Sioux Falls Marathon and Half Marathon :: Past Stories

Past Stories


#ShareAStory with Coca-Cola 


Read from our archived collection of Sioux Falls Marathon stories from runners across time and the globe.


Name: Frank Bartocci

Title: Marathon Monster Ready to Run Sioux Falls

Date: In preparation for the 2016 Marathon

Many marathon runners have a race or two that they will never forget, for a multitude of reasons. Some will never forget the first race they completed. Some may never forget the race where they suffered a significant injury. Frank Bartocci will never forget the Dallas White Rock Marathon back in 1983.

Yes, it was his first marathon, but no, that’s not the reason why that race is cemented in his brain. Bartocci dedicated that race to the person who inspired him to run, his son Matthew, who had Cystic Fibrosis. “I started running to help manage the stresses of life and work and to be a role model to my son,” Bartocci said. “It’s a blessing that I’m able to run, so I push myself to run for those who can’t. I find that the tougher (the run) is, the bigger the challenge, the greater the opportunity for me to confront adversity, to manage and overcome and maybe grow in the process.”

The Dallas White Rock Marathon unleashed a running monster in Bartocci. The Rochester, Minnesota native has completed over 700 marathons and is nationally ranked in the top 10 in the United States. Bartocci, who’s 68, is attempting to run 100 marathons this year, and by the start of the Sioux Falls Marathon in September, he’ll have already run 65 marathons in 2016. If Bartocci can achieve his goal of 100 marathons in a year, he’ll have run over 800 marathons, another goal he set for himself. “I had achieved all my goals as of the end of last year, so now what?” Bartocci said. “What else am I supposed to do with myself?”

The Sioux Falls Marathon will be the second of nine marathons in nine days for Bartocci. He’ll run a marathon in Wisconsin the day before the Sioux Falls Marathon, and then he’s onto Montana. “I think and hope that I’m strong enough to do it without injury. Temporary discomfort is expected, but time will tell,” Bartocci said.

Bartocci has ran a marathon in all 50 states eleven different times, and well on his way to twelve times with only three states to go by the time he races in Sioux Falls.

At 68 years old Bartocci doesn’t plan on hanging up the running shoes anytime soon. He’s driven by the thought of continuing to run with his extended running family, as well as honoring his son, Matthew, who died six years ago.  “When I look in the mirror, I wonder, who is that old guy? Where did he come from? I certainly don’t feel (old),” Bartocci said. “You gotta’ squeeze all that juice out of the grape, until you’re a raisin.”

Name: Tammy Hofer

Title: Sioux Falls Marathon to Boston Marathon

Date: Preparing for the 2015 Sioux Falls Marathon

I first got a taste for running in elementary school during our end of the school year rally day. I always chose to run the 50-meter dash, the 100-meter dash, and the shuttle run. Little did I know, that was the start of a long running career, which is still ongoing. Once I hit the 7th grade, I was able to go out for organized school sports. In the fall, I went out for basketball and ran cross-country. During the winter season, I played volleyball and in the spring, I went out for track & field. I always looked forward to the spring as I really enjoyed track and field due to all the different events that you could participate in. As I finished my 7th grade year and entered my 8th grade year, I was asked to run/play on the varsity squads. This was a great opportunity for me to show what I could do on the court, as well as on the cross-country courses and track. 

As I entered my high school sports career at Freeman Public, I really grew to liking cross-country and track. As I became more competitive in these sports, the more I enjoyed them. However, I was stopped in my tracks at one point in my freshman cross-country season. I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma, which really slowed me down. There were times where I was unable to finish a race and it was very discouraging. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, which led to me panicking at times, which would trigger an attack. I really struggled with my freshman year of cross-country and didn’t even want to go out for track. 

After I decided to continue running track, I was waiting to run at the Howard Wood Relays and my mother walked up to me and told me we had to go. I had no idea what was going on. As I entered the Ramkota Events Center, I saw Track & Field Olympian, Jackie Joyner-Kersee sitting there! She was my idol when I was younger. I loved watching her compete as she was a heptathlete and a true, hard-nosed competitor. She, like I, has exercise-induced asthma. After listening to her speak that day, I gained a lot of confidence that I could compete at a high level, even given my diagnosis. As I continued to compete in high school, I grew into having a deep passion for running and was successful in both cross-country and track.

After graduating from high school, I went on to run at the University of South Dakota. I specialized in the middle distances, specifically the 800 meter run. I was very fortunate to have coaches at USD that believed in me and saw that I had some potential to run well on the track. In the spring of 2001, I qualified to run the 800 (2:12 PR) meters at the Division II Outdoor National Track Meet where I finished 15th. It was an amazing experience.

I knew once college was over, I had to keep running. As an athlete, it is hard to walk away from something that you love doing, especially when you love to compete. In the spring of 2003, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to run the Deadwood Half Marathon. I thought he was crazy as I had never run over 8 miles at one time before. My first half marathon was brutal. I didn’t train very properly and I walked away saying never again. However, as runners know, running is addicting once you get started, so here I am 9 half marathons later (1;33.1 PR), numerous 5K’s and 10K’s under my belt, one sprint triathlon, and a few Irishman races. I am still running and loving every minute. 

