Monthly Archives: February 2015

SDTA: Renewed, Refreshed, and Raring to Go

press-releaseThe South Dakota Triathlon Association experienced great success in its first year in 2014, and 2015 continues to show promise for the group. President Marc Satter and Vice President Mathew Wollman, the founders of the Association, took an idea and made it into something tangible, and now they aim to grow the sport even more this spring and summer.


First and foremost of changes, the Association has applied for nonprofit status. The application is currently pending. Upon approval of the nonprofit status, all donations that go to SDTA will be tax deductible. Additionally, as a part of compliance with the non-profit requirements, SDTA has adopted a board of directors. This has yielded some great results. After all, more people means more ideas not to mention manpower. The two-man operation has suddenly turned into six people who can and will help promote triathlon in South Dakota even more.

The Merge

As mentioned at the SDTA Awards’ Ceremony in October, SDTA has combined forces with SDTriNews, which is now the official source of SDTA’s news. SDTriNews began last year in a similar fashion as SDTA with similar goals but different methods. Both organizations wish to grow the sport of triathlon in the Great Faces state. The Association did so with a quality race series and helpful information via their website. SDTriNews did so by providing race previews, race-day photos, and race recaps along with human interest stories, and also articles linking readers to helpful information. The merger, quite simply, made sense. SDTriNews will continue to maintain its unique website and content, but it will work hand-in-glove with SDTA. SDTriNews founders sit on the board and act as the communications specialists for SDTA.

Race Series

The crown jewel of SDTA, its race series,has grown this year and continues to improve. According to President Marc Satter, the SDTA race series will continue to feature the best triathlons in South Dakota. Satter has personally visited each race director, and all are excited to be a part of the series as well.

Specifically, the SDTA series has expanded to add an additional race. “Yankton’s Best Tri” has joined the series as the last race on the schedule. Last summer Satter spent time with the Yankton Sertoma Club, the organizers of the triathlon, and even at that point race organizers saw the value of being a part of the series. The Club went on to put on a quality race. “I was very impressed with the course layout and how well the race was organized,” states Satter.

SDTA has also expanded their age bracket in the race series. A Grand Master Division for the 60+ years age range has been added for the 2015 season.


SDTA has overhauled its membership registration as well this year. Instead of the flat fee, the Association will be offering three tiers of membership. This will provide suitable membership options for all types of triathletes from the occasional participant to the seasoned Ironman. Because SDTA has moved from just an idea to a full-blown and official entity now, they can also offer some pretty significant benefits to its members. They have a 60% discount code on XTERRA wetsuits as part of the benefit structure as well as some of the new SDTA apparel.

The specifics of membership will be made public soon, according to Satter, and SDTA expects to have online registration available by the end of the month.

Membership will also give participants an added benefit that many a triathlete thrives on: data. Many endurance junkies are also numbers geeks, and while this year will offer limited albeit useful data, Satter hopes to see this area expand quite a bit in the future.

Points System

No system is perfect, and after a successful race series, SDTA saw the need for some slight modifications to their points system. In the 2014 season every participant earned 10 points for participating and an additional 5 points if he or she finished in the top 50% for every race participated in. Hypothetically, under this system, an athlete who participated in all 8 races compared to an individual who competed in 4 could have accrued 60 points more just for participating.

To put this in perspective, 60 points is the exact amount of points awarded to the person who finishes in first place overall in an individual race.

While SDTA has yet to iron out all the details, according to Satter, participants should expect to see the points spread shrink between those who participate in every race and those who do just a few.

Another modification being made this year is how the “Top Half” points are awarded. Last year, these points were awarded to everyone who finished in the top half for every race they participated in. This year, these points will be lumped in with the Overall, Podium (Age Division), and Section points and only the top 4 aggregate scores will be counted towards the total. Also, the “Top Half” points will only be awarded to the participants who do not accrue any Overall points in an individual race. So, the top 10 finishers in a race will be awarded the Overall points and everyone else who finished in the top 50% of the field will be awarded “Top Half” points.

SDTA will post the 2015 points details on the website soon.

The Future

SDTA began as a couple of guys who wanted to help grow the sport of triathlon. The only thing that has changed is the number of people with the same goal now. They plan on continuing to do this in a variety of ways, beginning with boosting participation. The race series helps serve this particular goal as well as simply encouraging people to do more races, recruiting new people to the sport by providing training materials and general promotion of the sport, promoting local races by setting up discount codes, giving away free entries, and advertising the races.

Satter also has hopes for improving the quality of triathlon and not just the quantity of its participants. “Boosting participation grows the sport outward, but we also want to grow the sport upward as in helping make the events themselves better,” he states.

Anyone who attended an SDTA-sanctioned race in 2014 probably noticed some significant differences. In addition to just a simple booth presence at all of the races, SDTA also provided an announcer who kept the participants and their support crews motivated, music to provide an entertaining atmosphere, and a podium for awards. Additionally, SDTA purposed itself to hand out goodies and give away some quality prizes via random drawings.

The SDTA end-of-the-season banquet more than exceeded the expectations of Satter and Wollman, and thus the Association will offer that again as a year-end cap to a fun season. Satter also gave props to the folks at “The SDTRiNews coverage will also be a huge plus for the sanctioned races, providing pictures and news coverage which was a huge addition to the local tri scene last year,” he states.

The Association still has hopes for a Kids’ Tri Series as well, but they cannot officially confirm this addition year as they’re working with race directors on logistics. With the folding of the Hyvee Kids’ Triathlon series, South Dakota’s youngest triathletes are looking for a place where they can hone their skills, and quite frankly, if the Association wants to see the sport grow, they know it begins from the bottom up.

