Outland Challenge Turns up the Heat

PhotoGrid_1500144138356Like a Pied Piper, the Outland Challenge calls to the strongest of triathletes, wishing to test their mettle against the hills surrounding Lake Cochrane and the heat that a mid-July race in South Dakota guarantees. Not everyone enjoys the challenge, especially in the thick of it, and yet because of the achievement that comes with conquering one of the toughest courses in the state, people keep coming back. (Plus they have really cool shirts and a fat purse for the top three men and women.) (Find the results here.)

Mother Nature provided the beautiful, challenging course along with the stifling humidity.  Kevin Mitchell once again bested his competition, using his powerful cycling skills to climb his way past his competitors and hold onto a lead on the run. Ryan Remmers came in second, just a strong minute behind Mitchell. Brad Lowery used his superior running skills to run down his competition in the third leg of the race, squeaking past all-star triathlete Greg Taylor to win third place by five seconds and giving spectators an exciting event to watch.

PhotoGrid_1500144174194The always strong Hannah Carlson from the metropolis of Mina took home the women’s big purse, while Brigitte Setness dug deep into her well of Ironman mental toughness to conquer the heat and bring home second place. Nancy Whillock, who incidentally trains with Carlson, came in third place, despite the pain that comes from a cracked rib on the mend. Whillock also rightfully won the Spirit Award, which goes to the participants who demonstrates the most spirit and inspiration. Anyone who has met Nancy can’t help but smile thanks to her contagious grin.

The Lee Cousins team of Jake, Justine, and Mari Lee won the team purse with a solid, overall performance by each member.

This year’s Outland Challenge also featured the famed Lake Cochrane Lake Run, a 4.4 loop around the lake. Youth took the prize, but not all of it, this year. Seventeen-year-old Anthony Wollum won first place, sixteen-year-old Jalyn Ufkin came in second, and seventeen-year-old Zachary Hansen came in third for the men. Thirteen-year-old Grace Drietz brought in first place for the women, while fifteen-year-old Faith Traen came in second. The seasoned runner Dori Vandendriessch of Florida crossed the finish line a strong thirty seconds after Traen, winning the third place prize.

Few people work harder than race organizer Steve Scott to ensure a quality, safe event for triathletes. Yes, this is a hard course (have we mentioned this?), but Scott and his crew work hard to make ensure a well-supported swim, clean corners on the bike course, and a run course with than adequate aid (who else has multiple misting stations in a 4.5-mile run?!). This year’s race also provided athletes with icy-cold chocolate milk and a meal of hotdogs and chips.

The folks up at Lake Cochrane put on a great event this year as always. With a nearly 1:1 volunteer to participant ratio, live music, an entertaining and informative race announcer, and the serene beauty of the prairie, the Outland Challenge is a race that every triathlete should conquer at least once. So start training on some hills, and consider tackling this race in the future.

The South Dakota tri scene is a little quiet next week with no races on the horizon, but then things begin to heat up again in late July and early August with events in both Huron (the Ravineman Tri–register here) and Pierre (the Riverman Tri–register here). Both are worth checking out. Plus, we’ll be there to capture every athlete’s best side in spandex.

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The Outland Challenge: A Beautiful Course for a Worthy Cause

outland challengeThe seventh Outland Challenge will take place this coming Saturday at the Lake Cochrane State Park near Gary, South Dakota. (register here)

Do not let the obscure location of this race fool you: it’s a real experience.

“We put on a production,” race founder Steve Scott says about the race, citing one of the most beautiful courses in the state (with the cleanest lake that we know of), an entertaining race announcer, cowbells at the finish line, and motivating music throughout the event.

FB_IMG_1499744164480This year’s event has the typical distances that folks up at Lake Cochrane call a sprint race: a 400-yard swim in the spring-fed Lake Cochrane; a 15-mile bike ride through the rolling hills near, through, and beyond Gary; and the challenging and beautiful 4.4-mile run around the lake. Those who don’t dwell on the difficulty of the hills can easily focus on the gorgeous prairie that surrounds this course. Well-trained, encouraging volunteers greet participants on many points in this course as well. This year’s event will also feature a finish-line meal once again for participants thanks to the Lake Cochrane Association.

The 2017 Outland Challenge is not just a sprint triathlon. It also has a 4.4-mile competitive road race. The road race will begin as soon as the last triathlete has left the State Park. Competitive runners will go first, with the fun runners and walkers leaving three minutes later.

As always, the OC staff has chosen a worthy recipient of their profits. This year’s financial gift will go to SACH, Stewards Against Childhood Hunger. This privately funded organization provides nutritional supplements for any child who signs up in the Clear Lake School District. So participants can feel good knowing their registration fee goes to help a fantastic cause.

This race has one of the biggest cash payouts of any race in the state. The top male and female athlete will each receive $200. The second place male and female athletes will receive $125. And the third place male and female athletes will receive $75. Additionally, the top team will receive $100. This race also is the only race in the state that recognizes and awards sportsmanship. Volunteers and athletes can nominate an individual for the sportsmanship award, and the winner of this award will receive $200. Any man or woman who breaks the course record will receive not just bragging rights but an additional $100.

The Lake Loop Run offers a pretty sweet payout too. The top men and women receive $75, second place receives $50, and third place receives $25.

