Monthly Archives: June 2016

Eureka: Back to the Basics

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Gale-force winds added some resistance to an otherwise unpretentious event at the 27th Eureka Lions Triathlon this past Saturday morning at Eureka Lake.

Craig Harrison of Aberdeen and Jonette Murphy of Rapid City were the overall winners for the short course, and Logan Fischer and Marlina Walth, both of Bismarck won the long course.

Participants knew they had a challenge when they pulled up to the venue and saw the white caps on Eureka Lake. Our weather sources tell use the wind hovered steadily around 30 mph and gusted up to not quite 40mph. Other than that, the day had the makings for a great event. The Eureka Lions Club put on a basic event with the potential to allow participants to remember why they compete. This one brings people to an otherwise fairly isolated town on the prairie and gives them a tour of the beautiful grasslands in the northern part of the state as well as of Eureka itself, a town that residents should be (and clearly are) proud of.

The Eureka Tri has two distance options: a long course (1/2 mile swim, 24-mile bike, and 6-mile run) and short course (1/4 mile swim, 12-mile bike, and 6-mile run). Everything about this race was unassuming, from a literal shot gun start by one of the county’s finest law enforcement officers to the the single buoy that participants aimed for on the choppy waters to the can’t-possibly-get-lost, out-and-back bike course (go to the first orange cone and turn around for the short course, the second orange cone for the long) to the uncomplicated three-mile loop that took participants in a square from the race start to the race finish (a black line on the highway with race director David Roggenkamp and his trusty stop watch standing by).

A few different things really impressed us about Eureka:

  • Quality hardware. The race had two age categories (ages 40 & over, and ages 39 & under). The winners received some serious trophies (like these here), and the second-place finishers received some heavy medals.
  • The spirit of competition and participation: as mentioned, intense winds caused some pretty angry waters, and a handful of participants realized early on the chop was a little too intense for their comfort. Yet race organizers gave every participant the option of at least finishing the race, and most did.
  • Purity: the race didn’t have a chip-timing system. It didn’t have any live bands along the way or even droves of people cheering. It offered a triathlon in its simplest form, and that made it a refreshing experience overall. Water stops had cold water and friendly faces. Turns and turnarounds had orange cones. Really, this is all an athlete needs to race.

If you’ve never raced in Eureka and want to remember why we all tri, we encourage you to check out the scenery next year. You can see some of it as well as all of the participants in the event photos on our Facebook page HERE.

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West River Invasion: Jonette Murphy


1I9A3821When a superstar athlete decides that a sport may just be causing more harm than good, cross training (and triathlon as a result) often comes along.

That’s the case for Jonette Murphy of Rapid City. Murphy, our featured T3 athlete of the month, grew up in Hoven, South Dakota. Those who follow high school sports know that in the ’90s, the girls’ track team in Hoven was a force to be reckoned with. And while Murphy dabbled in track, she never really saw herself as part of that legacy. “I put my time in,” she says. Shortly after finishing college, she purposed herself to train hard and, in her words, be really good at something.

So, like many triathletes, she found her footing. She began running marathons. A lot of marathons. Seventeen, to be precise. Since she was serving with the National Guard, she took advantage of their sponsorship opportunities and raced with them. But consistent activity in just one sport can wear a body out, and Murphy began to recognize this principle. “They (the marathons) were just getting hard on my body.”

So, she started to teach herself to swim. Like most farm kids, Murphy could keep her head above water, but she needed to learn to move more like a fish. She spent a lot of time in the pool and took advantage any swim instruction she could read or watch online. She started to bike around Sioux Falls, and she found tri-legend Kathy Grady as a mentor in those early years. 1I9A4436

Murphy’s first race was the long-running Hot Springs tri. She tackled the sprint distance, and, like with many of us, a spark of interest led to a flickering fire of desire. She continued to dabble in the sport as she went to anesthesia school, where she earned her degree as a nurse anesthetist. Then, upon completing school, she bought a tri-bike and signed up for Ironman Wisconsin. And the spark that led to a flame turned into a roaring fire for the sport.