In short, SDTA has some ambitious goals for the future, but they also recognize their limited resources, in manpower, time, and finances. For now, success lies in just prioritizing the goals and working through what initiatives they can do well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Features

2015 Spring Training Guide

PhotoGrid_1424098024433Every triathlete out there can remember his first triathlon. The story will begin with how the sport sparked an interest and usually involves things like an “I-almost-drowned” beginning or a borrowed bike.

The road to triathlon is paved with many tales.

Most of the time hesitation and fear begins the journey. Future triathletes usually have one sport they’ve tried and enjoyed, but they wonder exactly how to put all three together. How DOES a person train for three sports at one time?

Old school triathletes will tell you they began with books, and yes, books with training plans, ideas, and advice still exist, as do a plethora of websites that will provide any newbie with a plan to get him or her from square one to the finish line. South Dakota’s first outdoor triathlon of the 2015 season takes place in only ten weeks, so the newbies out there that want to try a tri this year will find some great ideas even just with the tips at

We’ve also put together a schedule for those bucket-listers who want to cross triathlon off the list this year. When do you need to start? Click here to find out.

We at recognize there’s one more asset out there that often leads to success: community. And with that thought in mind, we’ve done a bit of research that should help any triathlete connect to others and learn to train effectively. Most importantly, those who have never tri’ed will find themselves with a support system they may have not known existed.

Aberdeen: the Northeast Center for Triathlon


Honestly, we never thought so much support existed in the northern part of the state. But those people in the Aberdeen area, they have some great resources:


The Aberdeen Area Running Club is an alive and active club that services a variety of ability levels. Several of the runners are triathletes, so there is a good group to pick people’s brains about triathlons. The club typically meet 2-4 x week and get anywhere from 2-20 runners show up for group runs. Check out for more info on group runs.

Along with coaching the NSU swim team, Coach Elyse Kastigar also coaches the youth swim club AND the local masters swim club, where another good handful of triathletes workout together. This group meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at NSU at 6am for 1 hour, and recently added dryland training to their program starting a little before 6am. Coach Kastigar does a great job of making everyone feel welcome, provides technique instruction on Fridays during the winter months, and runs us through great interval workouts. Much like the running club, each lane of our 6 lane pool has a big variance of ability, and coach appropriately adjusts the interval times for each lane. She was a former All-American for the Gophers and still swims with (or ahead) of us. Needless to say she knows her stuff. This is a wonderful asset for beginners and experienced triathletes alike.
In the summer Aberdeen has a very casual bike group that meets on Wednesday evenings with riders of different abilities showing up. The ride is a social ride but gives riders the opportunity to pick the brains of the experienced triathletes who show up. Cyclists go anywhere from 20-45 miles and finish with a potluck (can you tell we’re in the Midwest? :).
For right now, the YMCA in Aberdeen offers spin classes that look like some great indoor workouts during these freakishly cold days.
Rapid City: The Western Connection
Our information for the western side of the state is pretty sketchy, but for now we know the western side does have triathletes. The YMCA currently offers spin classes, and the Black Hills Runners Club appears to be alive and well with weekly group runs. Additionally, while the ice still covers the lakes, Rapid City offers swimmers two different indoor facilities with the YMCA’s indoor pool and the Roosevelt Swim Center.
The SDSU Wellness Center is currently in the middle of its Lazy Man’s Triathlon which challenges participants to complete an Ironman in six weeks. Then on March 21, the Center holds a trial run of their I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon by holding an indoor triathlon where participants swim for ten minutes, bike for thirty minutes, and run for twenty minutes. Again, triathletes will have the opportunity to feel out a triathlon in indoor events such as this one.
Additionally, the SDSU Wellness Center offers members and non-members alike indoor spin classes, indoor track and treadmills, and an indoor swimming facility.
Madison area athletes have a handful of experienced triathletes as well. A triathlon-specific swim course begins March 12 with the explicit purpose of preparing athletes for the Madman Mini Triathlon on May 30. Additionally, the Twin Lake Trotters meets on a semi-regular basis for weekly long runs on Saturday and Sundays. Those in the area would do well to keep tabs on the Trotters’ facebook page.
Sioux Falls 
Arguably the Mecca for triathlete training, the urban center on the east side of the state offers two specific triathlon training opportunities along with a few other excellent group training opportunities.
Avera Sports offers a Triathlon Training program which includes  extensive training programs of six to nine months, research-based running workouts, a Compu Training Riding System, and swim instruction.
Sanford Wellness also offers a Triathlon Training program, but with some different features. In particular, the triathlon training program at Sanford is a group effort. The indoor triathlon takes place on March 21 and will give newbies a taste of triathlon. The first session of triathlon group training begins April 6 and ends with the Wall Lake Triathlon on June 27. The second session of triathlon group training runs from July 6 to August 26. Both sessions include instruction in biking, swimming, and running along with the community that often comes with a group of triathletes.
A couple of other group training opportunities exist in Sioux Falls. Spoke-n-Sport, one of our favorite bike shops holds indoor spin classes on a regular basis right now, and the Sioux Falls Area Running Club holds regular group runs year round.
Watertown and Yankton 
Both towns have a small handful of gifted triathletes nearby as well and offer indoor swim opportunities but no organized group training yet. With that thought in mind, we challenge those triathletes in the “dead zones” of training here in South Dakota to start your own group. You may be surprised to see who shows up and the friends you will make.

Leave a comment

Filed under Features