Monthly Archives: June 2015

Wall Lake 2015 Report: Perfect Weather, Great Causes


Kip Kinsley and Katie Patrick scored the biggest hardware at the 2015 Wall Lake Triathlon presented by Sanford Wellness.

Perfect weather greeted SDTA-sanctioned Wall Lake Triathlon competitors this past Saturday with warm but not scorching temperatures, a nearly windless day, and a glassy lake. It also saw the crowning of a new Wall Lake male champ and the re-emergence of last year’s female champ.

Kip Kinsley, an SDSU track star, came in and took the race by storm, posting a time over four minutes faster than second place local star Michael Martin. Both Martin and Kinsley broke an hour. And though four minutes separated the first two finishers, only around two minutes separated the competitors in the next eight slots. Can you say sprint to the finish? The seconds that separated these competitors prove the importance of dialing in on every little detail in our awesome SD tris.  Up-and-comer Ethan Marquardt took third, youngster Ike Mendel fourth, and veteran Kevin Mitchell fifth.

Sioux Falls youth sensation Katie Patrick took the women’s race by storm once again with a solid win in the women’s field. Patrick posted the fastest swim time but found some competition in the bike and run. Kimber Pierzchalski and Teresa Van Hyfte  boosted their SDTA points by coming in second and third. Sydney Huber and Amy Bates rounded out the top five.

This race, like so many triathlons, saw some pretty neat scenes–things like a unified group of individuals from an Iowa club that boosted the enrollment or the sisters from Iowa who completed their first triathlon after training together and setting a goal or the team of athletes who can now call Wall Lake their first triathlon.


Scott Ahrendt took some time during the awards ceremony to share the mission of The L3 Foundation.

Wall Lake also saw the return of an important group of young triathletes: those representing The L3Foundation–an organization of kids helping kids fight cancer. L3 athletes participated in the 2014 tri, but this year they brought an even stronger presence and something worth taking note of. This organization began when an extraordinary young man, Landon Ahrendt, was diagnosed with cancer. Landon’s battle lasted 21 months until he succumbed to the disease last spring. As a result of Landon’s battle and his desire to help other kids battle cancer, his parents Scott and Jamie formed The L3 Foundation, an organization focused on helping other childhood cancer victims and their parents as well as support research to find a cure for childhood cancer. Scott and Jamie both raced at Wall Lake and as a result are helping spread the word about a foundation with a great cause.

Wall Lake epitomized why we love triathlon: talented triathletes who swim, bike, and run at blazing speeds; new triathletes who tri for the first time and discover a healthy lifestyle as a result; and causes worth the time to stop, listen, and learn.

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Wall Lake: Rich with Volunteers and Participants

wall lakeThe 2015 Wall Lake Triathlon presented by Sanford Wellness will take place this Saturday, June 27. This particular race boasts of some of the highest number of participants in the SDTA series with currently 124 participants signed up. The race takes participants on an out-and-back 500-yard swim, a 12-mile bike ride, and a 5K run.

This particular course not only has a decent number of participants signed up, but it also boasts of a large number of volunteers, one of the markers of a well-run race. Wall Lake has approximately 75 volunteers. The swim course alone has 12 kayakers and 2 boats to keep swimmers safe. “We make sure it is super safe,” states swim director Kathy Grady.

Grady also explains that one of the elements that has made this particular race a success in its planning stages has to do with the distribution of duties. The Sanford Wellness staff divided the three disciplines amongst three different staff members, and those members work together to put together a quality race.

Besides a superflous number of participants and volunteers, the race also has some pretty valuable schwag. All participants receive the perfunctory t-shirt, but the overall male and female winners each receive a $75 Scheels gift card. Age-group winners each win a $10 Scheels gift card.

This Saturday looks like another great day to race, and SDTA members will want to consider this event so close to the big city of Sioux Falls where they can rack up some points. Plus the Wall Lake Tri staff will feed all participants with some big old pork sandwiches. With good food, a well-marked course, friendly volunteers, and a tradition of success, we have to wonder why WOULDN’T a person tackle Wall Lake.

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Stiff Competition Marks 2015 Dakotaman

DaBike winners dakotamankotaman 2015 brought with it muggy weather, a new champ, and some great competition overall.

Brandon Zelfer brought home the prize purse at the end of the race. He emerged from Lake Alvin first of the men, but he had some close followers. When he returned on the bike, he had company. Yankton’s Greg Taylor, the age-group Ironman world champ for the 60-69 year old men, rolled in right next to Zelfer. But Zelfer had the quicker feet of the day and bested Taylor by a little over two minutes. Michael Martin zipped in just 22 seconds behind Taylor. Anthony Guirini, a Floridian visiting his fiance, came in fourth, and the 2014 SDTA champ Matt Decker brought in fifth.

brandon and Kathy

Dakotaman 2015 winners Brandon Zelfer and Kathy Grady.

The women’s race also held some surprises. Kathy Grady bested the women’s field after coming out of the drink behind Teresa Van Hyfte. Then Grady passed Van Hyfte and put some space between herself and the rest of the field in the bike–enough to hold on to the win despite having the seventh fastest run time. Again, heat and humidity factored in for everyone. Kimber Pierzchalski came from behind on the run to snag second, and Nikki Reinsbach finished third, a mere 13 seconds behind Pierzchalski. Teresa VanHyfte and Hannah Carlson rounded out the top five for the women.

This race did not necessarily have the fastest times we’ve ever seen–the thick air held many of even the best athletes at bay. However, it did have some of the  most competitive action we’ve seen in a long time. Several times we witnessed foot races between two individuals at the finish line. And mere seconds separated many of the competitors.

