Triathlon competitors test skills

A competitor begins at Saturday’s QUARQ Xterra Iron Creek Triathlon, held at Iron Creek south of Spearfish. One of the divisions featured a 1,000-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride, and 8-kilometer run. Pioneer photo by Jason Gross

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IRON CREEK — Michael Kloosterman has all of his gear in front of him before Saturday’s Quarq Xterra Iron Creek Triathlon, held at Iron Creek south of Spearfish. Items rest on a white towel spread out on the green grass.

Triathlon is a sport that combines swimming, bike riding, and running. Competitors in the full triathalon swam 1,000 meters, rode a bike for 20 kilometers, and ran for 8 kilometers.

The 33-year-old from Boulder, Colo., entered this race for the first time because it was the final event on the American Tour calendar. It marked the final chance to gain tour points.

“My (Saturday) goal is to finish well in my age group,” Kloosterman said. “I’m trying to win the Mountain Region in my age group so I can make a bid for the world championship in Maui.”

Kloosterman went into Saturday leading his age group. He finished second overall (first in his age group) in a New Mexico race the weekend before coming to Spearfish.

“I just think the community aspect is the best part,” Kloosterman said. “These races tend to benefit the local communities and stuff in a much more tangible way.”

This marks Kloosterman’s first off-road season, which he is really enjoying. “It’s a good, calm vibe, and everybody’s pretty nice,” he said.

Kloosterman said road triathlons include many competitors who are type-A personalities, which means many are on edge.

He weighed 260 pounds several years ago and started jogging. A three-year stretch found him competing in 18 marathons, and Kloosterman learned about triathlon through the marathon community.

“I started doing road triathlon and kind of fell in love,” said Kloosterman, who now weighs 170-175 pounds.  

Triathlon training for Kloosterman centers on consistency. He tries to do some type of activity every day, even if just for 30 minutes or so.

“My season started in May in Alabama,” Kloosterman said. “I’ve just kind of been going around the country.

“That’s the way I like to travel and see new places,” he said. This marks Kloosterman’s first trip to the Black Hills.

“It makes me better myself, and it gives me focus,” he said in describing triathlon’s appeal. “I just like the competitive aspect to the healthy lifestyle.”

Riding is Kloosterman’s favorite triathlon discipline. “You get to get really tech-y (technical) with the bikes and stuff,” he said.

Mountain bikes are new to Kloosterman, but he said they are modern technology and motion.

He is employed in construction management at Boulder. The stress reduction is one of the biggest triathlon pieces for him.

Kloosterman recalled his Alabama race in which he excelled in the swim and run, but the ride took him 3 1/2 hours because of four flat tires. He displayed his positive mental attitude when recalling the incident.

“It’s all just the way the cookie crumbles,” he said. “You’ve just got to make sure that when stuff happens, that you remember you’re out here to have fun.”

Andrew VanOsdol is a 35-year-old Spearfish resident who competed in the full triathlon. He moved here less than one year ago, so Saturday was his first Iron Creek event.

“I’ve done them before in the past, and they’re always a lot of fun,” he said.

VanOsdol has competed in five or six triathlons, with the bike ride being his favorite discipline. He enjoys the transition between the swim and bike, or the bike to the run.

 “It affects your muscles in a really interesting way,” he said in describing the transition. “When you get off and switch events, you really feel like a fish out of water for a while, so to speak.”

His workouts include transition exercises in which he swims, tries to get right out of the water, and get on the bike and ride.

VanOsdol’s triathlon started in college because of the swimming aspect. He said it gave him something new to do.

He is a surgeon at Spearfish Regional Hospital. That job brought him here from LaCrosse, Wis.

“I’ve never ridden any of these trails before, so I’m just kind of here to have fun today,” VanOsdol said of his Saturday goals.

For results of the triathlon, see Tuesday’s edition of the Black Hills Pioneer.

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