Posted by: Dennis Green | September 21, 2014

CyMan 2014 – ‘Thar She Blows

By Dennis Green

Heart of America News

2014-09-21 10.48.15


That was Joe McGrath’s one-word assessment of CyMan, held Sept. 21 at Kinney Park near Bondurant, Iowa.

The morning dawned cool and clear, but as race time neared, the breeze picked up, gusting a steady 20 mph through the entire race. The wind caused scenic but pocket-sized Lake Petocka to have something we don’t often see in Iowa’s small, land-locked lakes: Whitecaps.

“I made that first turn in the swim right into the wind,” said Ron Ottaway, “and it was like I was standing still. I couldn’t get a glide going at all.”

A windy swim can be difficult enough, but fighting a headwind on the bike really makes a triathlon challenging, and most participants agreed the wind amped things up considerably.

But the CyMan run course ends with a half-mile loop around the lake, one of the prettiest finishes in any midwest triathlon, so by the time people crossed the finish line, most were smiling again.

2014 was the first year CyMan offered an Olympic as well as a sprint distance, mainly to provide an opportunity for collegiate racers to gain points. Kris Spoth of White Bear Lake, Minnesota edged Best Dam Triathlon champ Joshua Madson of North Liberty for the men’s overall crown. Anne Hilleman from Huxley won the women’s race. Collegiate division winners were Samuel Kohll of Omaha, and Malorie Gaber from the host Iowa State team.

The HOA Champions Wave

The HOA Champions Wave

The Sprint race once again served as the Championship race for the Heart of America series, with 21 series points champs racing for series crown. Both the men’s and women’s winners raced in the Champions wave, David Roney from Ankeny and Elaina Mertens from Dubuque.

The Heart of America Series uses an age-equalization formula developed by USA Track and Field to weight the different ages, and once those weightings were applied, the Champions wave looked like this:







  1. Kim Sprenger2014-09-21 13.13.03
  2. Elaina Mertens
  3. Ann Vestle
  4. Kathryn Cater
  5. Pat Kenel


  1. Guy Olson
  2. Ron Ottaway
  3. David Roney
  4. Jason Rabe
  5. Dan Tucker

Full Cyman results are at this link. Heart of America Series results are here.


Posted by: Heart of America News | September 16, 2014

2014 Heart of America Champions Wave!

hoaSMThirty-four winners of the 2014 Heart of America (HOA) Championship series have the opportunity to race for the Championship crown Sunday, Sept. 21 at Cyman.

Throughout the season, all athletes who participate in an HOA race get points for each race they do. At the end of the season, we recognize the top three overall point winners, top masters, and first place in each age group. The more you race, regardless to some extent, of where you place, the higher your potential standings.

Each HOA champ gets the opportunity to race in the Champions wave. The top five athletes in the wave, in both male and female divisions, win free entries to HOA races in 2015

Participants of any age could claim the top prize, as times are age-adjusted according the formula used by U.S. Track & Field.

Heart of America points earned by Cyman participants this year will count toward series points next year.

Here are the champions!

Female Overall:
  • Kim Sprenger
  • Patricia Kenel
  • Kathryn Cater
Male Overall:
  • Guy Olson
  • Chad Goldsmith
  • Craig Goldsmith


  • Ann Vestle
  • Joe McGrath

19 & Under:

  • Meghan Hackett
  • Sam Lundry


  • Anna Moynihan
  • David Roney


  • Elaina Mertens
  • Adam Kassem


  • Joanna Hall
  • Jason Rabe


  • Janae Gross
  • Lane McMullen


  • Melissa Clow
  • Mathieu Cagnard


  • Jody Rausch
  • Jason Aarhus


  • Tami Fiala
  • Ted Olson


  • Belinda Gee
  • Richard Wyss


  • Clara Decoster
  • Dan Tucker


  • Vida Luth
  • Lynn Vogt


  • Sandy Campbell
  • Fred Hemsath


  • Ron Ottaway


  • Lyle Roberts
Posted by: Dennis Green | September 15, 2014

Best Race By A Dam Site

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by Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News

Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon welcomed over 300  athletes on a cool September morning. Held in the shadow of the Coralville Dam, the race attracts a large contingent of college racers, looking to move up in collegiate standings, in addition to local and regional athletes.

The race is also the final points event for the Heart of America series, so many series regulars were there to pile up a few more points prior to next week’s Heart of America championship at CyMan.

