Monthly Archives: July 2017

Ravineman: Come in, Come in, the Water’s FINE

ravine lake signRavineman will take place this coming Saturday, July 29 at 7:30 am at Ravine Lake in Huron, South Dakota (register here). Unlike years past when the swim portion of the race looked a little sketchy, thanks to a couple of recent heavy rains, Ravine Lake is looking clear and ready for swimmers. Furthermore, the locals have done their best to ensure a great race overall.

Ravineman is known for its spectator friendly course, where the adoring fans of triathletes can hang out on a nice slope, watch their athletes swim a triangle course that avoids having athletes ever swimming directly into the sun, cheer for them as they tackle a fairly flat 12-mile bike route, and then watch them run around the lake. Spectators can see each athlete conquer the run from a cool, grassy knoll. The venue really is quite nice.

ravine lake waterSo, what’s different about this year’s race:

  • The water: our reliable sources tell us the water is really clean this year (as evidenced by the picture taken this weekend).
  • The bike course: the course is the same, but unlike past years when the highway department decided to chip seal the route the week of the race, the road is SMOOTH.
  • The run: nothing has changed, which means this is one of those great, flat runs that a person can PR on.
  • The distance: the En-Tri is no more, which means the race committee can put their full focus on putting on the best sprint tri they possibly can.
  • No kids’ tri: again, the folks in Huron want to make the sprint the best event they can, so they’re focusing their efforts on that. However, there will be a FREE KIDS’ FUN RUN near the end of the race at 8:45 am, and each participant will receive a treat from Putter’s and Scoops. (Can you say ICE CREAM before 10 am?)

kim reigerThose interested in Ravineman need to take note of the early start time. The folks in Huron understand that late July in South Dakota means the potential of some pretty intense heat and humidity, so their start time is 7:30am and not the typical 8am. So while the Ravineman triathletes are recovering with their favorite post-race beverage, the rest of the world will be figuring out what to do with their Saturday.

There will also be a team category for this year’s race again, including the corporate cup. The teams must have members of the given business or family members of the business participating to qualify, and the team that wins will receive the coveted traveling corporate cup.

One more note for those who love their race schwag: Ravineman is one of the few races in South Dakota that prints a full-color logo on their t-shirts. We anticipate this year’s shirts will look pretty amazing and be one of those that you won’t want to put on next year’s rummage sale. If you want one of these shirts, you need to register NOW because the t-shirt order goes in at noon on Monday. Sign up here.

At the time of this printing, registration was looking a little lean, especially in the men’s category. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in the Sprint race and age group (no double-dipping). Overall 1st, 2nd and 3rd place men’s and women’s Sprint winners will win cash prizes and all competitors will be entered into a drawing for door prizes. The prizes are ripe for the picking, folks, so evaluate your calendars for Saturday and then head up to Huron. You can even take a picture with the giant pheasant statue before you leave.

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Outland Challenge Turns up the Heat

PhotoGrid_1500144138356Like a Pied Piper, the Outland Challenge calls to the strongest of triathletes, wishing to test their mettle against the hills surrounding Lake Cochrane and the heat that a mid-July race in South Dakota guarantees. Not everyone enjoys the challenge, especially in the thick of it, and yet because of the achievement that comes with conquering one of the toughest courses in the state, people keep coming back. (Plus they have really cool shirts and a fat purse for the top three men and women.) (Find the results here.)

Mother Nature provided the beautiful, challenging course along with the stifling humidity.  Kevin Mitchell once again bested his competition, using his powerful cycling skills to climb his way past his competitors and hold onto a lead on the run. Ryan Remmers came in second, just a strong minute behind Mitchell. Brad Lowery used his superior running skills to run down his competition in the third leg of the race, squeaking past all-star triathlete Greg Taylor to win third place by five seconds and giving spectators an exciting event to watch.

PhotoGrid_1500144174194The always strong Hannah Carlson from the metropolis of Mina took home the women’s big purse, while Brigitte Setness dug deep into her well of Ironman mental toughness to conquer the heat and bring home second place. Nancy Whillock, who incidentally trains with Carlson, came in third place, despite the pain that comes from a cracked rib on the mend. Whillock also rightfully won the Spirit Award, which goes to the participants who demonstrates the most spirit and inspiration. Anyone who has met Nancy can’t help but smile thanks to her contagious grin.

