Monthly Archives: July 2015

Modest Predictions and Educated Guesses–who’s gonna be the Ravineman?

triathlon_2071715Modest predictions and educated guesses tell us this Saturday’s Ravineman is going to have some pretty fabulous competition.

The reigning women’s champ of Ravineman is once again toeing the line. Eighteen year old Hanna Wahl brought some stiff competition in 2014 and a super speedy race. But this year Wahl’s going to have to contend with the fast and fabulous forty-year olds of current SDTA points leader Kathy Grady, Kimber Pierzchalski, and Teresa Van Hyfte. Add Nebraska Ironwoman Morgan Chaffin to the mix, and the women’s race is looking more like a horse race with thoroughbreds than a South Dakota sprint tri.

The men’s race looks equally competitive. Brandon Zelfer, the current SDTA men’s points leader, has confirmed with our sources that he will race regardless of the fact that he just finished the Vineman Ironman in California last weekend (where he placed 11th overall and 3rd in his division). Despite his incredible speed and strength, Zelfer does not have a guaranteed win. The SDTA 2014 Newcomer of the Year Just Schweitzer posted a smoking fast 5K at the Lake Kampeska triathlon and passed Zelfer in the last mile of the race. Ethan Marquardt looks like another favorite for this race as he’ll be competing on his home turf and also has a monkey to shake off his back. After all, he carried his bike four miles at the Lake Kampeska tri and then posted the second fastest run. Marquardt has shown promise and tenacity in every race we’ve seen him compete in thus far. We also expect to see some great times from the forty-year-old studs Kevin Mitchell and Lance Bergeson once again as well as teen sensation Jadon Johnson.

If you’re not doing anything shortly after dawn on Saturday and want to see some really great racing, head down to Huron. These hard-working folks deserve a few extra hollers and cowbell shakes as they work hard to see if they can best their own previous times and maybe beat a few fast people in the process.

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Riverman/Riverwoman to Take Place Saturday

Photo Credits: Joel Ebert, Capital Journal

Photo Credits: Joel Ebert, Capital Journal

PIERRE, S.D. – Farm Island’s Riverman/Riverwoman Sprint Triathlon will be held Saturday, Aug. 1. Registration opens at 6:30 a.m.

A mandatory rules meeting will be held at 7:40 a.m. Participants must be present at the rules meeting to compete.

The event costs $30 for an individual or $60 for a team. All participants will receive some

“The course will be the same as it has been in the past,” said event coordinator, Jessica Carr. “It will be just under a half-mile swim, an 18-mile bike on Highway 34 and a three-and-a-half mile run on the island trail.”

The competition will be divided into several divisions with separate classes for men, women and teams.

The RiverKid triathlon will be held Aug. 8. There is a $10 entry fee, and the race is open to kids ages 6-14. Registration for the RiverKid triathlon will be taken until race time.

For more information or a registration form, call Farm Island Recreation Area at 605-773-2885 or

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Ravine Lake — DOUBLE POINTS & early morning fun

huron pheasant

When you race in Huron, SD, you get to see the world’s largest pheasant.

The eighth SDTA race will take place at Ravine Lake in Huron this next Saturday at 7:30 am.

You read that correctly. Participants will need to set their alarms for this race, and the tri-widows and widowers in the area can rest assured that the honey-do lists of Saturday can still be completed thanks to an early start and early finish.

The 2015 Ravineman will have the same unique amenities as the 2014 races, which make this an event worth checking out:

  • Double the points for SDTA members. This is a bonus points race, which means that those SDTA members vying for points in the SDTA race series will receive twice the regular amount of points for participating and winning this race.
  • A marked 500-meter swim course with a line of buoys that take athletes on a triangle course (versus the pre-2014 method
    bike repair station

    When you race in Huron, you have quality markings for bike repair. And yes, they really DO have a bike repair station near transition.

    of a random swim across the lake and back).

  • A 5K run course on a completely closed course and along the James River, which offers athletes a scenic view.
  • A venue which offers spectators a premium view of both the swim, the last half mile of the run, and the finish line with a natural amphitheater feel on a large, grassy hill.
  • A smooth, out-and-back, mostly flat (and very fast) 12.4-mile bike course.
  • The En-tri race: a shorter race which offers newbies the chance to try out triathlon. Distances are a 200 meter swim, 3.1 mile bike, and 1.5 k run.
  • The Corporate Cup: a traveling trophy that businesses can win by having their own athletes compete.

