Category Archives: Race Reports

Dakotaman: Legends and Youth Join for Multisport Fun

PhotoGrid_1497724860756With rain-filled clouds looming, threatening to dampen both roads and spirits, Dakotaman took place on Saturday, June 17 at a murky and somewhat wavy Wall Lake. Participants had the threat of both stiff competition at one of the most well-attended races in the state along with ominous weather to keep them moving fast. (results are here)

Like a pheonix rising from the ashes one neoprene clad triathlete after another emerged from the murky Wall Lake waters, ready to take on the next leg of the challenge: rolling hills both ways along with a head wind on the way back of an out-and-back bike course. Rain fell in short bursts throughout the duration of the bike and run of this particular race, giving athletes a reason to slow down just a bit and catch their breath.

Race director and arguably the most talented triathlete in the state, Kathy Grady ran a productive show, not letting even a pesky broken shoulder held stable by a sling stop her from keeping things moving expeditiously. Other than one crash on the bike and a little face plant coming out of the water on the sand, athletes as a whole had a seamless and successful race.


Youth ruled the day with the twenty-somethings taking the prize for the men and women’s race. Weston Christensen took the men’s race handily with a speedy race in all three disciplines, and Hannah Carlson used her superb bike handling and running skills to sprint away with the women’s race. Sixteen-year-old Liam Reese took second place in the men’s division with Kevin Mitchell coming in a close third. Teresa VanHyfte came in second for the women, and Sioux Falls sensation Pam DerHeim took third.


The teams had a fantastic showing for this event as well. Lance Bergeson and Michael Martin, two names we usually see in the top-ten of the individual races, combined their efforts as the Foam Rollers to handily walk way with the team win. Tri-Us, a family team of Dylan Stalheim, Ken Winter, and Calista Stalheim, won second, and the Fun Team of Sara Pokela , Alan Hartwig , and Payton Anderson came in third.

Triathlon legend and Dakotaman founder Howard Bich joined in the fun as well this year. Bich founded Dakotaman after falling in love with the sport during his retirement. Now in his late 70s, Bich dipped his toes in the water and gave all of us inspiration to keep on tri-ing.

This year’s kids’ race gives triathletes hope once again for the future of the sport as it boasted one of the highest rates of participation seen at this race. A couple dozen uber-talented kids ages six to fourteen showed their stuff after the adults had received their medals and Scheels schwag as well as the always tasty pork sandwich lunch. decided to take a new step to share the love of the sport by going live on Facebook for this race for the first time. The cameras were up for the swim start, the swim exit, and the final steps on the run. We’d call it a successful venture despite the threatening showers, and we plan on using the same technology even more in the future. Check out the videos on our Facebook page here.

South Dakota’s next triathlon will take place up in Eureka on Saturday, June 24th. If you’ve never gone up north, do so. Check out the hospitality the northerners have and enjoy a low key race near North Dakota. Keep an eye out for a full preview of this race on Monday.

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Southern Hills: Beauty and Hospitality


Olympic men’s winner Brandon Zelfer

The Southern Hills Triathlon took place on a beautiful Saturday morning, September 4. Participants took advantage of the cool early morning weather of the rural Hot Springs by pushing their way through a fairly challenging and course. (results can be found HERE)

The twenty-year olds reigned in the men’s Olympic distance as local triathlete (and Wildlife Loop race director) Brandon Zelfer won the Olympic division in a commanding fashion while Xterra juggernaut Erik Sykora took second and


Olympic women’s winner Jenny Mosley

John Enos took third.  Jenny Mosley won the women’s Olympic division while Jessica Barrientos took second and Stacy Nelson rounded out the podium.


East River speedster Lance Bergeson literally ran down 19-year-old Jeffrey Loftus on the run to win the sprint title, while Mike Welu showed his experience and mettle by bringing in third place. Wyoming resident Emily Cook crossed the border to win the women’s sprint race, while Black Hills State University’s Sage Riss came in second and Felicia King came in third.


Sprint women’s winner Emily Cook

We’ve been wanting to check out this triathlon for quite a while, and the folks near Hot Springs know how to roll out the red carpet for their guests. The white-sand beach of Breakers Beach at Angostura is definitely the prettiest beach of all the race we’ve seen this season. The bike course offered long stretches of hills, with the evergreens of the Black Hills on one side and the prairie on the other. The run took participants on a smooth, serene blacktop bike path which wound its way around Angostura and, according to our sources, offered no respite from the rollers of the Hills. Every finisher received a pretty cool medal, and the ladies of the Friends of the Library provided plenty of homemade goodies for door prizes.


Sprint men’s winner Lance Bergeson

If you’re looking for a great way to end the season next year, put this race on your calendar. It’s a good deal if you sign up before the late deadline, and no only do the folks near Hot Springs have smiles galore for visitors, but they also have some pretty stiff competition.

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Yankton’s Best Tri: Climbing & Cruising

1I9A8599Yankton’s Best Tri (results are HERE) took place Saturday, August 27 with the most perfect conditions any triathlete could ask for. The Missouri River spread out placidly with nary a wave, and a nice early morning rain shower and cooler temps created that perfect zone where the competitive athlete could push his limits without even considering environmental distress.

