No one can deny the remoteness of South Dakota. The entire state houses fewer people than most metropolitan areas in the United States. A sport as obscure as triathlon in a state like South Dakota needs purposeful marketing to receive the attention it needs to survive.
And the Outland Challenge staff understands the need for great marketing.
The OC has been on our radar as one of South Dakota’s best races for a few years. Race organizers strategize early to determine how they can make their event the best in the state and bring a particular group of people (triathletes) to a remote location (not just South Dakota, but Gary, South Dakota, population circa 225).
This year is no different.
The Outland Challenge will officially open registration on December 1. And while a handful of 2016 races are open in South Dakota, the OC is the one race where organizers are throwing out incentives and creating some buzz in social media. All changes results from 2015 athlete feedback. So, what can participants expect?
- An earlier race start. Olympic-distance men can plan on dipping their toes in the water at 8am on July 16. This will greatly assist athletes sensitive to the heat and allow them to finish before the warmest part of the day hits.
- A catered meal on site. Willis Group is sponsoring a catered meal for athletes and volunteers, something desperately needed when pairing a beautiful remote location with a physically rigorous event.
- Additional cold water misting stations on the run. The 2015 event saw some pretty warm temps, and athletes will benefit from more cold-water misting stations, with the hope of staying cool and delivering some fantastic times.
- Blender Bottle Promo: the first 100 participants who sign up for the race will receive a custom blender bottle in their race packets. Other than the perfunctory “sign up or you don’t get a t-shirt” threat, no other race in the state offers an early sign up perk.
The OC’s quality venue, volunteers, and overall event come quite naturally from their status as the only USAT spring and olympic distance races in the state. This title is not just an arbitrary nicety. The OC’s course has to comply with standards which qualify it for the USAT label, making it a very well-run race. Race organizers pride themselves on their well-trained volunteers and low-traffic course, making this one of the safest races in the state.
Furthermore, the OC has a fat purse. With over $2,000 in cash prize money, this race on the prairie has the highest payout in the region.
Seasoned and even rookie racers alike know the criticism of this race. One trip to Lake Cochrane reveals what both terrifies and attracts racers to the venue: the hills. However, nothing good ever comes easy, and those who take on the Challenge will have bragging rights for life. Hannah Merritt, one of the many key people in making this race successful, states, “The consistent and unforgiving hills throughout the course is a key feature that make our race so unique!”
South Dakota tourism photos usually have views of pancake flat prairie with a focus on seeing for miles. The OC hills offer something that most South Dakotans have to travel out of the state to experience.
Registration opens December 1, and if you’re still working on your 2016 race calendar, keep July 16 open and check out the Outland Challenge. A blender bottle is waiting for you.