Great athletes will receive a pretty great payout.

This year’s winnings looks ripe for the taking thus far. With lower numbers so far at the OC, the top prizes are up for grabs. The men’s field has some heavy hitters that we’ll keep on the down low for now. Just know this: the pros from Minnesota are unavailable, so some of the fastest locals in the state are eyeing the prize at Cochrane.

If you’re looking for an overall great experience, come up to Lake Cochrane Saturday morning (but register before that). You’ll find yourself challenged and rewarded all in the same day. Plus, we’ll be there taking the best races pictures in all of South Dakota to memorialize the day.


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Hy-Vee at Lake Kampeska: a Beautiful Day to Tri

IMG_7985The Hy-Vee Triathlon at Lake Kampeska took place this past Saturday, July 8, on one of the most beautiful days the area has seen thus far this summer. Nary a breeze flowed, creating a glassy lake, a calm ride, and a sweaty run.  (You can find results here)

Age was a factor in this race, as the most seasoned of triathletes came out and took home the prizes for the men. Kevin Mitchell turned on the gas for each of the disciplines as he felt his nemeses breathing down his neck. Local favorite Ryan Remmers, who bikes the course multiple times a week, blasted through the finishing chute second, and Ken Winters sprinted his lean physique into third place. Incidentally, each of these men individually commented to our photographer that they were getting a little too old for this type of competition. We disagree.

PhotoGrid_1499552643090Brigitte Setness, a last-minute entry, came home with women’s first prize. Setness has laid low in the South Dakota sprint scene for the past couple of years, and we’re hoping to see her face more at the coming races. Stephanie Peterson of Minnesota, who happened to be visiting friends on Kampeska, used her uber-fast run to race her way to second place. Teresa Van Hyfte, a regular on the South Dakota tri scene, rounded out the women’s podium with her fish-like swimming skills and then solid bike and run.

PhotoGrid_1499552679015The Fun Team consisting of Payton Anderson, Alan Hartwig, and Sara Pokela took first place in the team competition, besting their competition by a solid fourteen minutes. That’s what we call fun. The Eagle Rays (Melanie, Tierney, and Trinity Hodorff) took second place, and #slowpokes (Todd Bohls, Jesse Greve, and Stacey Greve) took third place.

Our all-time favorite senior triathlete Frank Farrar also flew in to race and inspire everyone who saw him. With 86-year-old Farrar, age is not factor. He just keeps tri-ing. In fact, he noted how he improved on his time from last year.

The feel-good story of the day goes to the Raymer family. They were easy to spot. Each one–men, women, teens, and kids–wore a bright yellow shirt with the words “Team Colleen” on the front and then a picture of Burton Raymer and his wife Colleen on the back. Colleen died this past year, and two Raymer family members raced in honor of her. Best of all, Burton won the men’s 70-over age group. “We just told him that mom was smiling down on him today,” one family member commented.

Even with low numbers, spirits soared high at this year’s race. After all, who doesn’t love a triathlon when the weather is perfect, the competition is inspiring, and the food (as always when Hy-Vee provides) is tasty.

Next week the Outland Challenge (register here) will grace the tri-scene in the state. Those interested in a fun, challenging, and overall beautiful course should check it out. We’ll tell you more on Monday when we post a race preview and let you know about the exciting improvements on the event.

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The Hy-Vee Mini Triathlon: The Best Shore Swim in the State

kampeska park picThe 33rd Annual Hy-vee Mini Triathlon at Lake Kampeska near Watertown (register here) will take place this coming Saturday. Those caught up in the hubbub of local Independence Day celebrations could easily overlook this gem in the South Dakota triathlon circuit. Don’t make that mistake.

The race at Kampeska has some unique features specific only to this particular event. In particular, the swim takes place along the shore of Lake Kampeska. Participants need only to swim parallel to the boardwalk and aim for the dock a quarter mile or so away. Those feeling a little skittish about their swimming skills may swim in water where they can stand to take a break if they need to.

The 14-mile bike course takes participants on some gentle rollers around the lake where the scenery consists of summer cattails and beautiful lake homes. Some residents even park their most comfy lawn chair outside their homes to cheer on the sweaty riders.

The 5-K run takes participants into a pancake flat and uber safe route in the industrial part of Watertown. If runners look hard enough, they can still see glimpses of the lake past the concrete, and they can run down the middle of the road if they really want to (we’ve seen this happen).

This race also has a great post-race spread thanks to the generosity of the title sponsor, Hyvee. Sandwiches, chips, and watermelon usually grace the plates of hungry athletes and their adoring fans after the last finishers have crossed the line and before the race directors hand out the prizes for the top dogs.

So as you toss back your favorite cold beverage, down a hotdog, and crunch on some chips while you wait for the fireworks this week, don’t forget, there’s a race to be had. Head up to Watertown on Saturday morning. You won’t regret it.

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Eureka: Where the Wind Comes Out to Play


Local Xterra Legend Craig Harrison won the men’s short course.

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.)


Nikki Troxell won the women’s short course.

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.


North Dakota speedster Marnie Walth won the women’s long course handily.

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).


Local Aberdeen teacher Josh Carlson inspired his students one more time, this time by winning the men’s long course.

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).

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