Joshua Madsen of North Liberty made it two in a row, winning the Men’s Sprint race for the second year. Bluff Creek Champ Adam Kassem took second. Elaina Mertens of Dubuque won the women’s race, with Kim Sprenger of Iowa City just a minute behind. Second place will probably be good enough for Kim to repeat as the Heart of America points champ in 2014.

Many of the nation’s top collegiate triathletes raced the Olympic distance, also the standard for college competition. Heading into the day, Wisconsin’s Robbie Greco was looking to stay atop the collegiate leaderboard, but could only manage second place to Brian Gorman of Minnesota.

On the women’s side , it was also a good day for the Gophers, as Jessica Finley took the crown.

In the Olympic open competition, Anna Kropornicka, a native of Poland attending the University of Wisconsin, won the women’s race. Brent Fiegel of Buffalo, Iowa, won among the men.

Full results at JMS racing’s results area on, where you can also check the final Heart of America standings when they are posted early next week.

Posted by: Dennis Green | September 10, 2014

Best Damn Tri 2014 Is Set and Ready

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

2013-09-08 09.24.06Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon 2014 is set to live up to its reputation, says Race Director Michael Considine.

The IBDT, says Considine, is a popular race for collegiate triathletes, competitors in the Heart of America series, and newcomers to the sport. Considine expects to see lots of inter-collegiate racers from around the Midwest return to represent their schools. The Best Dam Tri is also the second-to-last race in the Heart of America series and the final chance for HOA competitors to move up in the standings. With such a strong field at all levels, expect some seriously fast times.

Racers take to the course Sunday, September 14 at Coralville Reservoir near Iowa City, Iowa. Start time is set for 8:00am for both the Sprint (500-yard swim, 10-mile bike, 5k run) and Olympic (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) distances. The bike course is especially scenic, crossing the Coralville dam which gives the race its name.

According to Considine, race conditions look very good. “The lake is in great shape,” he says. “I was a little concerned about the bike course for a while. Last week they’d put down new surface on a section of the road.” But, he explains, as traffic continues to compact the new tarmac, that stretch of the course is looking better and better. “Everything is coming together nicely,” says Considine.

Late-season races always come with the worry of unpredictable weather. Considine, though, is confident that the current weather patterns will hold out. At last check, he says, the forecast calls for a beautifully sunny, 67-degree day.

This is Considine’s first year as race director of Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon. And while new to this race, he is no novice to the sport. He’s currently the president of the TriHawks Triathlon Club and comes to the race with an impressive resume of numerous other events, including the Warrior Challenge a four-mile urban obstacle race held each spring in Iowa City.

“It’s a little different putting together a triathlon,” Considine says, “but I feel really good.”

For more information on Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon, log on to

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 23, 2014

Sandy Campbell Is Just Getting Started

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

2014-08-03 11.12.48A great joy of triathlons is encountering extraordinary people who lace up for these races. These people know full well they will never get rich or famous racing. They do it to fulfill a personal goal, to tick off a bucket list item, or to run in honor someone else.

Sandy Campbell of Palatine, Illinois, is one such person. She considers herself a “late bloomer,” since she didn’t take up racing triathlons until she was 60.

Now, at age 71, this late bloomer is a veteran, having crossed the finish line more times than many competitors half her age. “I started doing half a dozen a year,” she says, “but now I’m up to maybe twelve every season.”

Sandy’s most recent accomplishment was a strong finish in the 2014 Camp Courageous Tri Sprint, where she posted a 1:48:37. It was her second time at Camp Courageous.

“I’ve done two Olympics,” says Sandy, “but the rest of my races have all been sprints.

She became interested in the sport because her son, Erik, raced triathlon. He eventually coaxed her from cheering him on to competing with him in local races.

And while she’s a great fan of triathlons and a very vocal cheerleader, there are certain parts Sandy could do without. “I hate running,” she laughs. “I love swimming and I love biking.”

Her absolute favorite aspects of racing, she adds, are the people she meets and the cause that gives her the energy to compete.

“You get to meet so many nice people,” says Sandy, who has made a lot of good friends by getting to know them at races.

The most fulfilling part of it all, she says with a big smile, is her association with I Run 4. This international organization matches runners with “honorary runners” – men and women who, because of a disability or disease, is unable to compete. “You get out and race in their honor,” says Sandy, “then you send them any medals or awards.”

