Locals Dominate Sunny, Breezy Wolves Tri

PhotoGrid_1493599593622While the southern part of the state was bracing for snow, Aberdeen triathletes (and their visitors) enjoyed a sunny, breezy spring day of competition at the Wolves Tri on Sunday afternoon (results are HERE). Those who chose to trade the comfort of their warm living rooms and soft sofas for the chlorinated waters of the Barnett Center pool and the minimal comfort of a bike saddle were rewarded with a beautiful late-April day.

Local stud triathletes Craig Harrison and Hannah Carlson represented Aberdeen well by smoking the competition and topping the podium for the men and women respectfully. Harrison and Carlson often train together, spending copious amounts of time on their mountain bikes, killing the single track out by Richmond Lake and proving that the off-road bikers have the uber-strength to dominate windy days like today when wind gusts where anywhere from 20-30 mph.

For the women’s race the Lisa Murphy proved that her gifts aren’t just in her tri-style butPhotoGrid_1493599216317 also in her speed and strength as she brought home second place. Tri-mama Nikki Troxell came in third place, just in time for her husband with the awesome beard to hand off the angry 17-month-old and resume his duties behind the SDTriNews camera. Youngster Maida Walters came in fourth, and Pierre triathlete extraordinaire (and future Ironman) Mary Turner came in fifth.

In the men’s race 20-something stars Tony Schwan (with his smoking fast bike) and Josh Carlson (with his awesome beard) came in second and third respectfully, and Leanord Suel and Paul Hopkins represented the 50-plus guys well by rounding out the top five.

PhotoGrid_1493599257991The teams were once again rule by the tri-master of our state, Kathy Grady and this time her trusty sidekick runner Jay Murphy. Grady cruised by the competition in both the swim and the bike to give Murphy a sizable lead for the run.

Once again 88-year old former governor 1I9A8493and Ironman Frank Farrar showed the rest of the world how to stay young: keep on tri-ing. Farrar finished as the Wolf Pup Kiddie Tri was beginning, and he gave all of the Pup triathletes the honor of giving him a well-deserved human race chute to finish in, not to mention a memory that they can hold on to for a long time. When Farrar finishes, the world around him stops and notices.

Southeast South Dakota triathletes have another opportunity to race next weekend with Siouxperman in Sioux Center (beware, you have to cross into Iowa for that one, so everyone pay attention to the speed limits). Otherwise, the next triathlon in South Dakota will take place in Madison on June 3. We can’t make any promises, but hopefully the chances of snow will dissipate by them. Meanwhile, we at SDTriNews wish all South Dakota (and other) triathletes a fun May which should include more bike rides on the road than the trainer, swims in the lake than the pool, and runs anywhere the road takes you.

All of the pictures our fantastic photographer took will be up for viewing on our Facebook page by Wednesday evening.

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88-year-old Frank Farrar (and other people) Conquer the Cold, Wind

1I9A8127The SDSU I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon  (results are HERE) once again produced some of the toughest and most ambitious of our state’s triathletes, including 88-year-old Frank Farrar, who basically showed the rest of us that cold, windy, typical late-April weather in South Dakota is no excuse for staying home on the couch.

This year’s race not only greeted racers with the expected challenging conditions (that really DO make us wish for summer), but also a slam-bang finish line, having triathletes sprint the length of the new football field. At least one USD grad added to the fun by physically showing her disdain for the Jackrabbit in the center of the field, and another purposefully wore his Coyote gear.

Newcomer and youngster Weston Christensen showed up the typical middle-agePhotoGrid_1493500785639  speedsters by capturing first after a Michael-Phelps like swim and then a solid bike and sprint-like run. Christensen had the fastest swim and run of the field, giving him a sizable advantage over Kevin Mitchell, one of our favorite veterans of the sport. Watertown resident Ryan Remmers came in third, Madison resident Ahmed Elnoshokaty brought in fourth, and David Ulschmid of Arlington rounded out the top five.