I attempted running one marathon a few years ago, (4:15) but I struggled so I want to try it again. I was disappointed in my time and know I can do better. I have learned a lot since my first half marathon experience about how you train to run longer distances, so I hope I am better prepared this time around. Training for a marathon is tough, especially with 3 young children at home. You have to battle the heat, humidity, and all the physical, emotional, and mental games the longer distances play with you, but with the help of my family and friends and their ongoing encouragement, it is time to tackle 26.2 again.  

If I could give any advice to a person who is new to running and just starting out, go slow. If you have to start with a walk/run approach, that is totally fine. In the last two years, I have helped my oldest sister through two half marathons, my other sister is preparing to run her first Miracle 5K this year, and a friend of mine finished the Deadwood Marathon this past June. I love being able to talk and guide people through running and encouraging them to do something that they didn’t think was possible. 

As a physical education teacher and high school track coach, I love to help kids stay healthy and active. It is awesome when your students and athletes come and talk to you about their PR’s, what they have done in the off season to get prepared, and the goals they have set for themselves. It is my hope that they share the same passion as I do for running when they get older. Running is a great way to stay healthy and provides you with such a sense of accomplishment when you reach the finish line. 


Name: Chris Riley

Title: Running is a Team Sport

Date: Remembering his 2014 Sioux Falls Marathon

On a cool Sunday morning in September 2012 I lined up at Howard Wood Field to run in my first Sioux Falls Half Marathon. I had run a handful of halves by this point and growing up in Sioux Falls I ran countless miles on the bike trail greenway and lap after lap around Howard Wood’s track while competing for Washington High School and later Mount Marty College. As the gun went off and I settled in near the front of the pack I was a bit alarmed as each mile clicked off at a pace a little faster than I thought I could sustain. Luckily, it was one of those days that only runners can describe, where everything feels fluid and effortless. It is the type of day that is rare in training but you can only dream of having during a race. I never slowed from the early faster than usual pace and crossed the line with a three-minute personal record, running the 13.1 miles in just over 1:18 to place 10th out of over 1,000 runners. I had won races before and since, but that performance three years ago is still something I am trying to return to.

Fast forward two years to September of last year and I competed the half for the second time, nearly 50 minutes slower. I could not have been any more thrilled with the result.

That is because last year I completed the Sioux Falls Half Marathon as part of a two-person team with my young friend Karl Madsen. Karl and I met a number of years ago when he was a family camper where I worked during the summers throughout college at Lutheran’s Outdoors camp near Custer. Although his mobility and speech were hampered by a traumatic brain injury he suffered as small boy, Karl is full of life and is more active and enthusiastic than almost any other middle school student you’d meet.

The idea of pushing Karl in his wheelchair throughout the half so he could join me in the competition was something born out of the legendary Team Hoyt from the Boston area. I had seen some videos and read stories about the father and son duo and their running and triathlon and other athletic accomplishments. Knowing how vibrant Karl is and how strongly his mother Anna advocates for her son’s inclusion in “normal” events (although a half marathon might not be considered all that normal for some) I figured they would be open to the idea of Karl and me running the race together.

So that is exactly what we did. We did not use Karl’s normal wheelchair but the chair we had was not exactly made for running either. I knew we could survive 13 miles; I just wanted to make sure that Karl would remain comfortable and that we would stay out of the way of other runners.

We lined up towards the very back of the pack – a welcomed change from my usual up-front “sizing up the competition” ritual. Once the gun went off we slowly made our way around the 3/4ths of a lap before heading out onto the streets and bike trail of Sioux Falls.

Immediately numerous other runners and spectators were offering Karl and me encouragement and kudos – with many other runners coming over to give Karl a high-five or pat on the back which he was loving. We were able to see friends and family and familiar faces throughout the course – including my high school and college coaches - and although downtown Sioux Falls is much hillier than I previously remembered, we were making decent time and staying competitive in the back half of the pack.

Aside from keeping a slower pace than normal I really did not notice any differences in running the race with Karl aside from the fact that I was getting the greatest core workout of my life. My midsection was absolutely searing throughout the final 2-3 miles of the race but there was so much crowd support and the excitement of fellow runners knowing how close to the finish we were made those final miles fly by in an instant. At last we were crossing the finish line and as I gave Karl the race medal and bib number his ever-present smile that morning grew even larger across his face. There was no question that we would try this again sometime.

I guess the next logical step for me was to see if Karl would be interested in giving the full marathon a shot. Sioux Falls is his home and where I grew up and the fact that the city has this growing and well-run event (no pun intended) made it an easy choice to decide for our first full marathon together. The plan once again is to survive the distance and to make sure Karl remains comfortable and gets to let his competitive side take over for the morning. Running with Karl is a terrific escape for me from the “train to win” philosophy that we can get so wrapped up in and is a way for me to bring the joy of running back to the very basic reasons that I love to be outside and active and among like-minded people.

