Beautiful days at the peak of triathlon season tend to make endurance athletes feel like they’re limitless. They push hard with nary a thought of heat or wind. Add a flat course to that equation, and times will drop.
That’s what happened this past Saturday in Huron at the 8th SDTA race– Ravineman, the Ravine Lake Triathlon.
As predicted, we saw some phenomenal racing. What we could not predict was the incredible August weather. Temps hovered in the low seventies early in the race, assisted by the 7:30am start. Huron has an historically fast course anyway with a significantly flat bike and run course. Additionally, Huron is a bonus race for all SDTA members, which means any SDTA member who participates and finishes receives double the normal points.
The field was stacked.
Justin Schweitzer displayed his stealth running abilities once again to literally sprint away with the top prize overall. Schweitzer, while not the fastest swimmer and biker in the field, consistently has posted the fastest run times. The man has a set of wheels for sure. Schweitzer’s overall win and top run time earned him enough points to boost him to the top of the SDTA standings. Ethan Marquardt took advantage of the hometown territory and crowd (and most likely the extra sleep) and came in second overall with the second fastest swim and run. Brandon Zelfer once again eschewed a full night of zzz’s by driving across the prairie from Rapid City during most of the wee hours and still managed a solid third place finish in the men’s field and the fastest swim time. (We plan on checking him for gills at the next event.) The 45-plus group of men rule the latter part of the top ten overall with Kevin Mitchell, Lance Bergeson, and Joel Greve taking fourth, fifth, and sixth place in the men’s field. Despite racing the day before, Jadon Johnson once again posted some impressive times and brought in a seventh place finish for the men while veteran and pioneer triathlete Ken Winter managed to ignore a nagging hip injury and come in eighth. Tony Schwan and Jory Wipf rounded out the top ten for the men.
The women’s race also posted some nice times with two women finishing in the top ten overall. Pro Morgan Chaffin crossed the Nebraska border and came in third overall and first in the women’s field. Chaffin gave the men a run for their money, posting the third fastest swim and bike times and the fourth fastest run time. She may be an Ironman, but she can also still put out some impressive short course performances. Current SDTA women’s leader Kathy Grady came in ninth overall, giving herself a nice boost in the points race. Kimber Pierzchalski sprinted her way past her foes in the run and came in third for the women. Teresa VanHyfte, one of the three fastest females in her forties in the state came in fourth, while Nebraskan Renee Spencer rounded out the top five. The final five of the top ten looked all too familiar for this race: Hanna Wahl represented the teens well with her sixth-place finish, and Lisa Murphy, Laura Zumhofe, and Emily Satter, all Sanford Wellness team members, came in seventh, eighth, and ninth, proving that training as a group definitely makes triathletes stronger. Hannah Carlson, who’s been making her presence slowly known throughout the season, finished tenth in the women’s field.
For those who have never raced Ravineman, it’s a race worth checking out in our opinion. It has one of the most spectator friendly venues of all the races in South Dakota, with a small enough swimming area that family and friends can keep an eye on their athletes easily. The lake sits low beneath a grassy hill where spectators set up small camps of chairs and blankets between the transition area and the swim. A spectator only has to rotate his head to see his favorite athlete transition to the bike and then out to the run.
Great job both to the participants and organizers at Ravineman. It surpassed expectations once again.
The next race in South Dakota will take place August 15th, the Xterra Iron Creek Triathlon, an off-road experience near Spearfish. This venue would give the pavement-softened triathlete a whole new experience of mountain biking and running on dirt trails. It’s worth checking out.