PhotoGrid_1493500809672Teresa VanHyfte of Hartford captured first place in the women’s division and seventeenth overall in the race. Rapid City resident Jonette Murphy made her trip across the state worth the time by crossing the line shortly thereafter, bringing in second place. Tri-royalty Mary Turner (for those that don’t know, that’s the daughter of former-governor and Ironman Farrar) came in third place, and Lisa Murphy (one of the most stylish of female triathletes) came in fourth, and Nancy Block of Webster rounded out the top five.

Faster-than-lightening Michael Martin and uber-biker Kathy Grady teamed up and annihilated the course with Grady’s freakishly fast bike ride and Martin’s respectable swim and pavement-melting run. PhotoGrid_1493501016478

Our favorite bearded photographer showed up to capture the best sides that spandex-clad, soaking wet triathletes can sport in 40-degree weather. Special guest photographer Samantha Nicole Troxell captured a chunk of the kids’ race photos as well. Those interested in checking out these two’s artistic work should stay tuned to the SDTriNews Facebook page where all pictures will be posted by Wednesday evening.

 

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P is for Power Couple . . . and Pierzchalski

1I9A8866Support matters. None of us triathletes could do our sport alone. We need people who understand when we’re tired and just want to lie on the couch, when we’re jonesing for another race, and when we’re so stoned on endorphins that even warm beer looks enticing on the other side of a finish line. Those who tri understand the triathlete like no other. And when a three-sport junkie finds himself married to another one, he’s in a pretty sweet spot.

Craig and Kimber Pierzchalski have found that sweet spot.

The Pierzchalskis began their triathlon journey separately but soon found their paths syncing. In 2009 Craig was asked to be the bike leg on a team. He could not swim at the time, but the sport intrigued him, and he purposed himself to do one on his own the next year, despite having no swim training. His first race was a memorable one: he swam about 20 yards of the open-water swim before he called out for help and then finished the rest of the swim with a water noodle under his neck, exiting the water third to last. Clearly he has figured this part of the race out as he has become, in his words,  “slightly more comfortable” in the water.

Craig’s experience planted a seed in Kimber. At the time the couple was working together, and Kimber saw Craig participate in a race in the later part of the 2010 season. Kimber had picked up running in 2008 and started sprinting through a few 5ks. Watching Craig participate led Kimber to believe that while 5Ks were certainly enjoyable, a triathlon looked like even more fun. So she purchased a basic road bike, started cycling, and drove herself to the nearest pool an hour away once a week to practice swimming.

Kimber’s first race was certainly a unique one, with the swim portion ending the event rather than beginning it. But regardless of the order of the disciplines, this event fertilized a seed that had already sprouted and begun to grow since the day she saw Craig compete.

PhotoGrid_1493349821636Both Pierzchalskis understand the sacrifice needed to succeed in triathlon, and along with that, they cite the countless benefits of having a spouse who participates in what can become an all-consuming sport. “We know the cost,” states Kimber, who explains how financial disagreements dissipate when both understand the desire for gear and race fees. Craig and Kimber both mention the pleasure that comes from training with each other like joint bike rides on trainers. The only downside according to Craig comes when your wife repeatedly humbles you by beating you. It takes some broad shoulders to be chicked by the one you love, and Craig definitely has broad shoulders and sees the upside of having a wife who tris hard: “I get the added benefit of watching my beautiful wife look fantastic in her tri suit on a regular basis, and I don’t take that for granted. It’s also great to know Kimber is always waiting for me at the finish line,” states Craig.

PhotoGrid_1493349859363Cleary the flame is still alive despite the stress of training at the Pierzchalski house.

The Pierzchalskis compete fiercely in their events, often podiuming in their age brackets at the sprints here in South Dakota. But their love for fun stands out more than their competitive natures. “My philosophy is have fun and believe in yourself,” states Kimber, who often takes a half a second to give our cameras a telltale grin before speeding by at the tris here in South Dakota. Craig’s philosophy reflects his constant desire to grow and learn: “If there’s a challenge out there, I need to face it,” he states, mentioning the fulfillment that came for him when he conquered the swim.

