Like 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.
The 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.