Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Madman Makes Memories

PhotoGrid_1433035792236Hard. Windy. Cold. Fun. All these words came filtering through the finishers’ party at this past Saturday’s MadMan.

An uncharacteristically chilly albeit sunny morning greeted participants at this year’s Madman Tri in Madison along with a northeast breeze gusting up to 20mph. The wind appeared to factor in as several of even the fastest racers posted some sluggish times. However, whatever difficulties may have slowed racers down did not stop them. Every single racer who began also finished the shortest race in the SDTA series. Additionally, despite the conditions, fifteen athletes posted their personal bests on this course.

West River age-group sensation Brandon Zelfer sped away with the win, not quite breaking a seven-year course record. This one looks like it will stand for one more year. The forty-something phenomenon Kevin Mitchell placed second for the second SDTA race in a row, and Huron’s Ethan Marquardt surprised us all with a third place finish, just one second faster than fourth-place finisher and 2014 SDTA series champ Matt Decker.

Sioux Falls’ Kathy Grady won the women’s race and placed 11th overall, chicking a solid handful of men. Teresa Van Hyfte placed second, and the consistently strong Kimber Pierzchalski finished third.

Something we cannot help but recognize is the growing strength of individuals in the 40-49 age bracket. In particular in this race the top three female athletes in the 40-49 year old age bracket were also the top three overall females. Apparently in the world of South Dakota sprint tris, youth is no determiner of victory but rather experience and the strength that comes with it leads to first place. PhotoGrid_1433040172835

Overall, we’d call the Madman a success. In particular, athletes after the race noted the increased amount of signage (with signs marking each bike mile) and volunteer numbers over previous years. Clearly race director Nick Lemke and other organizers worked hard to make this a quality event. Congratulations to all who finished well as well as race organizers who clearly sought to improve this race and help grow the sport.

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Who will be the #1 Madman?

cyclist cartoonSaturday’s Madman Triathlon looks like the perfect day for a triathlon with highs in the low 70s and the ever-present-South Dakota wind slowing to the gentle breeze of 10-15mph. The competition makes this race look like a great one to follow as well. Once again, our staff has compiled all of their varying opinions, and we’ve put together our most non-scientific predictions for this super sprint.

Men: Late entrant Brandon Zelfer looks like the heavy favorite for winning this race overall. Zelfar strode away with top honors at the first SDTA race in Brookings, and he once again is crossing the river to challenge his east-river foes. If he keeps making tracks on I-90 from Rapid City, he has a genuine chance of winning the overall SDTA men’s prize by the end of the season. Furthermore, considering the fact that Zelfer has never done this race makes us wonder if we might end up seeing a new course record, currently held by former Madison resident and multiple-time Ironman Jason Crisp. Current second-place SDTA men’s holder Kevin Mitchell should also find himself among the top three should he continue to perform in his sub-hour fashion like he did for the previous SDTA races. A top-three finish overall would also bump Mitchell to first place in the SDTA overall standings. We also expect to see some pretty spectacular performances from the 2014 SDTA champ Matt Decker and the fleet-footed Lance Bergeson.

Women: With her least favorite discipline of the run shorter than average, Kathy Grady should bring home the gold for the women and have a solid overall showing. Grady has continued to put forth consistent performances that put her at the top of each race this season thus far as well as the top of the women’s SDTA series leaderboard. We also expect to see Teresa VanHyfte give Grady a run for her money. She has continued to look stronger and faster each race this season thus far. Most likely youngster Hannah Carlson, the unstoppable Kimber Pierzchalski, and the longsuffering Emily Satter will place high in the women’s race as well.

If you’re not busy on Saturday morning and want to see some fast racers going all out (a short course will do that to a triathlete), dust off the cowbell and come out to Madison to enjoy the last pool-swim race of the season.

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Short, Sweet, and FAST: the Madman Tri

Mathew - CC Tri

SDTA’s Vice President Mathew Wollman tackled the MadMan a couple of years ago–proof positive that it’s worth a try. Photo credit: Michael Black, Black Studio

The SDTA-sanctioned Madman Mini Tri will take place Saturday, May 30 at 9:00 in Madison, and it offers certainly the shortest if not the flattest and fastest course in the state.

The Madman, formerly known as the Community Center Madison Triathlon, first began in 2001. Eric Redinger, the fitness director of the Community Center, spearheaded the race and recruited the aquatics director, Carol Shaver, to help him so he could race in it. Around 20 competitors (most pretty hard-core USAT athletes and friends of Redinger traveling from the Omaha area) showed up for this first race. The original race had a 500-yard swim, 9-mile bike, and 2.25 mile run with the overall goal, according to Redinger, of “world domination.” (He may have semi succeeded, as Redinger, who now lives and works in Missouri, still has connections with a handful of triathletes inspired by these first triathlons and now living all over the United States.)

The race continues to boast of a short and thus beginner friendly course. Participants currently race 300 yards in the Community Center’s indoor pool, 9 miles on city streets and paved roads, and 2.25 miles of mostly gravel. Swim start times are posted the day of the race, with the Athena and Clydesdales going first and then swimmers lining up fastest to slowest. No longer do a mere 20 participants toe the line, though. As of today, the race had over 100 participants.

Though this event totes itself as one of the friendliest races for newbies because of the pool swim and the short distances overall, it still brings out some of the fastest triathletes in the state. It has yielded some pretty great athletes overall, like four-time Ironman qualifier Jason Crisp, who still holds the course record. Anyone of any skill can participate and find a challenge.

The 2015 race will include something brand new for the Madman: a Kids’ Tri. This race will take place at 11:00. The Awards Ceremony will take place immediately after the Kids’ Tri.