When Craig and Kimber aren’t training for their next event, they spend time doing a handful of other activities, including doting on their fur-babies Duke and Sadie. They adopted Duke from the pound. Sadie has been Kimber’s running partner since the day they laid eyes on each other during one of Kimber’s runs. Sadie has even run twenty miles with Kimber! Kimber and Craig are avid football fans (mainly college), so as soon as triathlon season wraps up, they’re booked Monday evening, Thursday evening, Friday evening, and most of the days Saturday and Sunday. These two manage to maintain civility during the football season despite their divide on the gridiron, with Kimber sporting Penn State colors and Craig cheering on Michigan. Besides watching football, Kimber enjoys hiking, painting, reading, and relaxing with Craig and the dogs. Craig has been kindling his love for coffee, both in drinking it and experimenting with different ways to brew the perfect cup. Additionally, a new business venture with LifeVantage has added a new focus to Craig’s life along with just hope for an even healthier future for the family as a whole.

Both Craig and Kimber understand the intimidation involved in putting three sports together into one event, so their advice is valid for the newbie triathlete. Craig encourages those thinking about competing in triathlon to not wait until they think they’re ready, but instead to just try it out. “Odds are you will not finish last, and if you do finish last, you beat everyone who did not start,” states Craig. Kimber echoes these sentiments with her advice to just have fun. “Don’t worry about how or what everyone else is doing. Triathlon is something you do for yourself, so have fun with it and enjoy it.”

Support. Competition. Fun.  These things embody the sport that we at SDTriNews.com love, and we can see all of these things in the Pierzchalskis as well. When you see Craig and Kimber on the race course, give them a shout out. We have a feeling you’ll be greeted with some big grins that have come to characterize this triathlon-loving couple and make them people that we think are worth getting to know.

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Double the Fun: Wolves & Jackrabbits, Aberdeen & Brookings

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Both the SDSU tri (shown here) and the Wolves tri has participants swimming in collegiate pools. 

It’s BAAAAAAAAAAACK.

South Dakota’s outdoor triathlon season kicks off with a university pool tour, beginning Saturday, April 29 with the SDSU I’m Ready for Summer Tri in Brookings at the SDSU Wellness Center and then continues with the Wolves Tri in Aberdeen at the Barnett Center on the Northern State University campus on Sunday, April 30. Ambitious triathletes looking for a great weekend workout can find just what they need along with healthy competition at these two races. More is better, right?

The 17th annual sprint tri in Brookings (register here) will begin at 8am with the Kids Tri beginning the event and the Individual and Team Tri diving in at 9am. Transition will be open from 6:30-8:30am for those early birds who like to find their favorite spot on the bike rack, and the awards ceremony will take place at 11am.

FB_IMG_1493004738829This event features some of the best that Brookings has to offer with a 500-yard swim in the SDSU collegiate pool, a 12.4 (or 20K) bike ride that ultimately goes all four directions on rolling, countryside hills, and then a 3.1 mile (or 5K) run that takes competitors through the SDSU campus and has them finishing in the endzone of the new football stadium. Packet pickup for this race will take place at the SDSU Wellness Conference Center from 4-6pm Friday, April 28.

The I’m Ready for Summer Kids Tri has three divisions: ages 5-8, 9-11, and 12-14 with the following distances:

  • 5-8 Year Olds: Swim 50 Yards, Bike .5 Mile, and Run .25 Mile
  • 9-11 Year Olds: Swim 100 Yards, Bike 1 Mile, and Run .5 Mile
  • 12-14 Year Olds: Swim 200 Yards, Bike 3.1 Miles, and Run 1 Mile

FB_IMG_1493005206280The Wolves Tri (register here) will take place at the Barnett Center with the first swimmers dipping their toes in the drink at noon. That’s right: once you’ve pushed yourself in Brookings on Saturday, you can sleep in a little before heading up to Aberdeen on Sunday. This race has a 400-meter pool swim, 12-mile bike, and 3-mile run. The folks up in Aberdeen run an old-school event with mail-in registration, so if it peaks your interest (and it should), download the form and send it in ASAP. Fickle participants may register on race day as well. This race has some of the best hardware that we’ve seen in South Dakota. The top three of each age group typically comes home with either a schwanky medal or trophy.

