Meet: Dan Hedgecock

Two of the fastest young triathletes in the state, Sam Janicki and Dan Hedgecock, duel it out late in the run at the Manitou Triathlon

We have a mid-season addition to our Development team, and as Kevin has stated, “He can go as far as he wants to in triathlon”.     The 23 year old Dan Hedgecock hit the competitive Minnesota triathlon scene and has been turning some heads with his lightning fast run splits.    When looking at his  bike splits from the Gear West Duathlon and Buffalo Triathlon, they seemed ‘just OK’… until you take into consideration that he had done that on a road bike without aero bars!    Not to mention that his 4th place overall at the Buffalo triathlon was his first open water swim!   The week before the Manitou Triathlon, Dan stopped into Gear West and picked up a Felt B2 Pro and proceeded to get 4th place overall at Manitou in one of the most competitive fields Minnesota offers. Not only was his bike split greatly improved, but he dropped a course record run of 15:12 (4:54 mile pace) over the 3 mile course.     A guy this fast needs to be racing for Gear West Bike and Tri! 🙂

Dan graciously granted me a full access interview for the blog.

CW: Dan, where are you originally from and what brought you to Minnesota?

DH: I  was born in Colorado, but grew up mainly in Missouri. I went to high school in St. Louis and then double majored in English and Philosophy at The University of Missouri. I moved to Minneapolis last August to work as a Business Analyst at Target.

CW: Tell me a little bit about your athletic background?

DH: I started running track and cross country during high school and then ran at Mizzou for 4 years. I’ve always loved track and cross country, each sport has their own unique qualities that I’ll miss.

CW: What was your first triathlon, and why did you start?

DH: I did a triathlon for fun once during high school with my family, it was called the Babler Beast. I barely knew how to swim(luckily it was a pool swim) and the bike course was two loops that I did on my mountain bike.

The first triathlon I trained for and raced was at Buffalo this June. After finishing school I didn’t really want to run anymore and didn’t do anything for a few months. After a while though, I realized that I love training and racing more than just about anything, and decided to try triathlons.

CW: Do you have a coach?   IF you don’t mind telling, give me an idea of a typical week of training?

DH: Of course I don’t mind! I don’t have a coach, and right now I’m making up a lot of my training as I go along, which I’m actually enjoying a lot. I took about 7 months off after last year’s track season to do nothing, so most of my focus has been on rebuilding base fitness but I’ve had a couple faster workouts at this point. In a typical week my training revolves around work, so I usually wake up at 5 every day Mon – Fri to either run or do core strength/light stretching if I’m feeling too tired to run. I do a master’s swim on Tues/Thur evenings and try to swim at lunch M/W/F because swimming is a big focus for me now. I also try to fit in a ride on M/W/F evening if the weather is nice enough (I’m still a pretty big fair-weather wuss when it comes to biking).

Recently I’ve been using the weekends to do a long bike/run brick on one day and swim/bike brick on another.

CW: What racing are you planning on for the rest of the summer and fall?

DH: I’m racing at the Lifetime Triathlon and the Heart of the Lakes Triathlon in July. I haven’t officially signed up yet for any others, but I’d like to race at least once more in August(probably Turtleman) and am thinking about age group nationals in September.

We totally stole this picture from the Mizzou athletic website, but he still looks basically the same. He's also as nice as the picture indicates.

CW: What made you decide to race for Gear West Bike and Tri (other than us asking you:)

DH: The big draw for me was the culture that the team is committed to. The track program at Mizzou emphasizes values and personal integrity even more than athletic success, which is something that can unfortunately be rare in sports today. I saw the same commitment to excellent sportsmanship and to developing the entire community of triathlon in the Gear West team. Everyone loves to race fast, but I think we all enjoy the camaraderie of a great race event even more.

CW: OK, so after a little google research I found your 5k PR at 14:09.  Bonus points if you can guess 2 current Minnesota triathletes with faster 5K PRs.

DH: Can I have three guesses? Tony Schiller, Rich Heilman and David Thompson.

CW: Wrong on all 3!  The correct answer is Sean Mulheron (former Iowa State University runner and holder of a 14:03 5K), and Mike Torchia (current U of M track runner and tri-team member and holder of a 14:06 Indoor 5K!)

CW: It seems that we have so few D1 athletes come straight out of college and start in triathlon.  Why do you think that is?

DH: I think that relatively few D1 athletes transition straight into triathlon immediately after college because the lifestyle both before and after is consuming. During college, most athletes think about their sport all the time and everyone dreams of going pro. But, after 4 or 8 or often times more than 10 years of committing everything you do to a sport a lot of people finish college either burnt out on racing or are close enough to the professional level that they stay within their sport.
Anyone that does want to transition has to learn two new sports and how to balance all three, often on top of starting a career. So I think it can be a tough transition that depends quite a bit on individual circumstances.

Thanks for the interview Dan, and welcome to the team!

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