Team BEEF running members Mary Pat Mullen (left) and Bobbie Bourk are all smiles after finishing the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Half Marathon in June and receiving complimentary Jack Links all-beef jerky compliments of South Dakota beef producers and the beef checkoff. The race was one of four sponsored by the Team BEEF program this summer.
More than 40 individuals combined their passion for running and beef this summer as members of South Dakota's first Team BEEF. Donning distinctive red running jerseys, Team BEEF participants helped spread the message that eating beef and exercise is a winning combination for good health. "Beef plays an important role in an overall healthful lifestyle, including weight control," says Briana Burgers, nutrition assistant with the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC). "A substantial body of evidence shows the nutrients in lean beef, such as protein, iron and B vitamins, help maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and fuel physical activity. When our Team BEEF members wear their jerseys and participate in these running events, they are advocates and role models for why lean beef is a smart food choice." Anne McCann was one of the Team BEEF members. This Brookings, S.D., dietitian decided to apply for a very personal reason. "Like many female runners, I've struggled in the past with iron deficiency anemia," says McCann. "Since beef is the best source of iron, I try to make it a regular part of my diet. As a registered dietitian, I'm a strong advocate of lean beef, especially for athletes. I was inspired to be a part of Team BEEF because I knew it would give me the opportunity to promote something that I'm so passionate about." At the beginning of the running season, McCann and the other Team BEEF members participated in a webinar providing scientific information on the role protein plays in the diet of an athlete-information they could share with other runners, family or friends. They received a Team BEEF jersey and $100 to help cover race entry fees. Members are asked to compete in at least two out of four events: the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon/Half Marathon, the Beef and Eggs Road Race in Brookings, and the Andy's Road Race in Huron and Sioux Falls Marathon/Half Marathon. "We had some Team BEEF members finish in the top five placing of their events," says Burgers. "That was awesome, but it's just as satisfying to see Team BEEF members cross that finish line when their goal was simply to complete the race." Team members are encouraged to stay active and wear their jerseys whether they're heading to their children's soccer games or taking their morning runs, said Burgers. "We want them to wear the heck out of that jersey," she said. "It's a great way to strike up a conversation about how beef is an important factor in a healthy lifestyle." McCann, who participated in the Deadwood and Sioux Falls' half marathons, said that as a dietitian, she talks with people about the importance of lean beef in a diet, especially when consulting athletes. She was also pleased with the response she received wearing the Team BEEF jersey during her races. "I was surprised by the number of strangers that would cheer me on when they saw my jersey. I even had a little boy yell 'I love beef' to me during the Sioux Falls Half Marathon. That made my day!" Burgers says SDBIC is pleased with the first year of the program. "It was an absolute success," she says, adding that there are already more than 20 applicants hoping to be a part of Team BEEF 2013. For more information on the program, or to apply, go to sdbeef.org and click on the Team BEEF logo.