The Lee Cousins team of Jake, Justine, and Mari Lee won the team purse with a solid, overall performance by each member.

This year’s Outland Challenge also featured the famed Lake Cochrane Lake Run, a 4.4 loop around the lake. Youth took the prize, but not all of it, this year. Seventeen-year-old Anthony Wollum won first place, sixteen-year-old Jalyn Ufkin came in second, and seventeen-year-old Zachary Hansen came in third for the men. Thirteen-year-old Grace Drietz brought in first place for the women, while fifteen-year-old Faith Traen came in second. The seasoned runner Dori Vandendriessch of Florida crossed the finish line a strong thirty seconds after Traen, winning the third place prize.

Few people work harder than race organizer Steve Scott to ensure a quality, safe event for triathletes. Yes, this is a hard course (have we mentioned this?), but Scott and his crew work hard to make ensure a well-supported swim, clean corners on the bike course, and a run course with than adequate aid (who else has multiple misting stations in a 4.5-mile run?!). This year’s race also provided athletes with icy-cold chocolate milk and a meal of hotdogs and chips.

The folks up at Lake Cochrane put on a great event this year as always. With a nearly 1:1 volunteer to participant ratio, live music, an entertaining and informative race announcer, and the serene beauty of the prairie, the Outland Challenge is a race that every triathlete should conquer at least once. So start training on some hills, and consider tackling this race in the future.

The South Dakota tri scene is a little quiet next week with no races on the horizon, but then things begin to heat up again in late July and early August with events in both Huron (the Ravineman Tri–register here) and Pierre (the Riverman Tri–register here). Both are worth checking out. Plus, we’ll be there to capture every athlete’s best side in spandex.

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The Outland Challenge: A Beautiful Course for a Worthy Cause

outland challengeThe seventh Outland Challenge will take place this coming Saturday at the Lake Cochrane State Park near Gary, South Dakota. (register here)

Do not let the obscure location of this race fool you: it’s a real experience.

“We put on a production,” race founder Steve Scott says about the race, citing one of the most beautiful courses in the state (with the cleanest lake that we know of), an entertaining race announcer, cowbells at the finish line, and motivating music throughout the event.

FB_IMG_1499744164480This year’s event has the typical distances that folks up at Lake Cochrane call a sprint race: a 400-yard swim in the spring-fed Lake Cochrane; a 15-mile bike ride through the rolling hills near, through, and beyond Gary; and the challenging and beautiful 4.4-mile run around the lake. Those who don’t dwell on the difficulty of the hills can easily focus on the gorgeous prairie that surrounds this course. Well-trained, encouraging volunteers greet participants on many points in this course as well. This year’s event will also feature a finish-line meal once again for participants thanks to the Lake Cochrane Association.

The 2017 Outland Challenge is not just a sprint triathlon. It also has a 4.4-mile competitive road race. The road race will begin as soon as the last triathlete has left the State Park. Competitive runners will go first, with the fun runners and walkers leaving three minutes later.

As always, the OC staff has chosen a worthy recipient of their profits. This year’s financial gift will go to SACH, Stewards Against Childhood Hunger. This privately funded organization provides nutritional supplements for any child who signs up in the Clear Lake School District. So participants can feel good knowing their registration fee goes to help a fantastic cause.

This race has one of the biggest cash payouts of any race in the state. The top male and female athlete will each receive $200. The second place male and female athletes will receive $125. And the third place male and female athletes will receive $75. Additionally, the top team will receive $100. This race also is the only race in the state that recognizes and awards sportsmanship. Volunteers and athletes can nominate an individual for the sportsmanship award, and the winner of this award will receive $200. Any man or woman who breaks the course record will receive not just bragging rights but an additional $100.

The Lake Loop Run offers a pretty sweet payout too. The top men and women receive $75, second place receives $50, and third place receives $25.

Great athletes will receive a pretty great payout.

This year’s winnings looks ripe for the taking thus far. With lower numbers so far at the OC, the top prizes are up for grabs. The men’s field has some heavy hitters that we’ll keep on the down low for now. Just know this: the pros from Minnesota are unavailable, so some of the fastest locals in the state are eyeing the prize at Cochrane.

If you’re looking for an overall great experience, come up to Lake Cochrane Saturday morning (but register before that). You’ll find yourself challenged and rewarded all in the same day. Plus, we’ll be there taking the best races pictures in all of South Dakota to memorialize the day.


