Eureka: Where the Wind Comes Out to Play

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Local Xterra Legend Craig Harrison won the men’s short course.

The Lions Tri in Eureka took place Saturday, June 24 with all the charm that one of the oldest triathlons in the state can offer. So many things make this a great race. The event as a whole reminds older triathletes of the competitive, pure fun of the early races in this great sport’s beginning and introduces younger triathletes to the simplicity of the sport.

This race is really not that complicated and is downright nostalgic. Step into the pristine waters of Lake Eureka and move your way toward the nearest triathlete. Wait for the shotgun start, and then swim to your designated buoy (the close one for the short course and the far one for the long course). Turn around at your buoy and swim back to the sturdiest bike racks in the state (they stood up under gale-force winds last year). Wheel your bike out to where you think you can ride, then ride west. Turn around at the first orange cone if you’re doing the short course, wait until the orange second cone if you’re doing the long course. Thank the guy standing at the cone serving water. Ride your bike back to the rack. Run out of the park, turn left, and then just keep going east until you see an orange cone. Turn left until you see another orange cone. Thank the nice man and his wife who are serving water. Turn left again when you see the third orange cone. Turn left one more time at the fourth orange cone, and then sprint your way to the race director and his worker holding the stopwatch who are cheering for every last racer at the finish line, a spray-painted line on the asphalt. (If you’re doing the long course, keep going and do that run course one more time.)

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Nikki Troxell won the women’s short course.

Triathletes in Eureka once again battled their arch nemesis. No, not only did the North Dakotans show up, but so did the wind. (The North Dakotans are pretty nice not to mention super fast.) Unseasonably low temperatures paired with a stiff west wind greeted the athletes and their adoring fans (our own photographer claimed he would never feel warm again after this event).

Top athletes received more than just the pride of being the Lions Tri champ. Again, the race staff here understand the pride of the triathlete and the desire to have something to show for his or her accomplishment, so the winners received the biggest trophies we’ve seen in the state for triathlon. Seriously, this is heavy hardware. Second place in each division received a schnazzy medal.

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North Dakota speedster Marnie Walth won the women’s long course handily.

Local standouts and famed North Dakotans showed up for this race. In particular, 88-year-old former governor Frank Farrar took a break from his media tour to compete after capturing a gold medal at the Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama and flew in to compete in Eureka. One of the locals gave Frank a ride in from the airport. The folks up there are that nice.

Local Xterra standout Craig Harrison used his superior biking skills to dominate the competition in the short course and run away with the overall win. Harrison earned the trophy for the 40-over division, and Clay Danielson from Aberdeen took first for the 39-under men. Nikki Troxell took first for the women overall. Troxell took first for the women’s 39-under division, and Annette DeForest of North Dakota took first for the women’s 40-over division.

Josh Carlson took first for the men’s long course and first in the 39-under division. Justin Smith of Fargo took first for the men’s 40-over division. Marnie Walth (one of those nice North Dakotans we met) used a strong bike and run to win the women’s overall long course as well as the 40-over division. One of short-course winner Craig Harrison’s training partners, Hannah Carlson (Josh’s studly wife), took first for the women’s 39-under division.

The trio of Samantha Raile, David Roggenkamp, and Jennifer Beck captured first place in the team division. Roggenkamp does much of the footwork for this race as the long-time race director. His participation illustrated not just his dedication to the event but also his personal mettle as he has been fighting cancer for the past year and a half. We loved seeing Roggenkamp on the course. (Incidentally, the screen printer thinks he’s pretty amazing too. She managed to somehow sneak his name into the bike track of this year’s shirt logo).

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Local Aberdeen teacher Josh Carlson inspired his students one more time, this time by winning the men’s long course.

We cannot emphasize enough what an asset this race is to the northern triathlon scene. It’s a fun place to compete against and just meet triathletes that don’t visit the southeastern or western part of the state. The event takes place across from the famed Kuchen Factory as well as the host hotel. Plus, like we said, it’s just good, old-fashioned fun (despite the wind).