When you race in Huron, you get to race along side some of the best-humored triathletes in the area, like “Clutch” Bill Sunde. (We haven’t seen Bill’s name on the registration list, but one never knows who might come out of the wood work come Saturday.)

Additionally, like so many of the races, the Ravineman will hold a kids triathlon immediately after the finish of the adult race. The kids’ race for 9-12 year olds will feature a new bike course which keeps participants off the highway and on the roads and areas around the park. Word on the street is the youth triathlon offers its athletes some schwag that includes ice cream.

The Corporate Cup really is a nice feature of this race and reflects the heart of the race organizers to promote wellness in their community. This competition exists on top of the regular race. Businesses can sponsor their own employees as participants thus win the traveling trophy for the year. Currently Blue Goose, a team sponsored by Game, Fish, & Parks, holds the current trophy and once again will be vying for its home for 2015.

In their quest to continue to promote healthy living for all generations, the Ravineman organizers are once again offering a kids fun run to top off the day’s events. This will take place at 10am after the adult and kids’ triathlons have concluded.

Ravineman organizers have a great thing going for them. They do not have a huge lake to work with, but they’re doing what they can with what they have, and that makes this event worth checking out in our opinion.

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Beautiful, Rugged, and Well Done: The Outland Challenge


Pro triathlete David Thompson brought speed and inspiration, not to mention a pretty sweet beard, to the race.

After the promise all week of steamy temps and a night of wicked wind, the Outland Challenge went off without a hitch on Saturday, July 18. The day began with the gentlest of breezes that South Dakota’s weathermen could promise athletes along with moderate temps. By the end of the event, temps had risen to that uncomfortably warm level (it IS mid-July after all), and the wind had gone from that gentle breeze to one that would’ve given the last riders a decent push home. Still, we heard nary a person complain about uncomfortable weather. These are South Dakota-tough triathletes. (results are HERE)


Minnesota’s Bridget McCoy crossed the border to handily win the women’s sprint race.

Out of staters took the highest prizes in the sprint races, with pro David Thompson, as expected, besting the field by a whopping ten minutes. South Dakota forty-something stud Kevin Mitchell came in second, with the second best bike and the third fastest run time. Sioux Falls Danny Jacobson brought in the bronze with the second fastest run of the race. Aberdeen’s XTerra sensation Craig Harrison brought his skills to the asphalt and came in fourth, and youth sensation Jadon Johnson brought his A-game to round out the top five men in the sprint division.

Elite Minnesota athlete Bridget McCoy won the women’s sprint race by a solid eight minutes, placing third overall amongst all sprint athletes. Current SDTA points leader Kathy Grady came in second with current second-place points holder Kimber Pierchalski literally on her heels. These two gals had a foot race to the black and red finish arch. Sioux Falls’ Alicia Elmamoini and Rochester’s Wendy Nevala finished fourth and fifth respectively.


Brandon Zelfer shunned a full night’s sleep to travel across the state, take on the OC, and bring home the big purse for the Olympic distance.

The Olympic distance saw the local talent bring home the cash. Brandon Zelfer once again drove through the night but this time came home with the fat purse, beginning his race with a swim so fast that he came in before the women in the sprint division had a chance to get their dophin dives into the drink. Sioux Falls athletes Adam Shafer and Eric Bannworth rounded out the podium while Brenton Rains came in fourth and race founder Steve Scott came in fifth.


Nikki Reinsbach crushed her first attempt at the OC’s Olympic Course and handily won the women’s division.

Sioux Falls resident and athlete extraordinaire Nikki Reinsbach put together a stellar race and conquered the Olympic course at the OC for her first time, crossing the finish line first and bringing home the big money. Andover, Minnesota’s Cindy Schlafman came in second, and Mina’s Hannah Carlson, also an OC rookie, finished in third. Sioux Falls’ Emily Satter and Laura Zumhofe finished fourth and fifth.

And once again, while we love to recognize the top five finishers and even find ourselves impressed by their speed, we cannot help but mention the people who inspire us and make us love this fine sport even more. A great handful of individuals bravely took on the Outland Challenge as their first triathlon, a feat in and of itself. While just the thought of putting together a swim, bike, and run makes some people shake with fear, the hills and rugged beauty of the area surrounding pristine Lake Cochrane make even seasoned triathletes a little nervous.

