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.