If this is your first half marathon or marathon just know that no matter what, keep moving! I’ve had some great races and I’ve had some horrible ones and everything in between, but all races will come to an end, but your feeling of accomplishment and achievement will stay with you forever. If you are a veteran runner, stay within yourself but at the same time get after your goals. As a former coach would say, “ride the roller coaster” out there. The lows might be bad but nothing in the world can match the feeling of the highs. See you on the run!


Name: Steven Burdick

Title: Family Running

Date: Recalling his first marathon at the 2011 Sioux Falls Marathon


My high school coach once told me that running a marathon is a great experience, but wait till you are older. I did not think much of it at the time; I’m not even sure if I knew the exact marathon distance to be honest. Since the 7th grade, when I began running cross country for the Huron Tigers, I’ve competed in many running events and even some triathlons.

However, running faded out of my life when I was juggling my career and busy life style. I met a wonderful, Texas girl who became my wife; we moved to Sioux Falls and had two beautiful daughters, Carolyne and Abigail. When the girls were infants we had a running stroller, it worked great in the grass at the parks. However, running and pushing the stroller felt awkward to me. How and when would I get the desire back? Did I get tired of running? I don’t think so.

In the spring of 2010 my wife enrolled our oldest daughter Carolyne into the ‘Girls on the Run’ program. It is a 10 week program that teaches young girls about life skills and culminates with a confidence building a 5k run. Parents are allowed to participate in the 5k with their daughters and I was excited to run it with mine. Although we had a great run, I realized I was not in my best running shape. It was at this point I finally got back into the sport.

That summer running was part of my daily lifestyle again and I signed up for my first half marathon in Sioux Falls. I had a goal in mind of just breaking two hours. Prior to the half marathon, the longest race I had ever participated in was a 10 miler back in high school. I achieved my goal by coming in at 1:48:57. I was so pleased I immediately signed up for another half marathon in Fargo for the following spring. I ran outside all winter (just as I do today) preparing for it. 

The night before that race in May 2011, I attended a lecture by Matt Long. He spoke of his training and what it took for him to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I’m thinking, ‘I don’t have plans to run Boston let alone 26.2 miles.’  Matt also spoke of the serious accident he was involved in and how to overcome the road to recovery, no matter what the odds are against you. He never ran that Boston Marathon he qualified for, but he made it back to running a marathon and doing an Ironman race. He had a message and it was worth listening to. My wife bought his book, “Long Run”, for me and I suggest this book to any runner doubting themselves. It made me consider what I thought was impossible. While waiting for my half marathon to begin the next morning, I watched the excitement as the marathoners took off, and thought ‘maybe I can do it.’ I finished that half marathon in 1:47:08, similar to Sioux Falls the previous fall.

After Fargo, and reading Mr. Long’s book I made the commitment and signed up for my first marathon (Sioux Falls in September 2011).  I ran all summer, with my longest distance being 18 miles, and thought I was prepared for 26.2.  I toed the line in 4:16:49 and thought ‘REALLY?!’ Not what I hoped for. Not what I predicted. I started reading ‘Runners World’ for tips on how to improve and began to train throughout the winter to run the Fargo Marathon in May 2012.  When I showed up to that race I was in great shape, injury free and finished in an astounding 3:13:12.  It was over an hour off my previous time and I was elated. I even ran the Fargo 5k the night before. My family was surprised.  I finally thought of myself as a marathoner for the first time and realized Boston was achievable. 

What I accomplished between those two marathons was the difference in just running and training to run.  There is a difference and I experienced it myself. It would not be until my 7th marathon that I finally qualified for Boston. October 2013 I ran 3:13:37 (40-45age) in Omaha, NE. My wife and kids were the first to congratulate me on being a Boston Marathon qualifier. That race and time got me into the 119th BostonMarathon in April 2015, and it would be an amazing experience. It’s a whole story in itself.

Since Carolyne’s first ‘Girls on the Run 5k’ I have competed in 14 marathons (having achieved three 3:13’s), 2 half marathons and countless 5k’s and 10k’s. And even though I made it to Boston (a very exciting time) my running had an unexpected affect. The best part of all this running is my whole family involved. My wife Sarah once said she’s tired of standing on the sidelines. She and my daughters now participate in the marathon events with me. They do the short races (5k’s and even 10k’s) but it’s great that we now do them as a family. The girls, now 14 and 10, have ran 5k’s on their own through the ‘Girls on the Run’ programs, school cross country and other road races. We have enjoyed many events together over the last 5 years and I look forward to cheering them on and achieving their accomplishments in the years to come.

I completed one huge goal and now have my sights on new ones. My new goals are reaching 50 marathons, breaking the elusive 3:10:00, and coaching others. As you begin your marathon quest take it slow and don’t rush it. With time you will see your goals achieved, your distance lengthened, and your times improved. Pushing it too fast and quick only leads to injury. I want to see new healthy runners make it to the starting line, and to witness their goals achieved at the finish line, no matter the distance or time. Running is a healthy lifestyle and great for families.

I will be running my 5th Sioux Falls Marathon this fall. I am looking forward to the new course and hope for a new PR of 3:09:59. If not I will keep going till I chase it down.