The South Dakota tri scene will take a break next weekend but will rev back up for July with the Hy-vee Mini Triathlon at Lake Kampeska Tri (register here) in Watertown on July 8 and the Outland Challenge at Lake Cochrane on July 15 (register here). Incidentally, Bismarck will be holding their famed BisMan Triathlon at Harmon Lake (check it out here) on July 8 as well, giving northerners a nice choice of events. We look forward to seeing you all out there tackling the water and road in two weeks.

Thanks for a great event, Eureka. There are very few races out there like yours. Continue to check the SDTriNews page on Facebook for photos. We will be posting them throughout the next several days (after the photographer warms up).

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Eureka: Simple, Small-town Fun

eurekaThe folks in Eureka, South Dakota burst with pride for their community. And who wouldn’t. The little town on the prairie has a beautiful lake in the heart of the community, a kuchen factory, and one of our favorite triathlons in the state.

The 2017 Eureka Lions Triathlon will take place on Saturday, June 24 at 8:30 am at the Lake Eureka Beach area. We visited this race last year to see what the hubbub was all about up north, and we received some of the best hospitality that northern South Dakota has to offer. Here’s what we discovered:

  • Two distances: The race has a sprint distance of 1/4 mile swim, 12-mile bike, and 3-mile run; and a long distance of 1/2 mile swim, 24-mile bike, and 6-mile run. The bike course takes participants out and back on a recently refinished black top surface that was as smooth as glass last year. The run gives participants a nice tour of the area around the lake as they complete a perfect rectangle back to the start. The swim is in Lake Eureka, one of the cleanest lakes we’ve visited in our state.
  • Small-town charm: from the shotgun start to the guy with the stopwatch taking times, this race has some great small-town charm that takes older participants back to the days of yore when triathlon was pure friendly competition and less schwag. shot gun start
  • Schwag: despite the quaint feel, the race offers participants a unique t-shirt sporting the triathlon logo of the year, and the overall male and female winners of each distance receive some hefty hardware with the biggest trophy we’ve seen for triathlon in the state.
  • New competition: with the far north location, this race draws in some pretty speedy triathletes from the Bismarck area. As a result, those who race against the same spandex-clad competitors each race may find this event worth their time to travel up north just to test their mettle against the friendly nemeses from the north.
  • The price: because Eureka likes to keep things low key, they have kept a steady, low price. Pre-registration is $25, and race-day registration is $30. No race in the state boasts of a lower fee than this one.

Eureka’s triathlon is one of the oldest in the state, and the folks up there know how to run an event. They have custom bike racks that hold steady even with gale-force winds (which we’re confident will stay at bay this year). Additionally, because of its far north location, temps typically stay low for this race. If you’re free this weekend, check out this race. You’ll get to see parts of the state that few see, with rolling prairie, and you too can check out what Eureka is all about.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

SDTrinews.com 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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Dakotaman at Wall Lake: Open Water & One Fun Race

wall lake park picDakotaman at Wall Lake, one of South Dakota’s most attended triathlon will take place this coming Saturday, June 17 at 8 am at the Wall Lake Park. (register here)

“Registration numbers are looking really good so far–about 140 adults and kids,” states race director Kathy Grady. As sprint races typically go, registration numbers will most likely go up even more this week as the pleasant forecast solidifies and triathletes feel that urge to test their mettle.

The course will follow its traditional distances and routes of a 500-yard out-and-back swim in Wall Lake with a timed wave start, a 15-mile out-and-back bike course on the gently rolling hills near the lake, and a 5K out-and-back run along the shore of the lake.

With Scheels as its primary sponsor, this race promises some pretty hefty schwag and stakes. Every participant will receive the traditional t-shirt with the one-of-a-kind Dakotaman logo on it along with a $10 Scheels gift card. The overall male and female winners will receive a $100 Scheels gift card, and the top three finishers in each age group will receive a $25, $15, or $10 gift card respectively along with a medal commemorating their achievements.

Everyone will receive bragging rights and the title of being a Dakotaman after competing in the greatest sport on earth.

The winning team will receive a medal and a $45 Scheels gift card.