Jonette claims she’s a one-and-done Ironman, but even that single endurance event changed things in her family. Her husband, Brendan, was also a runner at the time, and seeing Jonette complete an Ironman inspired him to do the same. The next couple of years involved Jonette continuing to train for local tris and Brandon completing two different Ironman 140.6 events.

In 2011, Jonette felt the urge to take the sport even more seriously. So she hired a coach and began training vigorously for half ironman distance race. However, life shifted a bit when a month before the race, she discovered, after believing she and her husband couldn’t have children, that she was pregnant. Since she had trained up until that point and her body was used to the stress of training, her physician encouraged her to continue training and to complete the event. So, she did.

IMG_0135Not only did Murphy put up some respectable numbers for a 70.3 during her first trimester, but she also went on to complete the inaugural Outland Challenge the following August further into her pregnancy. And then in January, miracle baby Mason was born, and Murphy once again resumed her training.

Murphy’s location in Rapid City offers her some unique training opportunities. In particular, she enjoys riding through any one of the variety of canyons around the city. Additionally, after adding Mason to their family, the Murphys moved from an area outside of town to a house right on the bike path, offering Jonette the opportunity to do some fast brick workouts with each bike ride she completes.

Her training is paying off. Murphy continues to make her presence known in the South Dakota triathlon scene. According to Grady, “She’s racing crazy fast this year.” And it’s true. Murphy herself admits that right now is the healthiest she’s been in a long time. We see evidence of this as Murphy consistently finds herself among the top five women in many of the races she’s competed in.

Regardless of her speed, Murphy notes that the best part of this sport isn’t just finding a place on the podium or even beating her old times, but it’s continuing to connect with the competitors who perpetuate the sport and make it so fun. All of these things together lead Murphy to drive a few hundred miles from her home in Rapid City, cross the river, and compete on the east side of the state on a fairly regular basis.

With her competitive times and constant smile, we are certainly always glad to see her.


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Dakotaman at Wall Lake: Popular and FAST

PhotoGrid_1466302582771After a day that felt well over 100 degrees and a night that involved microbursts and downright hairy weather, the Dakotaman at Wall Lake Tri (results located HERE) treated both athletes and spectators alike with near perfect conditions this past Saturday: glassy water and a slight breeze. Add in a well-marked course and jubilant volunteers who know how to both help and cheer, and the most populous triathlon in the state proved why so many people seek to be a Dakotaman.

Justin Schweitzer used his pavement-melting foot speed to literally run down his competition and bring home the Dakotaman title, only a week after podiuming against some of Minnesota’s toughest competition at the Liberty Tri in Rockford, Minnesota. Kevin Mitchell used his strong bike skills to hang on to second place, and the blonde-bearded wonder Danny Jacobson came in third. Note that all three of these competitors podiumed at different races last weekend, showing the tri-state area that South Dakota has some solid talent.

PhotoGrid_1466302654110After a year off the SD circuit of racing and just a week after conquering the brutal course at Escape from Alcatrez in San Francisco, Brigitte Setness, the 2014 SDTA womens’ champ, proved she’s still a force to be reckoned with in the state with a commanding win for the women ‘s division. Setness also cracked the top ten overall in the race. Wonder kid Katie Patrick used a quick cadence to maintain second place off the bike, and though Kimber Pierzchalski and Nikki Reinsbach finished the race hand in hand, the powers that be at AllSport Central have Reinsbach taking third place by a quarter of a second.

Dakotaman plays host to more triathletes than any other event in the state thus far this year, which also means it draws the fastest talent in the state as well. We saw some speedy racers and a lot of heart overall, especially considering a handful of the field raced longer races out of state last week. Congratulations to all who earned their Dakotaman title today. Watching you compete was once again our privilege. You can find photos of the event on our Facebook page here.

