The Lions Tri in Eureka took place Saturday, June 24 with all the charm that one of the oldest triathlons in the state can offer. So many things make this a great race. The event as a whole reminds older triathletes of the competitive, pure fun of the early races in this great sport’s beginning and introduces younger triathletes to the simplicity of the sport.
This race is really not that complicated and is downright nostalgic. Step into the pristine waters of Lake Eureka and move your way toward the nearest triathlete. Wait for the shotgun start, and then swim to your designated buoy (the close one for the short course and the far one for the long course). Turn around at your buoy and swim back to the sturdiest bike racks in the state (they stood up under gale-force winds last year). Wheel your bike out to where you think you can ride, then ride west. Turn around at the first orange cone if you’re doing the short course, wait until the orange second cone if you’re doing the long course. Thank the guy standing at the cone serving water. Ride your bike back to the rack. Run out of the park, turn left, and then just keep going east until you see an orange cone. Turn left until you see another orange cone. Thank the nice man and his wife who are serving water. Turn left again when you see the third orange cone. Turn left one more time at the fourth orange cone, and then sprint your way to the race director and his worker holding the stopwatch who are cheering for every last racer at the finish line, a spray-painted line on the asphalt. (If you’re doing the long course, keep going and do that run course one more time.)
Triathletes in Eureka once again battled their arch nemesis. No, not only did the North Dakotans show up, but so did the wind. (The North Dakotans are pretty nice not to mention super fast.) Unseasonably low temperatures paired with a stiff west wind greeted the athletes and their adoring fans (our own photographer claimed he would never feel warm again after this event).
Top athletes received more than just the pride of being the Lions Tri champ. Again, the race staff here understand the pride of the triathlete and the desire to have something to show for his or her accomplishment, so the winners received the biggest trophies we’ve seen in the state for triathlon. Seriously, this is heavy hardware. Second place in each division received a schnazzy medal.
Local standouts and famed North Dakotans showed up for this race. In particular, 88-year-old former governor Frank Farrar took a break from his media tour to compete after capturing a gold medal at the Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama and flew in to compete in Eureka. One of the locals gave Frank a ride in from the airport. The folks up there are that nice.
Local Xterra standout Craig Harrison used his superior biking skills to dominate the competition in the short course and run away with the overall win. Harrison earned the trophy for the 40-over division, and Clay Danielson from Aberdeen took first for the 39-under men. Nikki Troxell took first for the women overall. Troxell took first for the women’s 39-under division, and Annette DeForest of North Dakota took first for the women’s 40-over division.
Josh Carlson took first for the men’s long course and first in the 39-under division. Justin Smith of Fargo took first for the men’s 40-over division. Marnie Walth (one of those nice North Dakotans we met) used a strong bike and run to win the women’s overall long course as well as the 40-over division. One of short-course winner Craig Harrison’s training partners, Hannah Carlson (Josh’s studly wife), took first for the women’s 39-under division.
The trio of Samantha Raile, David Roggenkamp, and Jennifer Beck captured first place in the team division. Roggenkamp does much of the footwork for this race as the long-time race director. His participation illustrated not just his dedication to the event but also his personal mettle as he has been fighting cancer for the past year and a half. We loved seeing Roggenkamp on the course. (Incidentally, the screen printer thinks he’s pretty amazing too. She managed to somehow sneak his name into the bike track of this year’s shirt logo).
We cannot emphasize enough what an asset this race is to the northern triathlon scene. It’s a fun place to compete against and just meet triathletes that don’t visit the southeastern or western part of the state. The event takes place across from the famed Kuchen Factory as well as the host hotel. Plus, like we said, it’s just good, old-fashioned fun (despite the wind).
The South Dakota tri scene will take a break next weekend but will rev back up for July with the Hy-vee Mini Triathlon at Lake Kampeska Tri (register here) in Watertown on July 8 and the Outland Challenge at Lake Cochrane on July 15 (register here). Incidentally, Bismarck will be holding their famed BisMan Triathlon at Harmon Lake (check it out here) on July 8 as well, giving northerners a nice choice of events. We look forward to seeing you all out there tackling the water and road in two weeks.
Thanks for a great event, Eureka. There are very few races out there like yours. Continue to check the SDTriNews page on Facebook for photos. We will be posting them throughout the next several days (after the photographer warms up).