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Wednesday, March 04, 2015
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S.D. Triathlon Assoc. ready to take sport to next level
By Staff reports

April 02. 2014 9:47AM
The triathlon scene will look a lot different this year thanks to the launch of the South Dakota Triathlon Association. “Bigger races, better prizes, more fun – that’s what we’re all about,” said Marc Satter, president of the SDTA. “For years, the height of triathlon in South Dakota has been what it is at each individual race. Nobody has been advocating for the sport itself. We are here to change that and take the sport to new heights.”

The cornerstone of the organization’s launch is the introduction of the “SDTA Triathlon Series” in which participants are awarded points for each sanctioned event they participate in. According to Satter, the series will consist of about 10 events with the championship race being held at Ravine Lake in Huron on Aug. 9. The prize pool for the series will be over $3,000 with a top mens and women’s overall prize of $605 and is free to join for all SDTA members.

The competition won’t be limited to on the racecourse, either. The races themselves will be vying for the official title of “South Dakota’s Premier Triathlon” as voted on by SDTA members. The winning race will be announced after the triathlon season in the SDTA Newsletter, which will keep SDTA members up-to-date with all of the latest news, showcase athletes and sponsors, provide training and race tips, and much more. Furthermore, the SDTA is founding the South Dakota Triathlon Hall of Fame in which one member-nominated person will be inducted each year.

The SDTA is also making a big emphasis to recruit new people to the sport. “We want to show people the great physical, mental, and social benefits to taking up triathlon,” said Mathew Wollmann, vice president of the SDTA. “The biggest appeal for me was the ability to train for three sports instead of one. Like many people, I tend to get burned out when I focus on a specific activity for too long, so this lets me keep my training fresh and I notice that I enjoy all three activities more now.”

Another benefit to training for multiple sports is avoiding injury as well, according to Wollmann. “A lot of people, including myself, have knee issues which is a big hindrance for exercise but cross-training helps you become a better all-around athlete and avoid overuse injuries,” he said

Making the decision to do the first triathlon as easy as possible is of utmost importance to the SDTA, which is why they have a minimal registration fee to join. The SDTA will also hand out the “Newcomer of the Year” award specifically to someone who is new to triathlon. “The amount of people I’ve heard say they’ve always thought about doing a triathlon but haven’t is astounding. All these people need is a little encouragement,” said Satter.

“Get a hold of us,” said Wollmann, “we can be that little bit of encouragement.”

Satter said the formation of the Association came about through conversation.

“It’s one of those classic moments when you think to yourself ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we had this?’ ”

After further thought, ‘this’ culminated into the organization it is today.

“I really wanted to see my capabilities running an organization. Much like in triathlon, you don’t know what you are capable of until you dive right in head first,” Satter said. After making the decision, the first call Satter made was to recruit Wollmann who immediately jumped on board.

“I heard ‘triathlon association’ and immediately I was hooked. I didn’t even need to hear the details,” he said.

One of the first priorities established for the association was giving back to the community. The SDTA has teamed up with the St. Francis house to provide assistance to homeless individuals. “You hear stories of ‘couch-to-5K’ or people tackling their first triathlon, which is great, but here we’re talking about people going from homelessness to food and shelter and a path to making a living for themselves and their families” said Satter.

The two call it “humbling” to be able to positively impact South Dakota and not have to deal with the usual financial pressure of a new business. ”Making money is not the goal,” Satter said. “If I can encourage just one person to do their first triathlon and enjoy it and they stick with the sport, all of the many hours planning and organizing will have been worth it.” But that doesn’t mean the duo has low expectations for their first year of operation as Wollmann points out. “For years, the sport has been incrementally growing and getting better. Instead of continuing to slowly open the door to bigger and better things, we want to kick the door down,” he said.

Making a big impact is the goal of the organization but that doesn’t mean success will come easily. “We are jumping right into year four or five of similar athletic associations in a six-month timespan,” Wollmann said. “We fully expect have a few bumps in the road but that’s part of the learning process.”

Beyond the first year, the team has a multitude of ideas on ways to grow and enhance the sport. From real-time leaderboards to additional age divisions for young kids and high school youth to a team-based triathlon series to a live broadcasting at the event and online, the team has made it clear that if people want it, any idea is a possibility. But for now, the two are focused on 2014. “We couldn’t be more excited,” Wollmann said. “The SDTA is going to be huge.”

The South Dakota Triathlon Association was founded in 2013 and is South Dakota’s only organization dedicated to growing the sport of triathlon, recognizing and rewarding the best triathletes in the area, and creating a cohesive community of athletes, enthusiasts, and sponsors. More information can be found on their website,

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