Two years ago a friend of mine, Mosi Smith, introduced me to his friend, a fellow member of the United States Armed Forces who was also running at the Carlsbad Marathon where I was pacing. Since that time, Robert Hillery and I have met on numerous occasions at races across the country. I found out early this past year that Rob would be trying something that is on my absolute to-do list- Ultraman.
What is Ultraman? It is a three-day, 320-mile stage race held in Canada with the same race’s world Championship being held in Hawaii. The first day consists of a 6.2-mile swim, followed by a 90-mile cross-country bike ride. Stage two is a 171.4-mile bike ride. Stage three is a 52.4-mile double-marathon run. Each stage must be completed within 12 hours. Participants who do not reach the finish lines within the time limits are disqualified. Ouch. All around.
So when Rob not only completed Ultraman Canada and then ran the world championships in Hawaii, I decided it was time to sit down and give him an interview.
Dane Rauschenberg: When did you begin running?
Rob Hillery: High school initially, but I only did enough for basic fitness and to get into the Naval Academy. Even at the academy, I only ran just enough to keep the weight down, pass the Physical Readiness Test, and not be too slow for group runs. I was naturally okay at it, not talented by any means at all. My sport in school was power lifting, which was all I loved to do. It is ironic that I am in the sport I am given my history in that sport.
DR: Were you an athlete growing up?
RH: I played soccer and baseball in little league as a kid, then wrestled, played golf, and started power lifting in high school. I was best at power lifting out of everything, which is why I chose to pursue that sport into college.
DR: When did you start triathlons?
RH: My first triathlon was the Camp Pendleton Sprint Triathlon in 2008. Mosi Smith (our mutual friend) had been talking to me about trying them for about a year, and after he bugged me enough, I finally broke down and bought a bike in June of 08, then did that race in August. I had done a few running races up to that point in my life (three marathons I think), but that was it. Little did I know how much I would fall in love with the [triathlon].