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Thursday, June 3, 2010 10:55 am

Passion for punishment

Hardy Breed founders created a community of triathletes

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Dan Billingsley (left) and Jason Beeler (right) stand in front of a sea of bicycles at the 2009 half-Ironman Triathlon in Austin, Texas.

Dan Billingsley and Jason Beeler of Springfield admit they have a problem. Their shared addiction taxes their bodies and consumes their very lives, but these aren’t your usual junkies. Their high comes from grueling triathlon races comprised of swimming, cycling and running. They are a self-described Hardy Breed.

“You live off the endorphins,” Billingsley jokes. “That’s what keeps you going, trying to get your next fix. And our families are really supportive in dealing with this disease we have.”

The pair launched HardyBreed.com about three years ago, featuring training logs, race reports, pictures and podcasts – video segments in which they address topics like equipment, winter training and even the free T-shirts often given to race participants. Billingsley is a webmaster in his other life, while Beeler works as a physical therapist by day, so the site is a natural marriage of their individual skills and shared passion. They began triathlon training about four years ago, but noticed a lack of community in Springfield for their chosen challenge, so they made their own. Though there were already Springfield groups catering to athletes in the individual sports making up the triathlon, Beeler and Billingsley wanted to bring them together.

“What we’ve tried to do is combine and create a communication between those groups and organize them better as far as communicating with other multi-sport athletes,” Beeler says. “We’ve tried to be a centrally organized forum for sharing information. The multi-sport community is small, so if we can combine ourselves, it can be a stronger community.”

“It’s just kind of a bunch of friends who get together and work toward the same goal,” Billingsley says. “We want to be a forum for multi-sport athletes who are not elite athletes, who have nine-to-five jobs.”

Though the site isn’t a big money-maker, Billingsley says it has brought them some recognition in the triathlon community.

Dan Billingsley (left) and Jason Beeler (right) stand in front of a sea of bicycles at the 2009 half-Ironman Triathlon in Austin, Texas.
“We have people come up to us and say, ‘Hey Dan, I’m so-and-so,’ and you have no clue who they are, but they know us through the site,” Billingsley says. “We meet all kinds of people through the site, and it’s really cool to go to a race and see that somebody else is paying attention to what you’re doing.”

“It’s just nice to see people who share the same interest as you and can relate to that,” Beeler adds. “There may be another triathlete right here who we don’t know, but if there’s a forum like we created to get people to know each other, that makes it a better community.”

Running the site also forces Beeler and Billingsley to stick with their training.

“The accountability is definitely there,” Billingsley says. “You think about it when you’re out on a ride and you go, ‘If I have to write about this, I can’t say I turned around at mile five and went home.’ You definitely want to succeed in the workout you planned.”

Beeler’s and Billingsley’s last big event was a half-Ironman race in Austin, Texas – a 1.2-mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike ride and capped with a half-marathon 13.1-mile run – for a total of 70.3 demanding miles. They are currently training for a full Ironman race.

“Once you cross that finish line, you’re thinking, ‘Wow, I really did it,’ ” Beeler says. “You don’t just start training a couple of weeks before, either. It’s a big buildup, a lifestyle change. It can get very emotional.”

Their advice to someone just starting to get in shape?

“Stick with it,” Beeler says. “I think a lot of people will get frustrated, whether you’re trying to lose weight or you get injured.”

“Be patient,” Billingsley adds. “Take it one step at a time, and eventually it will come to you.”  

Contact Patrick Yeagle at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com.

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