated like golf or tennis stars, but I really want the pros who do our race to get a bit of that experience, and the age groupers to feel like we care about what we put out for them.”
It all starts at the top with the pros. While many races see paltry purses, Gollnick kicks off the race with a $100,000 prize purse. Pros have been greeted at the airport with pickup and shuttle to their homestays and are allotted free massages. Race day will see a pro bike pen flanked by pro athlete posters, with their race numbers along with their image. The pros will even have their own porta-potty.
It’s all enough to draw one of the deepest fields of the year, blending top talent from Ironman and short-course racing. The men’s field includes recent Wildflower podium finisher Jordan Rapp and fellow American bike power David Thompson. Aussies Luke Bell, Richie Cunningham and Simon Thompson, reigning ITU duathlon world champion Paul Amey and up-and-coming Aussies Joe Gambles and Leon Griffin are also on the start list. Long-course specialists including Michael Lovato, Alex McDonald, Tim Berkel, Torbjorn Sindballe and Jonas Colting. Also look for short course gunners including Ironman 70.3 California champ Matt Reed and fellow American Tim O’Donnell.
The women’s field is equally stunning. Reigning Ironman 70.3 world champion Joanna Zeiger heads the list, and will face challenge from former 70.3 world champ Mirinda Carfrae from Australia, recent Ironman 70.3 Florida champ Leanda Cave of Great Britain and multi-time Hawaii Ironman World Champ Natascha Badmann of Switzerland (who, with a resounding victory at the recent Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, has proven she is fully recovered from her bike crash at the Hawaii Ironman two years ago). Other top names include Aussie Belinda Granger, Americans Desiree Ficker, Caitlin Snow, Bree Wee and Rebeccah Wassner, New Zealander Jo Lawn and Canadian Lisa Bentley.
Luke Bell, who arrived in Middlebury Thursday, said he has been impressed with the level of care the event has put forth, even before the gun has gone off. “Heather’s an athlete, so she knows what an athlete wants,” Bell said. “You come up here and get the best treatment from the moment you step off the plane to when you cross the finish line and get back on the plane. It’s fantastic, from the prize purse to the dialogue—even when she had her own race going on. She’s raising the bar to another level. It’s a new series and new competition for the M-Dot series out there.”
Age groupers will be feted as well; registered athletes will receive a t-shirt upon registration, as well as a separate finishers t-shirt. Further, age groupers are eligible to take home their part of $25,000 in prizes from sponsors including K-Swiss, Trakkers and All3Sports.
“It’s really the little things that the athletes appreciate, because it’s really about them,” Gollnick said. “I just had an athlete tell me she had learned her mother had cancer, and asked for a refund, and I said ‘of course.’ She was surprised I wasn’t requiring some sort of proof, or trying to cut the refund short. We want this to be a family event, and this is what makes people feel like they’re part of a family.”
The race also retains The V Foundation for Cancer Research as the event’s official charity, with $10 of every race entry going to the foundation. Promoted by college basketball game announcer Dick Vitale (in honor of cancer victim and former North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano), the Gollnicks choice for the benefit was an easy one. “Dick literally lives around the corner from us,” Gollnick says. “He’s a great guy and really, it’s a great fit.”
With Sunday coming soon, the frenzied race organizers are excited to see their project come to life. “It’s been our life the last 15 years,” Gollnick said. “Fortunately, we have a ton of great folks involved as well. I’m excited. Every time I go to a race, I look at it as an athlete and a marketing director, and my husband looks at it as a race director. We’re hoping it goes smooth and everyone has a great experience.”
This weekend, the Gollnicks will announce the expansion of the race into a series, with news of a 2010 Ironman- and half Ironman-distance Rev3 event taking place at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio on next year’s docket. Dates will be forthcoming as the news is released.