Additionally, the Madison Fire Department will be serving an at-will donation lunch after the race. Participants will have a chance to rub shoulders with the people they just smoked or eat some humble pie next to the fastest competitors. Regardless, triathletes will have a chance to do what they seem to enjoy best right next to competing: socializing.

Those interested in participating in this chip-timed event still have time to register through Participants need to have registered by midnight Thursday to secure a spot. Packet pickup will take place at the Community Center Friday from 5pm-8pm and Saturday morning from 6:30 to 8am.

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No Excuses: the Mantra of a Triathlete

IMG_3039The resolve of a triathlete—the ability to endure discomfort and handle unexpected challenges—mirrors little else. We triathletes know this. Those who have tri’d for a long time understand how the benefits reach far beyond strong lungs and cut calves. Lisa Murphy’s own experience this past off season illustrates just that benefit.

Murphy is preparing to enter her fourth season as a triathlete, and we have a feeling that this season in particular will stand out more than others. Overcoming seasons have a way of doing that.

After a successful 2014 season, finishing third in her age group in the SDTA championship series, Murphy entered the off season setting her sites on her biggest goal yet: a half-iron distance. In fact, when Murphy received the sobering diagnosis this winter that included the word “cancer,” she had one thought  initially: can surgery and treatment wait until after October 4, when she would have the Silverman 70.3 crossed off her list.

Her surgeon frowned on that request.

So February 16, Murphy kissed her thyroid and the “yucky stuff” the doctor said he saw along with it goodbye. Like a true endurance athlete, she adopted the mantra “No Excuses” and determined to not let other people’s experiences post-surgery dictate her own. She returned to work within a week and ran six miles three days after the procedure. “I wasn’t going to let them tell me how I was going to feel,” Murphy states.

Enter the benefits of endurance training.IMG_9625

Murphy’s quick recovery most likely had to do with many things. “Athletes are different than other people,” she states. “We just bounce back quicker.” Most likely, too, Murphy had the mindset of an overcomer having already dealt with the physical challenge of triathlon.

Post-surgery, Murphy still had a few challenges to deal with, both physical and mental. But tri training saved her from much angst. “I just never really let myself not still train,” she states. She continued to attend the Sanford Tri Training program diligently and saw some incredible benefits, despite what others said. “Even though all the things they told me would happen to me, I hoped I’d be different,” Murphy states. “I wasn’t going to let this get to me.”

Yep, that sounds like a seasoned triathlete.

Murphy began her journey in triathlon organically, moving from tackling her first 5K as a 40th birthday goal to completing the Sanford Wellness Center’s Lazy Man Ironman to entering the Triathlon Training Program and placing high in the Sanford Indoor Tri.

Since that first indoor tri, this Minnesota native has sought to increase the number of tris she’s done as well as the distance. Last year, her third year, she aimed to complete her first Olympic-distance tri. In the process she managed to compete in the SDTA championship series and land a podium spot in her age group. This year she plans on a trip to Las Vegas to conquer the half-iron distance along with completing the rest of the SDTA-series races.

Murphy has gained some huge benefits from triathlon training. In short, she can do more than just run the 5K she aimed for several years ago. Like many triathletes, Murphy has learned to flex her plans with the unexpected circumstances that met her. Her second year of competing she aimed to complete four triathlons, and due to poor water qualities and then a white-capped lake, she completed two triathlons and two triathlons-turned-duathlons. Then last year, when she trained diligently for her first Olympic distance tri, race officials announced the day before the gun went off that due to flooded roads, they were reducing the distance to a sprint.

Without a doubt these kinds of experiences along with just the challenges of training while maintaining a family life and a full-time job, do nothing but benefit a triathlete like Murphy dealing with other setbacks. She continues to maintain focus on training, citing that triathlon has become her passion, and like the rest of us, she’s not sure what she’d do without it.

And also like many of the triathletes we talk with, Murphy cites the friends she’s made and the company she gets to hang out with as a solid reason for continuing in the sport. Not only does Murphy have the challenge of her recent illness, but she also has the challenge of a job that requires her to travel. She has cited the value of knowing triathletes across the state from Pierre to Rapid City, so she always has someone to visit and potentially train with.

We wish Lisa Murphy the best this year and look forward to watching her compete in the SDTA series.

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Check It Out Now: The Inaugural Mitchell Area Community Tri

lake mitchell

Photo credits:

Area triathletes wanting to try a brand spanking new triathlon should check out the Mitchell Area Community Tri, otherwise known as the MAC Tri.

Though not an SDTA-sanctioned race, this particular race fits nicely into the SDTA schedule. Just one week after the Madman Mini in Madison, the MAC Tri will take place at Lake Mitchell on June 6. Participants will swim 500 meters in Lake Mitchell, bike 15 miles around the scenic lake area, and then run a 5K near the lake. All parts of the triathlon promise all the beauty that Lake Mitchell has to offer in early June.

Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to fuel up at both a pasta feed at the Ramada Inn the night before and then at a “breakfast for champions” at the same location. No other race that we’ve seen in South Dakota offers this social and nutrition option. Who doesn’t like to hang out with some of their favorite competitors?

Overall winners will receive medals as will age-group winners. The race also offers a team option for those who want to check out the triathlon scene without a full commitment that particular day. Participants wanting to up their t-shirt count need to register by this Friday, May 15th to guarantee their preferred size. Otherwise the registration price stays the same until May 31 when it bumps up $15.

Newbies interested in checking out a local race and veterans interested in creating a new PR at this venue should definitely check out this race by clicking here. The winner is guaranteed to set a course record. And of course we’ll be there to snap a few pictures as well.

Keep your browsers set to We’ll be running a full feature about the MAC Tri the week of the race.

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