The 9th Annual DAKOTAMAN triathlon will take place June 21 at 8am at Lake Alvin just east of Harrisburg, South Dakota. This race is a local favorite for a number of reasons.
For one, it gives a couple of opportunities for triathletes to put some skin in a larger game: it’s a qualifying race for the National BOUS (Best of the US) Race (The top three winners head off to the National Competition in 2015.) Also, it’s one of the races in the newly formed SD Triathlon Association. If the weather permits fans are in for a treat with some scrappy racing.
This race exists simply because of one man: Howard Bich. Bich is the president, the treasurer, the race director–basically the big cheese of Dakotaman. But behind every good man is a good woman. Arlene Bich, Howard’s wife of 50 years, is the paper pusher behind the scenes. Both Biches are quick to compliment the other, with Howard claiming Arlene does all the organizing and Arlene claiming Howard does much of the heavy lifting.
This race has a noble purpose. According to Howard, the race does not exist to make money for a specific person. Nine years ago the Biches had moved from Wagner to Sioux Falls. They recognized that Eureka and Watertown both ran successful triathlons and wondered why the biggest city in the state didn’t have an event. So they created one. They borrowed some bike racks, put the word out, and hoped for 30 participants. They ended up with over 70. This race exists to give triathletes another event and to continue to build the triathlon community. The Biches have purposefully tried to keep the race fees low, and they make no money on the event. All leftover monies go to the Salvation Army after Dakotaman makes an annual donation to the Canton fire department and police department.
Participants shouldn’t let the low fees fool them into thinking this is a cheap race. Because of its immense success, Dakotaman gives out $1,100 to $1,200 in prize money. Yep, more bang for little buck, people.
Since its inception in 2005, Dakotaman has become a staple for many triathletes, with participants from eight different states signed up in the 2014 race thus far. Clearly local athletes have some respect for this event.
The SD Tri News staff have their own predictions for how this race is going to go. We strongly believe that newcomer Justin Schweitzer will have a strong showing if the roster stays the same as what we see today. We anticipate that the youngster Matt Decker and uber-fit veteran Lance Bergeson will also be worth watching for strong finishes.
As far as the women go, we look for local veteran and triathlon coach Kathy Grady to chick many of the male participants. That gal really knows her stuff. We anticipate Kimber Pierzchalski will also find herself somewhere near the podium if not on it.
We also believe two different long-standing veterans of the sport are well worth watching. South Dakota’s own esteemed Frank Farrar has signed up for this race as well as Howard Bich himself. Both of these guys have more races under their tri-shoes than the top three winners will together. So while they may not be representing South Dakota in the BOUS nationals, they’ll inspire those who see them race to roll off the couch and do bigger and better things.
On a sidenote, the staff agrees that best name, regardless of performance, goes to Sioux City’s Leif Erickson. Either Mr. Erickson’s parents were incredibly bold and creative or someone is playing a nice prank on the folks at All Sport Central with such a registration. Regardless, we’ll be on the look out for Leif come finish time next Saturday.
One week more and we’ll see who we can call the official DAKOTAMAN. Or woman.