Still, we saw perseverance similar to what we have seen in so many of the South Dakota tris this year. Marty Takagi, an OC veteran, shaved a solid 10 minutes off his swim from last year. Karen Schwartz, also an OC vet, had the pleasure of changing a flat tire, and yet we still caught her smiling as she strove to conquer the course.

Additionally, this year’s race can boast of a zero DNF rate, and not because the course flattened out any from previous years. We just believe triathletes are getting tougher and stronger, and they recognize the need to prepare for this great course.

IMG_8883The increasingly famous online show CTolleRun made an appearance at the best race on the prairie this year. Olympian Carrie Tollefson and her crew contributed to giving this little race in a remote location a big race feel with their after-race interviews and video coverage. Participants and volunteers alike should keep an eye on the CTolleRun website or Youtube channel to see the coverage in the next couple of weeks.

We’ve long believed the OC was a jewel hidden among the tumbleweeds and flowers of the prairie. This year’s experience solidified that thought even more. Once again volunteers abounded, with outstanding support on all parts of the course. Additionally, fans and participants alike rallied at the finish line when the last runner came through, giving her a welcome unlike any that the other participants received and unlike any we’ve seen at a South Dakota finish line this year.

Great work, Outland Challenge staff and participants. You lived up to your title of South Dakota’s Premiere Triathlon.

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Run a 5K, Support a Stud, Change the World

ironcowboy running

Iron cowboy James Lawrence will have completed 44 Ironman distance triathlons in 44 days by the time he comes to our fair state on Monday, July 20.

Monday, July 20, James Lawrence, aka the Iron Cowboy, will tackle his forty-fifth Ironman distance . . . in forty-five days. And we South Dakotans have the opportunity to make a difference with him.

Lawrence, the current Guinness World Record Holder for Most Ironmans Completed in a Year, is taking on a 50-state Challenge this summer that he aptly calls the 50-50-50 Challenge.

This guy isn’t just taking on something crazy for the purpose of just seeing if he can get it done, though.

After all, most people already think triathletes are a little cracked in the head.

ironcowboy family

Lawrence travels with his wife and five children and a small support crew.

Lawrence has a great cause. His purpose is to bring a national awareness to the ever-growing epidemic of childhood obesity: “We’re the first generation where the parents are slated to outlive their children,” The Iron Cowboy said. “The epidemic is so crazy that I had to do something that equaled its craziness in order for people to pay attention.” He’s racing 50 Ironman-distance triathlons in 50 consecutive days in 50 states to bring awareness and raise funds to fight this epidemic.

ironcowboy wingmen

Lawrence has a couple of (clearly energetic) crew members appropriately deemed the “wingmen” who keep him company during his races, along with anyone else willing to traverse any of the miles with him.

Childhood obesity is exploding in America, with this generation being the first where parents are slated to outlive their children. As a father of 5, James believes it’s vital to reverse this trend and is using the publicity and profits he generates from the 50-50-50 in partnership with The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to fight this epidemic. Thanks to generous donations from sponsors, James’ trip is funded, but he requires $100,000 in public donations for the documentary about this record-breaking victory. Award-winning director and cinematographer, Jacob Schwarz, will produce the documentary. Donations are being accepted through The 50-50-50 Indiegogo campaign here. Donors will receive unique perks like one-of-a-kind art works, apparel, race bibs and copies of the documentary when completed.

We triathletes, runners, and lovers of fitness alike, have the opportunity to show Lawrence our support by joining him for a FREE 5K. The Iron Cowboy will be in the midst of the marathon portion of the South Dakota Ironman on Monday night when the 5K begins at 7pm at the Sanford Sports Complex. He welcomes anyone and everyone who’d like to join him in accomplishing this incredible feat, move their behinds a little, and help spread the word about childhood obesity.

ironcowboy in wisconsin

Wisconsin produced over 250 supporters for the Iron Cowboy’s journey. South Dakota can surely top those wily Badgers.

As of Thursday, the record number of attenders (over 250) for the 5K was recorded at the Wisconsin race on Thursday, and we anticipate even more will come out for Lawrence’s race on the following days. We at would love to see all the South Dakota love in full force on Monday night, so if you don’t have plans, come on out. If you do have plans, cancel them and come on out. This matters. We’d love to see you there.

The 5K will take place at 7pm at the Sanford Sports Complex Monday, July 20th. Walkers, joggers, sprinters–it doesn’t matter–just come out and support a man who is doing way more than running a piddly 5K. If he can complete 45 Ironman distance races, then we can move 3.1 miles with him. We hope to see you there.

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