The Kids’ Race will take place as the adults’ race winds down. Dakotaman has three different divisions and distances for each age group:

  • 8-10 year old: shore swim 50 yards, bike 1 mile, run 1/2 mile
  • 9-11 year old: shore swim 100 yards, bike 2 miles, run 3/4 mile
  • 12-14 year old: shore swim 200 yards, bike 4 miles, run 1 mile

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The after-party promises to provide participants some great replenishment with pork sandwiches, chips, and cookies from Eileen’s bakery & Breadsmith. After all, who doesn’t like to rub the sweaty shoulder of the guy you just crushed. The food will give triathletes one more reason to stick around and hang out with the tri-family.

Despite the hefty competition, first-time triathletes often find Dakotaman to be the perfect place to compete with a copious amount of helpful volunteers.  We obviously think its a pretty great race too.

We look forward to seeing you all there. We’ll be there with the cameras, bright yellow shirts, and even better media coverage than before.

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The MAC Tri: Where Organizers Turn Lemons into Lemonade

PhotoGrid_1497125222296The MAC Triathlon organizers received some pretty stinky news just three days before the MAC Tri this past Saturday: their swimming venue was no longer safe for swimmers. So they had two options: cancel the swim, turning their triathlon into a duathlon and risk losing participants OR find a completely new venue.

Enter the City of Mitchell’s Rec Department. Three days later the event took place with a completely new venue including a different bike and run route. And participants loved it.

The MAC Tri took place Saturday, June 10 at the Mitchell Aquatic Center (results are here). Participants swam 500 meters (5 laps in the 50-meter pool) snake-swim fashion, and then biked 14 miles in an all-right-hand-turn course and ran a 5K through the flat, shady neighborhood near the aquatic center. Triathletes conquered some tough conditions with gale-force winds threatening to scoot their bikes off the road and then increasing heat on the run.

No one likes criticism, but since the inception of the MAC tri two years ago, MAC tri organizers have responded positively to  pieces of advice from the seasoned triathletes who have competed in their race. This year’s event produced a gem in the making on the South Dakota triathlon scene. Here’s the lowdown:

  • The course: despite having 24 hours to solidify a course, organizers found bike and run routes that worked. They kept the bike course to a right-hand-turn-only course and kept participants mostly on quiet, smooth, country roads with some challenging hills. Participants had no problems navigating both the bike and run course with simple rectangles to follow, clear markings, and helpful volunteers. Additionally, the organizers had ice cold water at the finish line and at both miles one and two on the run. With heat like what Saturday brought, athletes needed the aid. 1I9A9882
  • The post-race atmosphere: Caribou coffee. Need we say more? To be serious, as the primary race sponsor Caribou Coffee & Einstein Bagels set the bar  for races in South Dakota (and promised to come back next year). They provided participants with fruit, bagels & schmear, and cold press coffee & cream even before the race started. Then once participants had caught their breath, they had the best post-race meal we’ve ever seen with bagel sandwiches (turkey, ham, and chicken salad), chips, and cookies. Additionally, a sound system with great music kept participants and spectators in great spirits from early in race set up until well after the last participant crossed the finish line.
  • The schwag: all participants receive not only a t-shirt with one of our favorite logos in the state but also a really nice participants’ medal. The top three men and women each received a quality trophy as well.

Some super speedy triathletes crushed the new MAC course (effectively setting records): Ryan Remmers of Watertown used his amazing bike skills to top the men’s podium, with the fleet-footed Lance Bergeson coming in second. Local talent Cameron Deinert of Mt Vernon took third place quite handily.

For the women Teresa Van Hyfte use a well-balanced attack to crack the overall podium, winning the women’s race and taking third overall. The always stylish Jonette Murphy made her trip across the state from Rapid City well worth the miles by taking home the second-place trophy. Lisa Murphy of Tea used her Michael Phelps-like swimming skills and overall great tri-experience to capture third place.

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A huge kudos goes out to the crew in Mitchell including Lacey Musick, Emily Hohn, and (one of our favorite triathletes) Marty Takagi along with the rest of the MAC Tri steering committee for not only putting on a great race but also responding so well to feedback of past triathletes. The resulting event rivals (and may even top) the other local races on the South Dakota tri scene. Congratulations to all of the triathletes who conquered the wind and heat!

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