Triathletes often toe the line between ambitious and crazy, though few actual voice this truth. In no other place was this fact more evident than at the I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon in Brookings this morning. Temperatures at race time hovered in the 40s, but the real concern coupled the low temps with the persistent April wind. Saturday’s gusts reached a peak of 34 miles per hour. That’s some serious resistance, folks.
If they didn’t understand the gravity of environmental hazards before the race, participants did once they listened to the pre-race meeting which included words like “signs of hypothermia” and “medical personnel available.” Kudos to the folks in Brookings who persisted in having a race but offered the necessary support to keep it as safe as possible. Additionally, participants had the option (which most of them took) to change into dry clothes after their swim. Word on the street is that even some of our fastest triathletes opted for the safety of dry clothes after the swim over a fast transition time.
Race favorite and the reigning king of triathlon west of the river Brandon Zelfer took home the big prize with a second place swim, first place bike, and tied-for-first run. Zelfer’s tougher-than-nails (and bat-crazy) stamina is apparent through his apparel choices with his characteristics warm gear of mini gloves and a stocking cap. We’re just grateful he kept his kit zipped up. East River middle-age sensation Kevin Mitchell took second place overall. Documented evidence indicates that Mitchell even donned a shirt in light of the threat of hypothermia and may even be deviating from his traditional rat-trap pedals and be clipping in this year. Minnesotan David Jensen brought home third today. Jensen proved a person doesn’t have to be a top swimmer to be a top triathlete. After finishing 22nd in the swim he clawed his way to the podium with a stellar bike and swim.
Iowan Jennifer Groos surprised the locals by bringing home the women’s top prize. Groos had some impressive splits as well, besting dozens of men with her mean overall game. Local favorite and USAT age-group superstar Kathy Grady came home with second. Youngster Autumn Winkie of Sioux Falls rounded out the women’s podium.
Despite the uncomfortable conditions, some of our favorite triathletes managed to keep the crowds entertained. In particular Kimber Pierzchalski had her characteristic smile and wave on the run (when doesn’t she have fun?). Swim sensation Lisa Murphy graciously offered to forego the race experience to help the skeleton SDTriNews crew. Because he hates to see anyone lose their opportunity to suffer to glory, the bearded photographer declined her offer.
Overall, the Brookings Tri, which we believe should be perpetually deemed the I’m REALLY Ready for Summer Tri, gave participants a fantastic experience. New signage made navigating the course easier than in the past, and volunteers abounded. The powers that be also made a DJ and some music available to add to the fun, party atmosphere. Congratulations race director Shari Landmark and staff on a solid event to start the South Dakota tri season.
Stay tuned to the SDTriNews.com Facebook page for race pictures.
The next event on South Dakota’s triathlon schedule is tomorrow, May 1 in Aberdeen. The Wolves Tri looks to be a bit less environmentally challenging and even more enjoyable than the Brookings Tri with an estimated temp in the 60s and winds under 10mph. Really, the weather can’t get much better in South Dakota this time of the year. We hope to see you all there!