Wolf Hillesheim of El Sobrante, California, on the Eastern side of the San Francisco Bay Area, got interested in multisport at age 50, but he’s never stopped moving. Ever. Really, I don’t think he knows how to sit still.
His endless energy has propelled him to 18 ITU World Duathlon Championships, and dozens and dozens of national, regional, and local races. He had his eye on a gold medal for years, and in 2015, he claimed two: at the USAT Duathlon National Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at the ITU World Championships in Adelaide, Australia.
That same year, at age 70, USA Triathlon named Wolf Grand Masters Duathlete of the Year. He’s been on a roll ever since, and will likely continue to top the USAT rankings for years to come. “Health is wealth,” he’s known to say. If that’s the case, he is very rich indeed.
We caught up with Wolf just a few days before the local Du TOES (Triathlon of El Sobrante), one of several duathlons and running events that his company, Wolf Pack Events, puts on each year. His low-key, but challenging duathlons regularly attract local elites and newcomers alike. His well-organized race directing and commitment to recognizing all athletes, from the front to the back of the pack, keeps people coming back. (That and the post-race pizza.)
RBR: When and why did you start Wolf Pack Events?
Wolf: I started Wolf Pack Events because I gave my Karate Dojo, Kempo Karate, to my son. Forty-nine years was enough. And there were no sanctioned USAT duathlons in the East Bay, and I live to race, along with some of my duathlon friends.
RBR: You competed in the 2016 World Duathlon Championships in Aviles, Spain recently. I heard it was a tough day out there. How so? Are you pleased with your performance?
Wolf: When you race in Europe, all the best in the world are there. I came in fifth, hoping for third, but could not have done any better. The winner has not lost a Worlds race in his past six events. The sprint races started early. We [standard distance] started at 11:30 a.m., in the sun…and then the humidity…lots of American teammates had major cramping problems. But it is the same for all, except that living in the Bay Area, where we seldom have humidity, takes a small toll.
RBR: You are a national and world champion and ranked number one in your age group in USAT’s 2015 national rankings. You’re racing up a storm! What training principles help you stay speedy at 70?
Wolf: Du speed work every week. Eat some real boring meals six days a week—salad and chicken breast at least five days a week. Very seldom miss a day of training. Du most of my bike training indoors, and then go out on every Saturday and du a run/bike /run if we are not racing. Hang around with people that don’t whine and like to have fun. My goal is to be the oldest male to compete in the world championships, so I have a lot more races to DU.
On June 25, Wolf and many others (including me) will head to Bend, Oregon, to compete in the USAT Duathlon National Championships. Run bike run swift!