As 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 division (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.