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Hy-Vee at Lake Kampeska: a Beautiful Day to Tri

IMG_7985The Hy-Vee Triathlon at Lake Kampeska took place this past Saturday, July 8, on one of the most beautiful days the area has seen thus far this summer. Nary a breeze flowed, creating a glassy lake, a calm ride, and a sweaty run.  (You can find results here)

Age was a factor in this race, as the most seasoned of triathletes came out and took home the prizes for the men. Kevin Mitchell turned on the gas for each of the disciplines as he felt his nemeses breathing down his neck. Local favorite Ryan Remmers, who bikes the course multiple times a week, blasted through the finishing chute second, and Ken Winters sprinted his lean physique into third place. Incidentally, each of these men individually commented to our photographer that they were getting a little too old for this type of competition. We disagree.

PhotoGrid_1499552643090Brigitte Setness, a last-minute entry, came home with women’s first prize. Setness has laid low in the South Dakota sprint scene for the past couple of years, and we’re hoping to see her face more at the coming races. Stephanie Peterson of Minnesota, who happened to be visiting friends on Kampeska, used her uber-fast run to race her way to second place. Teresa Van Hyfte, a regular on the South Dakota tri scene, rounded out the women’s podium with her fish-like swimming skills and then solid bike and run.

PhotoGrid_1499552679015The Fun Team consisting of Payton Anderson, Alan Hartwig, and Sara Pokela took first place in the team competition, besting their competition by a solid fourteen minutes. That’s what we call fun. The Eagle Rays (Melanie, Tierney, and Trinity Hodorff) took second place, and #slowpokes (Todd Bohls, Jesse Greve, and Stacey Greve) took third place.

Our all-time favorite senior triathlete Frank Farrar also flew in to race and inspire everyone who saw him. With 86-year-old Farrar, age is not factor. He just keeps tri-ing. In fact, he noted how he improved on his time from last year.

The feel-good story of the day goes to the Raymer family. They were easy to spot. Each one–men, women, teens, and kids–wore a bright yellow shirt with the words “Team Colleen” on the front and then a picture of Burton Raymer and his wife Colleen on the back. Colleen died this past year, and two Raymer family members raced in honor of her. Best of all, Burton won the men’s 70-over age group. “We just told him that mom was smiling down on him today,” one family member commented.

Even with low numbers, spirits soared high at this year’s race. After all, who doesn’t love a triathlon when the weather is perfect, the competition is inspiring, and the food (as always when Hy-Vee provides) is tasty.

Next week the Outland Challenge (register here) will grace the tri-scene in the state. Those interested in a fun, challenging, and overall beautiful course should check it out. We’ll tell you more on Monday when we post a race preview and let you know about the exciting improvements on the event.

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The Hy-Vee Mini Triathlon: The Best Shore Swim in the State

kampeska park picThe 33rd Annual Hy-vee Mini Triathlon at Lake Kampeska near Watertown (register here) will take place this coming Saturday. Those caught up in the hubbub of local Independence Day celebrations could easily overlook this gem in the South Dakota triathlon circuit. Don’t make that mistake.

The race at Kampeska has some unique features specific only to this particular event. In particular, the swim takes place along the shore of Lake Kampeska. Participants need only to swim parallel to the boardwalk and aim for the dock a quarter mile or so away. Those feeling a little skittish about their swimming skills may swim in water where they can stand to take a break if they need to.

The 14-mile bike course takes participants on some gentle rollers around the lake where the scenery consists of summer cattails and beautiful lake homes. Some residents even park their most comfy lawn chair outside their homes to cheer on the sweaty riders.

The 5-K run takes participants into a pancake flat and uber safe route in the industrial part of Watertown. If runners look hard enough, they can still see glimpses of the lake past the concrete, and they can run down the middle of the road if they really want to (we’ve seen this happen).

This race also has a great post-race spread thanks to the generosity of the title sponsor, Hyvee. Sandwiches, chips, and watermelon usually grace the plates of hungry athletes and their adoring fans after the last finishers have crossed the line and before the race directors hand out the prizes for the top dogs.

So as you toss back your favorite cold beverage, down a hotdog, and crunch on some chips while you wait for the fireworks this week, don’t forget, there’s a race to be had. Head up to Watertown on Saturday morning. You won’t regret it.

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