Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Wolves Triathlon

wolves_triSunday, May 3 looks like a fantastic day for a triathlon, especially in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

The Wolves Tri, the second in the SDTA series, will take place at noon on Sunday. And it’s not too late to register. In fact, most people register the day of the race. Participants just need to show up at the Barnett Center on the Northern State University campus and fill out their registration forms. No computers or smart phones needed.

This particular tri typically has about 50 registrants. However, with temperatures predicted in the 70s and a start time of noon, we expect to see record numbers. The tri begins in the indoor pool at the Barnett Center with a 400-meter swim. Each lane will have a counter, with the fastest swimmers starting first. Participants then transition to an out-and-back 12-mile bike route which takes them on fairly flat paved county roads. The run, equally flat, will follow bike trails and residential streets.

The event began several years ago when a couple of NSU coaches including race director Kevin Bjerke wanted to put together a fun fundraiser. A triathlon made some sense. And while the event hasn’t necessary raised a ton of money, it has raised awareness of the sport in the area and continue to build the sport up north.

This particular triathlon caters specifically to newbies for two reasons. First, it offers the relative safety of a pool swim. And second, it’s so early in the season, if a newbie finds himself hooked, he has several more opportunities in the coming months to hone his skills.

But not just rookies toe the line here. Veteran and champion triathletes have been known to get their feet wet as well. Winners receive free entry into next year’s event as well as a trophy. Age-group winners receive smaller trophies.

Additionally, the Wolves Tri aims to make the atmosphere a family event with their short “Wolves Pup” tri that takes place immediately after the adult tri. This particular event gives kids the chance to swim a length in the pool, bike two laps around the parking lot, and run 100 meters. What triathlete doesn’t want to take home a tired kid?

In addition to a quality event, the Wolves Tri offers those who like to run the circuit of triathlons a chance to meet some of the northern athletes. According to Bjerke, “Since we have such a good community of triathletes, we have so many welcoming athletes that make people visiting feel pretty good. The people that do it around here are so friendly and welcoming.”

Sounds like the kind of triathletes a person would like to compete next to.

If you’re not busy this weekend, consider the Wolves Tri. You do not have to leave the house at 5:30 to get there on time, and you may just find yourself enjoying one of the best little tris the state has to offer and meeting some quality athletes in the process.

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Chilly Brookings Tri Makes Triathletes Wish for Summer

Brandon-brookings If South Dakota triathletes weren’t yearning for summer before they tackled the Brookings I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon this Saturday, they sure are now.

Bone-chilling cold accompanied by an equally cool breeze made the first SDTA series race the kind that put hair on the chest of even the youngest triathlete. Over one-hundred athletes met the challenge this April race brought. Newbies and veterans, middle-of-the-packers and champs–they all crossed the line knowing they’d accomplished something pretty great and a little crazy.

West-river sensation Brandon Zelfer won first prize overall after a scorching bike and overall solid race. We’re guessing that Zelfer saved some significant time on his transitions and gained some ground on his competition by opting to add zero extra gear and thus wind resistance, despite the frigid temperatures. West-river boys have thick skin.

Our pick for number one, Justin Schweitzer, gave Zelfer a run for his money, coming in second taking only 1:14 longer than the champ. Both Zelfer and Schweitzer alone went sub-one-hour. Last year’s SDTA runner up Kevin Mitchell took third, the 2014 SDTA champ Matt Decker took fourth, and Watertown resident Ryan Remmers took fifth. kathy-brookings

SDTA’s 2014 women’s runner-up Kathy Grady took first place for the women (and 18th overall!) with her shark-like swimming skills and powerful bike and run. We look forward to seeing Grady do some great things this year. Teresa Van Hyfte delivered as we hoped for as well with a competitive race overall and looking strong. Aberdeen’s Hannah Carlson came in third, Sioux Falls’ Kimber Pierzchalski came in fourth, and Brookings’ resident Erin Eggert rounded out the top five for the women.

Our South Dakotan triathlon legends also performed well. Both Howard Bich and Frank Farrar crossed the finish line, despite the ridiculously cold weather. In their case, clearly age knows no boundaries.

The next race in the SDTA series will take place Sunday, May 3. The Barnett Center on the campus of NSU will host The Wolves Tri , and the weather looks a bit more promising.

Those interested in viewing pictures from today’s event can find them on the Facebook page.


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Who’s Gonna Be First?

toonTriathlonChains are lubed. Spandex is washed. Shoes are prepped. Now the only question is, who will finish with the fastest time.

The I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon in Brookings competition is looking pretty stiff at this point. Of course, the SDTriNews staff has their humble predictions, but we also know anything can happen on any day. Last season we would’ve regularly predicted a winner with the name Justin, and this year we have the same name in mind but not the same man.