Yet we also witnessed something that embodies the spirit of South Dakota triathletes: sportsmanship and camaraderie.  We saw people sprint to the finish, cross the line, find some liquid relief, and then turn around shake hands with the next guy who crossed. The shared pain of finishing a hard race trumps any bitterness of competitiveness that could separate these triathletes.

howard and arlene

Brian Brinkman of Scheels hopes to continue the Dakotaman tradition of excellence in 2016.

Additionally, as mentioned in the race preview, we saw the passing of a torch in this race. Howard and Arlene Bich founded Dakotaman ten years ago, and they made the decision a while back that when they turned 75, they’d let the race go. Scheels will have full directorship of the race in 2016, with Brian Brinkman of Scheels at the helm. Many of the Bich’s friends also volunteered regularly, so not only did we see Howard and Arlene with reminiscent smiles, but volunteers had that same nostalgic look. These two put their all into making Dakotaman an event, as noted by both the SDTA president Marc Satter and Brinkman at the awards ceremony following the race. Bich cared enough to even sleep in his van Friday night with impending storms to make sure the transition area stayed in tact. What other mid-seventies retiree does this except one who genuinely cares about his sport?

Brinkman brought some pretty sweet post-race schwag in the form of Scheels gift card door prizes. Many individuals went home with some Scheels cards in hand. Shirley King, who won her age division, brought home one of the best prizes: a new Trek hybrid from Scheels.

All in all, Dakotaman held exactly what people hoped for: a great race with friendly volunteers, stiff competition, tolerable weather, and the bond of athleticism that triathlon continues to foster in our great state.

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Dakotamen–the Fast and Unpredictable


The 10th Annual SDTA-sanctioned Dakotaman presented by Scheels will feature South Dakota’s fastest natives and residents. West River sensation Brandon  Zelfer, world age-group Ironman and 70.3 champ Greg Taylor, all-around stellar athlete Justin Manning all plan on toeing the line Saturday morning. We personally haven’t ever had the chance to see these three race against each other, so in our world, the winner’s circle could belong to any one of them.

Throw last year’s SDTA champ Matt Decker and perpetually speedy Lance Bergeson and Joel Greve into the mix, and who knows what will happen in and around Lake Alvin.

In the women’s race, current SDTA points leader Kathy Grady will certainly be putting forth her A-game considering local speedster Nikki Reinsbach has signed up. The two went head to head at Dakotaman last year, and Grady beat Reinsbach by less than a minute. Then this past May Reinsbach bested Grady by 20 seconds at Siouxperman. We anticipate both of these women will be putting on the afterburners in each discipline and keeping their eyes focused on the finish line as well as over their shoulders. Additionally, Teresa VanHyfte, currently holding second place in SDTA’s standings, has proven to be a threat to the top of the field as well, and we anticipate she also will contribute greatly to the final results of Dakotaman.

To round out the top of the field, we expect great results from the consistently quick Kimber Pierczhalski as well the SDTA stalwarts Laura Zumhofe and Lisa Murphy.

In short, we can’t wait. Dakotaman has one of the most competitive fields of all the SDTA-sanctioned races this season, and that’s without current SDTA points leaders Kevin Mitchell and third-place holder Justin Schweitzer, who have yet to sign up. So with 36 hours left, who knows what Dakotaman will bring.

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Dakotaman 2015: The Passing of a Torch

dakotmanHeader5Ten years ago Howard and Arlene Bich started something great: Dakotaman. A sprint triathlon near the biggest city in the state and a race that not only gave local triathletes a closer option but also helped grow triathlon in and around the Sioux Falls area. The event grew from an idea into one of the most well-known events in the state. When individuals do their first triathlon, there’s something about Dakotaman that makes them want it to be their first.

The SDTA-sanctioned 2015 Dakotaman presented by Scheels will take place Saturday, June 20 at the Lake Alvin Recreational Area. This race screams of quality and definitely is a must-do race for South Dakota triathletes in particular. It boasts of one of the lowest registration fees, with an early bird registration fee of $35 and late fee of $45. Participants can register online at or even on site if they arrive early enough on Saturday.

Not only does the race cost participants little in the way of fees, but it has a fantastic payout for both overall winners and age-group winners. Overall winners in the men’s and women’s category earn $100, $75, and $50 for first, second, and third place. Teams win $45, $30, and $15, and age-group winners earn $25, $15, and $10.

The Biches have organized and ran this event for the past ten years. This year, though, they’ve decided to hand the event off to Scheels. So while Howard and Arlene are still the official race organizers, they’re passing on the Dakotaman baton for future events. As a result, Scheels has provided $500 worth of gift cards to be drawn for at the end of the event along with a Trek hybrid bicycle. Athletes will need to be present to win any of these prizes.

This event also prides itself in giving back to the communities that make it possible. In particular, Dakotaman, a nonprofit organization, gives $400 to the Canton ambulance and fire department, which has provided emergency services for the past several years. Any money left after this donation goes to the Salvation Army. So participants can rest in the knowledge that they not only have the opportunity to race in one of South Dakota’s best races, but also to help out some great causes.

This year will definitely be a special year for Dakotaman. It’s the tenth year running for this event, but it will also be the last year that the Biches will run it. We fully expect to see Howard participate in future events as he has continued to do despite organizing the race.

If you’re looking for a great event that costs little but gives much, stop by Lake Alvin this Saturday. And say thanks to Howard and Arlene for having the dream to build something special ten years ago and keep it going. You still have five days to show up.

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