“Have you ever seen a tri-bike strapped to the back of a tractor or a baler?”
So asks Doug Weber, a farmer and newbie triathlete who lives near Farmer, South Dakota. Weber and his wife, Wendy, dipped their toes in the triathlon waters for the first time in Yankton in 2015. Since then, Doug has completed his second tri and trained as diligently as possible during some of the busiest seasons in his line of work for his first half-ironman –Toughman Minnesota in Chisago Lakes, Minnesota.
Doug’s triathlon journey actually began five years ago when he made the distinct decision of giving up a couple of bad habits. “I was tired of Mt. Dew and cigarettes, and was 30 to 40 lbs more than I needed to be,” he states. So, like many of us, he went for a run. He threw away the Camels and traded the endorphin rush of tobacco for the endorphin of a good run. Since that time, Doug has run a total of five marathons and seven half marathons. He has worn the shoulder of the local gravel roads a little bare, and in living in a culture where people are more apt to drive a pickup than ride a bicycle, he has received more than just an odd glance from his neighbors who saw him running. “I’d hear, ‘Are you broke down?'” he laughs.
After tackling a handful of marathons and half marathons and logging hundreds of miles on his running shoes, Doug had an itch to break up the monotony of running. So last summer, without Wendy having done even a road race, Doug and Wendy decided if they signed up for a triathlon, they’d have to train for one. So they did. Yankton’s Best Tri came. With little swim training, they survived the swim and coasted through the rest of the race.
After dealing with the Missouri River, Doug made the move to join the Mitchell Aquatics Club, better known as the MAC. While the MAC didn’t offer any official swim training, Doug would receive pointers from the workers there. “I could’ve quit,” he states when referring to his first few times at the MAC. But he persevered. “I just stuck it out and thought,’I’m just gonna do it twice a week come hell or high water.'” Except for the time he had to take off during calving season, Doug stuck with his plan and built up his strength. In November he celebrated his birthday by signing up for Toughman. Since planting season started and he’s had to stay closer to home, Doug has continued his swim training by swimming laps across Lake Hanson and back, and as stated earlier, he is engaging in occupational training by riding bike or running home from the field when he can’t put in formal training.
Just one conversation with Doug reveals how he spends his free time when he’s not farming or training: family. Doug and Wendy have four kids ages 7 to 14, and his free time goes towards attending kids’ ball games, camping, and just hanging out with his family.
Doug’s search for variety after running so much also led him to the kayak. A friend gave him a kayak to use, and he and Wendy began practicing their paddling. They completed the South Dakota Kayak Challenge in May, paddling over 12 hours in a tandem kayak, battling physical and mental fatigue not to mention the random Asian carp, and winning second place. Whether Doug realizes it or not, the mental challenge of repetitive motion has aptly prepared him for longer triathlons. “Near the end I started to get mentally fatigued,” he states, but then quickly notes, “but we both stayed in the same boat.”
The next time you see Doug, introduce yourself and take a minute to ask him about his training, racing, and family (plus the Asian carp stories). He has inspired his four kids and introduced our favorite sport to a community that knew little about it. We think he’s worth getting to know.