Steve Scott has many reasons for not working out–around 125 to be exact. That’s how many nights on average he’s gone from home. His job as the General Manager Renewals for Duke Energy takes him away from home for nearly a third of his nights in a year. And yet he has still found a way to be a competitive force in the South Dakota triathlon scene not to mention a founder and general boss of one of the best triathlons in the state.
Scott grew up in Howard, South Dakota and in his words, wasn’t a real gifted athlete at all. He wrestled and played a little bit of baseball. In college he put on the typical freshman 20 and kept putting it on. In his 30s, he dabbled a little in running, even finishing a marathon in 1998. Like most individuals, as he entered his 40s, he began to notice something a little disturbing: a sluggish metabolism made weight maintenance nearly impossible. “I went to the doctor every year, and when I ticked past 200 pounds, I said, ‘Something’s got to give,'” he states.
So he hopped on a bike and began pedaling. He continued running as he explored the terrain around his home on Lake Cochrane with two wheels. Then he figured that since he lived near a lake, maybe he should start swimming. “You couldn’t call it swimming,” he states when remembering his first swims. “I got into Lake Cochrane and thrashed around. It was pretty sick,” he states. The three activities in his life led to a pretty logical conclusion for a guy who is fairly competitive by nature: why not try a triathlon.
Enter the Triple V Triathlon in Yankton (now known as Yankton’s Best Tri). So six years ago, Scott swam the river, sped across the dam on two wheels, and then ran the bike path in Yankton. And he fell in love. “It was great. I got such a rush from it,” he states. So he signed up for the LeMars Tri two weeks later, and the endorphin addiction stuck.
Over the next two years, Scott continued to train and compete diligently. And he slowly shed 30 pounds and noticed the added benefits of training religiously: “I feel better than when I was in college,” he states.
As he was melting off the fat with each event he completed, Scott felt a genuine sense of dissatisfaction. He recognized that while race directors did what they could with what they had, his training ground of the crystal clear Lake Cochrane and the rolling hills around it were far more pleasant than what other races could offer. “It just kept gnawing on me,” he states. So he posed the idea to his wife: what would she think if they hosted a triathlon right there at Cochrane. “She jumped right on it,” states Scott. Their neighbors also saw great value in it. Enter Luke Jessen, the youngest race director South Dakota races have ever seen that we know of and someone that could match Scott’s need for orderliness and details.
The Outland Challenge, Scott’s brainchild, has become more than just a race. It’s clearly a passion for Scott. “We’re trying to provide the best race experience for the athletes,” he states. The penchant for details does not without planning. The OC committee meets year round, planning and preparing for the one event that showcases the beauty of the prairie around Lake Cochrane as well as the hospitality of its residents.
So, how does Scott do what he does? His full-time job leads him to places all over the country for a third of the year, and yet he continues to be competitive (striving to finish in the 90th percentile of each race he competes in). One word: the YMCA. Scott has purposed himself to stay in cities with a Y, and as a result of his travels, he can tell you where some of the best (and worst) facilities are. Scott’s persistence comes through in his work ethic, accomplishments, and training. He recalls one time when he was training for a 70.3, and he visited one particular facility with an exercise bike that still had the felt pads on it. He laughs about it now. “I did my workout on a 30-year-old bike in one of the worst YMCAs in the country,” he states. Tenacity wins every time.
Scott has learned some valuable lessons along the way as he entered the sport in his 40s and feels the aging process as he continues to train. His best lesson is the one he learned this season: patience. “If you’re sore and stiff, chill. Don’t keep pushing and get more injured than you should be,” he states when looking over this summer. (He also notes that Kari, his wife will call him a hypocrite for this advice since he’s a fairly impatient person by nature.) Scott tested this theory when he suffered a handful of injuries that led to a non-competitive summer–the first one where he didn’t get to compete in his own race.
As a triathlete who simply dove into the sport without a formal plan, he also recognizes the value of help. “Work with the resources needed to build upon those weaknesses. Don’t do it alone,” he advises those considering triathlon for the first time. Scott recognized his swim weakness pretty early on, so he hired a swim instructor to help improve his stroke. In the end, he notes, when you get the help you need, you’ll enjoy triathlon more and be safer too.
Scott exemplifies what we love seeing in our South Dakota triathletes: tenacity, wisdom, and a love for the sport. He and his crew up at Cochrane continue to grow the sport and improve the competitive environment. Visions and follow through like Scott’s will only continue to grow the sport.