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Eureka: Why NOT Tri?

Eureka Lake

Northern South Dakota has a well-kept secret that several triathletes have heard about but few have experienced. And this year there’s really no reason to NOT see what the hub-bub is all about.

The Eureka Triathlon will take place at the Eureka Beach Area at 8:30am on Saturday, June 25. This low key, family friendly triathlon gives triathletes a reason to explore some of the beauty of northern and more remote parts of the state. Traffic is not an issue with this particular event. Consider the following reasons for taking a jaunt up north:

  • The beach. Eureka Lake is on the edge of Eureka, and it features a pretty beach and area to hang out before, during, and after the race.
  • A fast course: the area has the typical flat prairie roads along with little to no traffic. All of this translates into some fast racing for those who like that sort of thing.
  • Friendliness: the folks in Eureka are simply looking to showcase their neck of the prairie. And thus race director, David Roggenkamp claims this is “as friendly a tri as you’ll run into.”
  • Two distances: this is one of the few races in the state that offers both a long course (1/2 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6 mile run) and short course (1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run).
  • Low key: this event use good old stop watches. So while you can ride fast and come to compete, you can also leave the stress of splits behind you and soak in the view that Eureka and its surrounding area has to offer. Rumor has it you can switch distances on race morning, and you will have no problem registering on race morning.
  • The price: pre-registration is $25. Race day is $30. There are no races in the state with a cheaper registration.
  • A free weekend. Because the Wall Lake Triathlon has combined forces with Dakotaman this year and takes place a weekend earlier, the last weekend of June is open in triathlon world, and that means, why NOT go to Eureka.


We’ll be there too, with cowbells, bright-yellow shirts, and the big-nose camera, so take a weekend vacation and consider heading up to Eureka next weekend.

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The MAC Tri: an About-Face



The MAC Tri took place at Lake Mitchell on June 11, and despite the thick air and generally hot conditions, participants as a whole noticed the improvements from the 2015 event.

One of our favorite bearded triathletes, Danny Jacobson, brought home first prize while the chiseled Ryan Remmers of Watertown took second and the hometown favorite, Marty Takagi, came in third.

As for women, the West River sensation Jonette Murphy, who is proving herself to be an even stronger athlete than last year, edged out the always strong Teresa VanHyfte for first place. Nikki Troxell rounded out the women’s podium.

MAC race directors are to be commended for their responsiveness to feedback after the first year’s event. Navigation on the bike was fairly easy with constant reminders in the form of white duck tape arrows on the route. The run route followed the bike in, and participants had the pleasure of gentle inclines and beautiful lake homes for scenery. Despite the muggy conditions, everyone finished, and the EMS on call had the pleasure of chit chatting with fans in the shade.

This race had some of the best schwag that we’ve seen for participants as a whole. All participants received a t-shirt with the MAC tri logo, one of the coolest we’ve seen in the state. Additionally, every participant received a quality finisher’s medal and a water bottle. Podium winners received some hefty little MAC tri trophies as well, the kind that could stave off a burglar at night if a weapon was needed quickly.

Volunteers as a whole abounded on this course, not only directing racers but cheering them on as well. Race directors made a point of having volunteers at the corners of every questionable part of the course that may lead racers the wrong direction. Additionally, finish line volunteers helped bring in the athletes with racious cheers and icy bottled water the moment the timing chips beeped across the finish line mat. Race directors did a great job of putting together a nice finish line with a massive arch marking the end of a bit of the suffer fest thanks to the uber high temps for the weekend.

MAC tri organizers made a point of letting participants know about next year’s race, set for June 10. We have a feeling based upon the changes implemented to this year’s event thanks to the responsiveness of directors, we’ll see an even better event coming up. So put it on your calendar in 2017 if you’re interested in another quality South Dakota race. You can check out pictures of the race on the SDTriNews Facebook page.

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