The Kids Tri, affectionately called the Wolf Pup Kiddy Tri, will take place around 3pm after the adults have finished their competitive fun and consists of a 25-meter swim, two loops around the parking lot on bikes (around 600 meters) and then a 100-meter sprint to the finish. Kids ages 12-under are welcome to participate in this free event. FB_IMG_1493005180844

While the weather isn’t looking like the most conducive for a first-weekend of triathlon, we know South Dakotans find ways to have fun regardless of what Mother Nature may bring. And after all, it is April. Anything can happen, and we all know forecasts change on a dime in the Great Faces State. Furthermore, preliminary looks at the participants in this years’ first events lead us to believe that the environment is ripe for new talent to sweep in and show the veterans how to tri.

So break out your warm gear, limber up those tight muscles, and prepare yourself for a great start to the 2017 season. We’ll be there with our favorite bearded photographer to capture it all: the good, the not-so-good, the smiles, and the grimaces. We look forward to seeing you there.

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The Wildlife Loop Half: South Dakota’s Toughest Tri

photogrid_1473994415227As if moving one’s body 70.3 miles isn’t hard enough, the founder of the Wildlife Loop Triathlon has found a way to make it tougher: put together a course in South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills.

The Wildlife Loop Triathlon took place Saturday, September 10th. Race start began shortly after 8 am when the fog had lifted from Stockade Lake and the sun had crested the horizon, giving racers hope that they wouldn’t face the bone-chilling temps with which the early morning had greeted them.

Two (that we know of) sub-9-hour Ironman finishers toed the line for the race with the biggest purse in the state. Josh Terwoord of Fort Collins, Colorado pulled off a victory with a tactical race. Terwoord clearly understands hills. He came out of the water fifth and then made up some serious ground on two wheels, finishing the bike neck-and-neck with the Wisconsin Ironman course record holder Daniel Bretscher. Terwoord then took a comfortable lead on the run, entering the finisher chute ahead of Bretscher. Daniel Arlandson came in off the bike in third and held on to bring home his chunk of the winnings as well.

Writer, blogger, and triathlete extraordinaire Kirsten McCay-Smith won the women’s photogrid_1473994332259division (and chicked the majority of the men). McCay-Smith recently posted a sub-12 hour finish at Ironman Boulder. Clearly, she’s the real deal. Carrie Egging brought home the second-place money, and local superstar Jonette Murphy came in third.

This race continues to improve each year we see it. It showcases the rugged beauty of the Black Hills, giving racers the added excitement of potentially seeing buffalo and other wildlife on the bike ride. Furthermore, it has the biggest payout of any race in the state, with a total of $3,000 in prize money divided amongst the first three finishers in each division (men and women). Despite the fact that this year’s event wasn’t chip timed, it still provided a quality feel with the stiff competition and the ample aid stations. Out-and-back loops on the run allowed the race to have just a few aid stations and yet the necessary support every few miles.  Early September provides that sweet spot of great weather as well for this event, with a cool start but a comfortably warm finish.

Race director Brandon Zelfer showed particular attention to detail as he personally took a kayak into the water to lead in the lead swimmer and then hopped on a bike to check on aid stations and racers. Zelfer continues to work hard to make this race even better with each passing year. We look forward to seeing continual improvements in the 2017 race. If you’re looking for a bucket-list race, put the Wildlife Loop Tri on it. The venue is gorgeous with constant rolling hills not to mention fantastic ascents and descents on the bike. Dig out a 70.3 training plan this winter, and prepare yourself for a great race next summer.

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