Hill making a living on pro tour (Triathlon)

July 9, 2011
Damian Hill

He used to want to go to the Olympics, but now Damian Hill wants to get paid.

A former commercial fisherman out of the tiny Bristol Bay Borough village of Naknek, the 28-year-old is going for broke in the world of professional triathlon. The 6-foot-2, 165-pounder turned pro two years ago after a successful amateur career.

He bounces between Alaska and Portland, Ore., where he trains with his pro team Athletes Lounge.

“I could stick around and be a big fish in a small pond and win all these races, but that’s now what I’m after,” he told me. “I want to be in the biggest and baddest races, and win those.”

Right now his focus is on the Rev 3 Series pro tour, which included stops in Costa Rica, Connecticut and Portland. In February he finished ninth in the series opener in Costa Rica.

In June he placed 18th in a field of 40 men in Middlebury, Conn., where he covered the 1.3-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run in 4 hours, 20 minutes. The race carried a $150,000 purse for the top 10, with $20,000 going to the winner.

“When you fly across country and don’t get a payday, it can hurt,” Hill said, “but that’s how it goes.”

The Rev 3 Series finale is tomorrow in Portland. Then his focus shifts to the Tri-California Series.

Becoming a professional in any sport is a major accomplishment, but sticking around is the hard part.

The triathlon circuit is no different. The pro field is loaded with Olympics, Ironman winners and world champions.

Hill has his work cut out for him. That’s why he is training up to 30 hours a week.

“It’s about getting in the mileage and getting in the years in your legs, and I’m finally feeling like the work that I’m putting in I’m able to train at the highest level,” he said. “Now it’s just like adapting your body to being this endurance beast, basically.”