After the promise all week of steamy temps and a night of wicked wind, the Outland Challenge went off without a hitch on Saturday, July 18. The day began with the gentlest of breezes that South Dakota’s weathermen could promise athletes along with moderate temps. By the end of the event, temps had risen to that uncomfortably warm level (it IS mid-July after all), and the wind had gone from that gentle breeze to one that would’ve given the last riders a decent push home. Still, we heard nary a person complain about uncomfortable weather. These are South Dakota-tough triathletes. (results are HERE)
Out of staters took the highest prizes in the sprint races, with pro David Thompson, as expected, besting the field by a whopping ten minutes. South Dakota forty-something stud Kevin Mitchell came in second, with the second best bike and the third fastest run time. Sioux Falls Danny Jacobson brought in the bronze with the second fastest run of the race. Aberdeen’s XTerra sensation Craig Harrison brought his skills to the asphalt and came in fourth, and youth sensation Jadon Johnson brought his A-game to round out the top five men in the sprint division.
Elite Minnesota athlete Bridget McCoy won the women’s sprint race by a solid eight minutes, placing third overall amongst all sprint athletes. Current SDTA points leader Kathy Grady came in second with current second-place points holder Kimber Pierchalski literally on her heels. These two gals had a foot race to the black and red finish arch. Sioux Falls’ Alicia Elmamoini and Rochester’s Wendy Nevala finished fourth and fifth respectively.
The Olympic distance saw the local talent bring home the cash. Brandon Zelfer once again drove through the night but this time came home with the fat purse, beginning his race with a swim so fast that he came in before the women in the sprint division had a chance to get their dophin dives into the drink. Sioux Falls athletes Adam Shafer and Eric Bannworth rounded out the podium while Brenton Rains came in fourth and race founder Steve Scott came in fifth.
Sioux Falls resident and athlete extraordinaire Nikki Reinsbach put together a stellar race and conquered the Olympic course at the OC for her first time, crossing the finish line first and bringing home the big money. Andover, Minnesota’s Cindy Schlafman came in second, and Mina’s Hannah Carlson, also an OC rookie, finished in third. Sioux Falls’ Emily Satter and Laura Zumhofe finished fourth and fifth.
And once again, while we love to recognize the top five finishers and even find ourselves impressed by their speed, we cannot help but mention the people who inspire us and make us love this fine sport even more. A great handful of individuals bravely took on the Outland Challenge as their first triathlon, a feat in and of itself. While just the thought of putting together a swim, bike, and run makes some people shake with fear, the hills and rugged beauty of the area surrounding pristine Lake Cochrane make even seasoned triathletes a little nervous.
Still, we saw perseverance similar to what we have seen in so many of the South Dakota tris this year. Marty Takagi, an OC veteran, shaved a solid 10 minutes off his swim from last year. Karen Schwartz, also an OC vet, had the pleasure of changing a flat tire, and yet we still caught her smiling as she strove to conquer the course.
Additionally, this year’s race can boast of a zero DNF rate, and not because the course flattened out any from previous years. We just believe triathletes are getting tougher and stronger, and they recognize the need to prepare for this great course.
The increasingly famous online show CTolleRun made an appearance at the best race on the prairie this year. Olympian Carrie Tollefson and her crew contributed to giving this little race in a remote location a big race feel with their after-race interviews and video coverage. Participants and volunteers alike should keep an eye on the CTolleRun website or Youtube channel to see the coverage in the next couple of weeks.
We’ve long believed the OC was a jewel hidden among the tumbleweeds and flowers of the prairie. This year’s experience solidified that thought even more. Once again volunteers abounded, with outstanding support on all parts of the course. Additionally, fans and participants alike rallied at the finish line when the last runner came through, giving her a welcome unlike any that the other participants received and unlike any we’ve seen at a South Dakota finish line this year.
Great work, Outland Challenge staff and participants. You lived up to your title of South Dakota’s Premiere Triathlon.