Racers often compete in special t-shirts honoring their match and then send photographs showing that they are there in spirit and were an inspiration. The result, says Sandy, is that racer and honorary runner are motivated to greater accomplishments. It is also an excellent way to raise awareness of disabilities of all types.

With her son and her honorary runner to give her motivation, Sandy says she has no plans to retire from triathlons any time soon.

She’s just getting warmed up.

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 18, 2014

Pigman Long 2014-Come for the Competition, Stay for the Carbs

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By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

Everyone brought their “A” game to the Pigman Long Course and Olympic Triathlon.

Athletes came from across the country to test themselves against the signature race of the Heart of America Triathlon Series.

Thick morning fog threatened to delay the Sunday, August 17 start at Pleasant Creek State Park near Palo, Iowa. But as the sun rose, so did the haze, and swimmers hit the wetsuit-legal, 72-degree lake right on time.

Daniel Bretscher of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, beat perennial champion David Thompson of Long Lake, Minnesota, earlier this season at the Pigman Sprint, and the Olympic race was something of a rematch.

But Thompson was not to be denied, shattering Bretscher’s 2013 course record by nearly four minutes, posting, posting a 1:54:56. Bretscher was second at 2:02:11.

Both men now hold the distinction of being the only people to have won all three Pigman races Sprint, Olympic and Long Course. And Thompson now holds course records for all three.

Lesley Smith of Coralville, Iowa, took top Olympic female honors with a 2:11:26.

The Long Course competition came down to a horse race between two Wisconsans. Adam Bohach of La Crosse and Thomas Gerlach of Madison came off the bike at virtually the same time, leaving transition just 1.3 seconds apart. Bohach pulled ahead on the run, however, and never looked back, carding a 3.57.21 for the win.

Morgan Chaffin of Elkhorn, Nebraska, won the women’s crown with a time of 4:36:25. nearly six minutes ahead of the rest of the pack.

Full results at

If you leave the Pigman hungry, don’t blame race director John Snitko. He pulls out all the stops with sponsors supplying tons of treats. In addition to the usual fresh fruit and cookies post-race, athletes also feasted on pizza, spaghetti and artisan bread.

The intense level of competition brought to every Pigman has earned the race its reputation as on of the Midwest’s best. Hundreds of out-of-state triathletes drive long hours to run the Big Pig. They do this knowing that top-level triathletes will be out to set course records and capture top honors.

Strong competition fuels everyone to conquer personal goals.

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 17, 2014

Pigman live results

Follow your favorite Pigman racer using JMS Racing’s live results, optimized for mobile.

Just click on this link and enter their bib number!


Posted by: Heart of America News | August 12, 2014

2014 Pigman Long Preview

By Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News

2013-08-18 10.11.10Over 600 athletes are tapering this week in anticipation of the signature races of the Heart of America series, The Pigman Long and Olympic Races.

The cool, low-humidity weather for summer 2014 has been perfect for training and racing, and we anticipate a fast field for the Pigman races.

The Pigman Long has been run since 2000, and is the standard half-iron distance, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and half-marathon run. David Thompson holds the long-course record, and is planning to be in the field once again.

This is the third year for the Olympic distance, 1500 meter swim, 40K bike and 10K run.

The Pigman Long is a favorite of many of the triathletes in the region. For some, it’s the capper on their season. Others use the race as a tuneup for a fall Ironman. And the Olympic distance gives an opportunity for those not interested in the Half distance, to participate.

Katie Thatcher comes all the way from the Chicago area to do the race each year. “Pigman Triathlon is one of my favorite races.  The rolling bike course is enjoyable but also challenging.  The run is a sufferfest in the heat that I love to complain about but still love the challenge of it.  The venue is family friendly and a good course for spectators.  I love the small, local feel of the race, especially after, as we all sit around under the trees and catch up on our seasons.”

One of the strengths of the Pigman is its volunteers. Matt Smolsky has been helping with the race for years and is enthused for 2014. “This is one of the best organized races in the nation, and the Midwest’s oldest long course triathlon. As always, triathletes can expect plenty of course support (food, drink and experienced volunteers), and second-to-none post race activities.”

Nearly $7,000 in cash prizes will be awarded between the two races. Plus, hundreds of dollars in door prizes, and enough food to satisfy… well, all the triathletes who race!

Race director John Snitko says he can accept last-minute entries through Friday, Aug. 15, so there is still time to get signed up at

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 11, 2014

Ron Is Back!

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


Nothing keeps Ron Ottaway down. Nothing.

Not even cancer.