The 2016 standouts Ethan Marquardt and Kathy Grady used their strengths to break the finish line tape first. Marquardt had a solid swim, exiting the water ahead of his peers. A modified bike course thanks to road construction meant some monster hills, and this played into the uber-biker Kevin Mitchell’s favor. Mitchell came in first into T2 first but with noted concern that his lead wouldn’t hold. When Marquardt hit the trail for the run, he turned on the afterburners and smoked the competition ahead of him, passing Mitchell around mile two. Danny Jacobson stretched out his long, lean legs to reign in third place. Hometown boy Luke Serck came in fourth, and Ryan Remmers came in fifth.

Grady used her shark-like skills to build a sizable lead against the female competition (and the men as well), and she  maintained the lead with a strong bike and run. Kimber Pierzchalski continues to improve with each race, and she came in on the run, nipping at Grady’s heels. The super-fit Sandy Lieferman came in third amongst a competitive female field.  Theresa Van Hyfte and Jayna Silvernail came in fourth and fifth respectively. 1I9A8495

Kudos go to the folks down in Yankton for putting on a great race overall. When road construction forced them to modify the bike route, they came up with a challenging route that showcased some of the best hills, valleys, and the views that bring visitors to their fine city. In short, the Sertoma Club, who runs this race, used their venue well. They also catered well to the hungry athlete and their support crews by having piping hot pizza delivered by one of their sponsors, Pizza Ranch, at the end of the race. Great work, Yankton. Thanks for the hospitality and fun race.

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The Rugged and Filthy Beauty of Xterra in the Black Hills


The Xterra Iron Creek Triathlon took place on August 20th at Iron Creek near Spearfish. Without even trying, this event showcased some of the most beautiful terrain in western South Dakota.

IMG_4893After some choice adult words about the technical aspects of the course, our inside sources deemed the venue “good,” with clear water at the perfect temperature for a wetsuit legal race; a beach run that lead to transition; a great bike course with the promised technical turns, three massive climbs, a handful of cowpies, and a herd of cattle that ended up pacing some riders; and a run that featured either a double track or gravel-quality road. Overall, the race scene provided just what the relaxed culture west of the Missouri often boasts of: a laid-back atmosphere with strong people. IMG_4944

With that thought in mind, we will link results for this event as soon as the powers that be release them. Word on the trail has it that a 12-year-old girl chicked a great deal of the male competitors and that the Aberdeen off-road bike star Craig Harrison won the long course. Considering the quality of athletes out west, none of this surprises us. Stay tuned for results.


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Brookings: I’m (Really) Ready for Summer Tri

Triathletes often toe the line between ambitious and crazy, though few actual voice this truth. In no other place was this fact more evident than at the I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon in Brookings this morning. Temperatures at race time hovered in the 40s, but the real concern coupled the low temps with the persistent April wind. Saturday’s gusts reached a peak of 34 miles per hour. That’s some serious resistance, folks.

If they didn’t understand the gravity of environmental hazards before the race, participants did once they listened to the pre-race meeting which included words like “signs of hypothermia” and “medical personnel available.” Kudos to the folks in Brookings who persisted in having a race but offered the necessary support to keep it as safe as possible. Additionally, participants had the option (which most of them took) to change into dry clothes after their swim. Word on the street is that even some of our fastest triathletes opted for the safety of dry clothes after the swim over a fast transition time.

Race favorite and the reigning king of triathlon west of the river Brandon Zelfer took home the big prize with a second place swim, first PhotoGrid_1462051158513place bike, and tied-for-first run. Zelfer’s tougher-than-nails (and bat-crazy) stamina is apparent through his apparel choices with his characteristics warm gear of mini gloves and a stocking cap. We’re just grateful he kept his kit zipped up. East River middle-age sensation Kevin Mitchell took second place overall. Documented evidence indicates that Mitchell even donned a shirt in light of the threat of hypothermia and may even be deviating from his traditional rat-trap pedals and be clipping in this year. Minnesotan David Jensen brought home third today. Jensen proved a person doesn’t have to be a top swimmer to be a top triathlete. After finishing 22nd in the swim he clawed his way to the podium with a stellar bike and swim.

Iowan Jennifer Groos surprised the locals by bringing home the women’s top prize. Groos had some impressive splits as well, besting dozens of men with her mean overall game. Local favorite and USAT age-group superstar Kathy Grady came home with second. Youngster Autumn Winkie of Sioux Falls rounded out the women’s podium.

Despite the uncomfortable conditions, some of our favorite triathletes managed to keep the crowds entertained. In particular Kimber Pierzchalski had her characteristic smile and wave on the run (when doesn’t she have fun?). Swim sensation Lisa Murphy graciously offered to forego the race experience to help the skeleton SDTriNews crew.  Because he hates to see anyone lose their opportunity to suffer to glory, the bearded photographer declined her offer.

Overall, the Brookings Tri, which we believe should be perpetually deemed the I’m REALLY Ready for Summer Tri, gave participants a fantastic experience. New signage made navigating the course easier than in the past, and volunteers abounded. The powers that be also made a DJ and some music available to add to the fun, party atmosphere. Congratulations race director Shari Landmark and staff on a solid event to start the South Dakota tri season.

Stay tuned to the Facebook page for race pictures.

The next event on South Dakota’s triathlon schedule is tomorrow, May 1 in Aberdeen. The Wolves Tri looks to be a bit less environmentally challenging and even more enjoyable than the Brookings Tri with an estimated temp in the 60s and winds under 10mph. Really, the weather can’t get much better in South Dakota this time of the year. We hope to see you all there!

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