The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 SDTriNews.com. “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.