A relatively unknown triathlete last year, Justin Schweitzer should top the field of this particular race overall . . . we think. Schweitzer had an increasingly stronger showing at each race he competed in last season, but then illness and injury set in, and at that point the 2014 SDTA winner Matt Decker took the show. We anticipate Decker will definitely give Schweitzer a great run in this particular event.

Overall the men in this field have proven their mettle in a variety of races in the past, so depending on who’s put in the training and how the day goes, any one of a number of guys could easily work his way to the podium. Kevin Mitchell, last year’s SDTA men’s runner-up will most likely take a top-ten slot along with west-river boy Brandon Zelfer, southerner Joel Greve, northern sensation Kyle Everson, and local superstar Lance Bergeson.

The women have an equally competitive field. Last year’s SDTA women’s series runner-up and I’m Ready for Summer women’s winner Kathy Grady will most likely take the top spot for the women. However, Teresa VanHyfte has her name in the pool as well, and having come off an illness prone season last year, we fully expect VanHyfte to show some A-game throughout the season. Our guess is she greatly missed competing and is chomping at the bit to redeem last season.

The women’s top ten will most likely include Erin Eggert, Jonette Murphy, Emily Satter, Autumn Winkie, Laura Zumhofe, and Mary Turner. Each of these women posted some pretty fantastic scores throughout the 2014 season.

Weather is looking like typical April weather in South Dakota, with a 10 percent of showers thus far, a high in the low 50s, and that ever-present wind of up to 15 miles per hour–just a gentle breeze for the average seasoned triathlete around here.

Triathletes who need to double check their gear can always do so here at one of our favorite posts from last year.

Our staff will be one hand to snap pictures throughout the event and will make them available (for free!) as soon as we can on our Facebook page on Saturday. Keep your browsers keyed towards for updates and smile for the guy with the camera.

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Are YOU Ready For Summer?

2015 LogoSo, are YOU ready for summer? The 15th Annual Brookings I’m Ready for Summer triathlon offers local (and non local) triathletes the opportunity to answer just that question this coming Saturday, April 25.

Veteran and competitive triathletes will their first opportunity of the season to earn points in the SDTA series and practice their skills, and newbies will have a chance to try out a sport they may find themselves competing in for a very long time. According to race director Shari Landmark, “People want a goal to finish a triathlon, and yet we bring in those competitors that want to push themselves. We have a great mix of that.”

The Brookings Tri began when a grad student needed a last-minute semester project. He had participated in a triathlon program that the local athletic training group had put on, so for his project, he attempted to revive the triathlon.

Fifteen years later, he clearly succeeded.

The race offers a few unique elements worth noting. It starts off with a 10-lap swim in the SDSU Wellness Center indoor pool. Each lane has a “counter” who keeps track of athletes’ laps. Athletes begin according to their projected swim times, with the fastest triathletes going last. The bike takes participants out of town on a 12-mile course of 3 miles north, 3 miles east, 3 miles west, and 3 miles south. So when wind is a factor, like last year’s gusty day, participants are guaranteed at least one uber-fast stretch on the rolling hills. The run takes participants around one of the crown jewels of Brookings in Memorial Park and then back through the SDSU campus.

While, according to Landmark, the million-dollar prize donation didn’t come through this year, the Brookings Tri does offer some nice incentives for all triathletes. Overall winners receive Scheels gift certificates and an UnderArmour sweatshirt. Age-group winners will receive custom medals. Additionally, over 40 different prize drawings will take place for all participants.

Returning triathletes to the Brookings Tri will have a unique opportunity as well. SDTA President Marc Satter will have the 2014 times compiled so those who participated in last year’s event can stop by the SDTA booth and see exactly what they need to do to beat their previous time. Who doesn’t want to beat a younger version of himself or herself?


Howard Bich and Frank Farrar, icons in South Dakota triathlon, plan to toe the line on Saturday.

Local triathlon celebrities will also make this a noteworthy race. Triathletes love their legends, and two in particular have signed up for this event. “We’re really excited to have Frank Farrar here, and Howard Bich is coming too,” states Landmark.

For those unaware of South Dakota triathlon legends, Bich and Farrar have been competing for decades. Farrar, known to some as the former governor of South Dakota, also has competed in several Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Bich not only has participated in triathlon, but he founded the Dakotaman triathlon. Most amazingly, both men began competing in triathlon later in life and continue to do so today (well into their 70s and 80s). They’re living proof that an individual can compete in triathlon for life.

So, if you want to rub shoulders with some legends, rack up some points in the SDTA series, and enjoy a great workout, consider signing up for the Brookings I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon.

Keep your browsers pointed towards later this week when we’ll post our predictions on how the field will perform. Race season is upon us!

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