by Ron Adkins
Heart of America Triathlon News
While the Bluff Creek Tri Sprint and Olympic’s schedule changed from May to August, the level of competition remained traditionally high, treating racers and spectators to a strong field.
Storm clouds threatened a pre-race soaker. But as the sun rose over Don Williams State Park near Ogden, Iowa, the front thankfully moved further north. Partly-cloudy skies and a modest breeze helped to continue the unseasonable Midwest cool spell. This gave triathletes the welcome opportunity to bike and run without the usually oppressive August heat and humidity.
Shuttle busses carried over 300 racers to the beach for the point-to-point swim leg. While weather was on the chilly side, water temperature at start time was a balmy, wetsuit-legal 77.8 degrees.
The bike course was hilly but in good condition, and the run’s trail through shaded woods made some impressive times possible.
In the Sprint, Carrie Van Quathern of Urbandale, Iowa came in first for the females with a 1:15:49, while Jim Hagelie of Waukee, Iowa was the top male with a 1:07:19.1.
Top Olympic-distance female was Elaina Mertens of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, coming in at 2:25:49.1. Top male finisher to cross the line was Peder Skoog of Waukee, Iowa with a 2:04:17.6.
Race co-director Alex Sylmann was excited by the level of competition at this year’s Bluff Creek. “Not having to race in 90-degree heat really made it easier,” he said. Racers could focus more on the competition and less on the climate.
Sylmann was especially pleased with how easily everyone involved transitioned to Bluff Creek’s move on the Heart of America calendar. “I’ve heard very little criticism about the switch,” he said. “And running Bluff Creek in August seems logical. There are fewer bugs, the water’s warmer, and we start the race with more daylight.”
As he recaps the race, Sylmann said he will consider whether or not a permanent scheduling swap would benefit the race. The numbers from this year’s race does prove one thing immediately. The quality of Bluff Creek triathletes, no matter when they compete, remains constant.