2014-08-03 09.22.59Ron was diagnosed with lymphoma early in 2013 and underwent the full battery of chemotherapy. The effects of the treatment left him weak and tired.

But that didn’t keep him down. He still found the energy to run the last leg of the 2013 Camp Courageous Tri Sprint, approaching the finish line to the cheers and applause of everyone there.

Ron finished final last round of chemo last November and now, as August begins, he is proud to announce that he is in remission. “I thank God for that,” he says. “I still have to get scanned every four months,” he adds, “but everything looked good at the last one.” Ron laughs about how, at a recent haircut (he’s also quite pleased that his hair is growing back), the barber told him he still had some of the chemo drugs in his system. “I’m not sure how she knew that, but she did,” he chuckled.

“I’m still recovering,” the 77-year-old Ron admits. “I take a lot of naps now. I’m still trying to get back into shape. But I’m glad to be getting back in the groove.”

2013-08-04 10.49.37Ron is the undisputed anchor and spiritual heart of the Midwest Extreme Triathlon Club. They are like his second family. Throughout his diagnosis and recovery, they rallied around him and gave him unconditional love and support.

Teammate Brita Loynachan understands the power of the positive energy Ron received from the Midwest Extreme family. Herself a cancer survivor, she credits her team with a major role in her recovery. “The support from the team definitely kept me positive and still keeps me motivated.”

Ron’s return to triathlons was marked by his completion of the recent 2014 Camp Courageous Tri Sprint. He posted a respectable 1:44:56.

The day was even more special since it was part of Ron’s and his wife Lawanna’s 57th wedding anniversary. They began the celebration the night before by going out for dinner.

“They didn’t have the kind of brandy I like,” Ron says with a smile, “so I had to settle for single malt scotch.”

Although Ron calls his finish in the Camp Courageous Tri “slow,” he was glad to be out competing again. “Last year was such a bad year. It feels so good just to be able to work out again,” he says. “I’ve always been an athlete. It feels so good to be moving again.”

Ron’s official return to athletics actually began last spring. He spent the better part of April and May biking across the United States in 27 days. He and his friends covered 3000 miles over nine states. He averaged 120 miles a day. At age 77. While still recovering from cancer. If that doesn’t convince you of Ron’s strength of spirit, nothing will.

Ron is a 17-time veteran of the Hawaiian Ironman. He won his age group in 2007, at age 70. “I’d like to do it again,” he says.

No one doubts he will.

Welcome back, Ron!

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 10, 2014

Bluff Creek 2014 – Great Racing At All Levels

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

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Grey skies cleared just in time for the start of the 2014 Bluff Creek Triathlon on August 10. Over 220 triathletes made their way to Don Williams County Park near Boone, Iowa on yet another perfect Sunday morning.

Bluff Creek plays host to both a sprint and an Olympic distance race. Collegiate triathletes from schools around the Midwest race also compete to qualify for the Collegiate National Championship later in the year.

Bluff Creek also marks the home stretch of the Heart of America Triathlon Series, which wraps up with the Cy-Man Triathlon on September 21 near Bondurant, Iowa. Several racers currently high in the standings pushed hard at Bluff Creek to increase their position in the point standings.

Race Director Alex Syhlman was impressed with the times posted by this year’s competitors. Racers were fast out of the water and made smooth transitions to the bike and run. Excellent course conditions and good, cool weather were big factors.

First across the finish line for the Sprint males was Reed Rinderknecht of Clive, Iowa, posting a 1:06:46. Reed is a five-time Ironman finisher and a 2008 Kona qualifier. First female sprint finisher was Zoe Sirotiak of Ames, Iowa, with a 1:17:52.

In the Olympic, Adam Kassem of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was first across for the men at 2:17:44. Jennifer Vande Vegte of Sioux Center, Iowa, was at the head of the pack for the Olympic women with a 2:28:56. Collegiate qualifiers were the University of Minnesota’s Jacob Folz of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at 2:23:23, and Anna Moynihan of Woodbury, Minnesota, with a 2:37:33.

For complete race results, log on to

Before the race, competitors paid tribute to the memory of Timothy Jenks, an exceptional young man and outstanding triathlete who died in a June training accident. Timothy was a veteran of the Bluff Creek Tri and a popular competitor at the race.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Jenks family. Anyone wishing to contribute to the memorial scholarship fund in Timothy’s honor may do so by contacting Bike World in Ames, Iowa, at 515-232-3669.

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