A group of Siouxland biking, running and swimming enthusiasts have formed an organization as they train in the sometimes lonely sport known as triathlon.
They recognize many people who first participate in triathlons do so out of prodding or advice from established triathletes, so SUX Tri Club was created in late spring 2009. Members Will Meier of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, and Deric Redmond of Jefferson, S.D. noted the Missouri River Runners Club is in existence for Siouxlanders, and there are triathlon clubs in Sioux Falls and Omaha, so the time was ripe for SUX Tri Club.
There are a lot of Siouxlanders now in the club who thought they were pursuing the sport, which came to national consciousness in the 1980s, in solitary fashion, Meier said.
"You feel like you out there by yourself doing it," Meier said. "As we get organized, we are finding out, wow, there are a lot of people that are like me, that are exercising me and kind of living this lifestyle. It is truly a lifestyle."
Meier, who did his first triathlon in 1991, is a juvenile probation officer and Redmond is a financial consultant, and the club members are a mixture of professions, ages, gender and talent level. The youngest is a middle-school boy, one man joined after losing 80 pounds. Some race to win, others just to reach the goal of finishing a triathlon. Even the "sprint" triathlons typically take a good hour to complete.
"Part of the club is, 'Hey, you can do this.' Come out, try, and what we will do for a person who has never done (a triathlon), we'll assign them a mentor or a coach, and they will take them all the way through their first event," Meier said.
Said Redmond, "It can be intimidating. It is a three-discipline sport. Some people don't think they are very strong runners, the swimming aspect seems to be the most intimidating for everybody. But almost every one of us has had that feeling, whether it be intimidated from the beginning or from an Olympic distance, a half Ironman or Ironman."
The first big triathlon that several club members attended was on June 13 in Lawrence, Kan. for a half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run, 70.3 miles total), and many then went to the Hy-Vee Triathlon outside Des Moines later in June that drew thousands of spectators.
Many of the SUX Tri Club members train primarily on their own, but the club holds a few workouts weekly for as many as can attend. One was held Friday near Salix, Iowa, with a swim in Brown's Lake and then biking around the area. Some club practices have included 50-mile bike rides on some challenging hills north of Sioux City or over at McCook Lake in South Dakota. The training time for members runs from about five to 20 hours per week, Meier said, while he has four days per week where he trains in two of the disciplines.
Redmond said he enjoys triathlons since they get him outdoors, promote health in an age of couch potatoes and he gets to meet like-minded people with positive outlooks on life.
Meier is targeting a half Ironman in October in Austin, Texas. And with the surge of enthusiasm the club aspect has given him, he's mulling undertaking his first full Ironman in 2010.
"For a lot of us, it's completing something that we started, putting a plan down, getting educated," Meier said, while learning about the body's limits and how to eat nutritiously.
"Out of that, we become better people. The self-confidence that comes out of doing it, I think, carries into other areas of life."
Thus far, there is no fee to be in the SUXTri Club, although a nominal fee will be charged in the near future. Three sponsors (Albrecht Cycle Shop, Science Nutrition and Peak Performance) are on board with the club, offering members discounts on exercise equipment.