Posted by: Dennis Green | August 10, 2018

Heart of America Standings


Kathy Christiansen, Tami Fiala, and Nancy Fox are the point leaders in the latest Heart of America

Series Standings for women. Duane Staskal, Austin Jones, and Todd Dalecky top the leaderboard on the men’s side.

Click here for the complete Heart of America August Standings

The final race in the 2018 points series will be Bluff Creek on August 19, with the Championship Wave set for Cyman on Sept. 23.

Posted by: Dennis Green | August 6, 2018

Camp Courageous 2018: Too Much Heart to Rain Out

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

No Swimming

Prairie Park Fishery is only open to swimmers during the Camp Courageous Triathlon

The Camp Courageous Triathlon is, hands down, the sentimental favorite of the Heart of America series. Racers come from across the country – from Wilmington, Delaware and St. Joseph, Missouri, and everywhere in between – to take part.

Many, like Ken and Kim Kral of Hayward, Wisconsin, return every year because they have a personal connection with Camp Courageous. Ken and Kim worked as both volunteers and as paid staff several years ago. Once you experience the impact the Camp has on its guests, they said, it leaves and indelible impression.

Others race to raise money and awareness the year-round respite care and recreational facility near Monticello, Iowa. As Co-Director Nick Gearhart declared at the pre-race meeting, all money raised at the Camp Courageous Triathlon goes toward the facility and its programming. “None of us are getting paid,” said Nick. “It’s a labor close to our hearts.” Learn more about Camp Courageous at

Even lightning, rain, and strong winds didn’t stop the dedicated triathletes. They waited out a line of thunderstorms that rolled through just before start time. This turned out to be a mixed blessing. The air temperature and humid decreased noticeably, and the cloud cover made for a very pleasant day.

The threat of another line of storms added incentive to run a fast race. Joanna Hall of Coralville picked up her second female overall crown in a row. She led the pack the entire course and posted a 1:11:43 – a full 8-plus minutes ahead of second place Pam Connolly and third place Kim Sprenger. Chicagoan


Andrew Dabson’s lead over second place Tom Rutkowski and third place Duane Staskel was equally impressive. Andrew crossed the line at 1:06:53. You can hear more about Joanna’s and Andrew’s day on the course in their video interviews.

Full results at

So many little details make the Camp Courageous Triathlon a very special experience. Camp Courageous is the only triathlon in the Heart of America series to boast live music. The band Horse Theory returned this year to jam for the appreciative crowd.

The winners’ medals and trophies are all hand-painted by Camp Courageous guests. Receiving such a unique prize, many triathletes said, was the highlight of the race.

Racers show a tremendous amount of heart at the Camp Courageous Triathlon. Case in point was Tyler Hobart of North Liberty. He completed the entire run course in his volunteer fireman gear. Find out why in his video interview.

Whatever the inspiration, the Camp Courageous Triathlon boasts one of the HOA Series’ most loyal and dedicated followings. They wait out storms that could easily cancel the event. They push themselves harder, but they finish with smiles on their faces.

And they look forward to the next year.

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 29, 2018

Series Standings Coming Soon

We’re working on series standings thus far in 2018, and will post them as soon as they’re available.

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 17, 2018

Quad Cities 2018: So Hot In So Many Ways

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


(from left) Jeff Kaczinski, John Grice, Ann Vestle, Fred Hemsath, and Guy Olson have done all 19 Quad Cities Triathlons (with race director Eric Sarno).

(Click here for more race pictures)

The answer to almost every question at 2018’s Quad Cities Triathlon Sprint was,

“Hot.”How are you? Hot.

How was the lake? Hot.

How was the course? Hot.

Temperatures climbed steadily as the sun rose into clear skies. And because it is Iowa in June, with great heat comes great humidity. But oppression from Mother Nature did nothing to wilt the enthusiasm of the triathletes at Quad Cities. By start time, they were anxious to go.

With his trademark rallying cry, “It’s about to go down,” Race Director Eric Sarno sounded the horn and 500-plus racers hit the 80-degree water, so by USAT rules, competitors could wear a wetsuit, but would not qualify for awards.

First out of the water was North Liberty’s Josh Madsen with a commanding 8:05 – more than two minutes ahead of his closest rivals, Jeff Paul of Le Claire and Adam Kassem of Iowa City. Madsen remained the one to beat as he came in first off the bike course as well. The heat, Madsen admitted, affected his run time. He came in third off the run course behind both Paul and Kassem. But strong numbers in the swim and bike kept Madsen in first place with a 1:05:52. This was his first Quad Cities championship, after placing 2nd and 3rd in previous tries.

2017 women’s champ Joanna Hall of Coralville made it two in a row. She made up for lost time during the swim by smoking the bike course, hitting transition nearly two minutes ahead of Dubuque’s Elaina Biechler. Hall’s run was just strong enough to edge out both Biechler and Laura Moeller of Ankeny at 1:15:19.

For complete race results, log on to

According to Race Director Sarno, any triathlon sprint with over 300 registrants is considered a big race. If that’s the case, then the Quad Cities Triathlon Sprint is a big event, indeed. Registrations average 500 to 700 annually.

Races of that size come with certain expectations from the triathletes. By this 19thrunning of Quad Cities, Sarno has the details finely tuned. From a kid’s wading pool to wash the beach sand off the feet, to stationing the Healthy Habits Bicycle Shop tent close to the Bike Out for emergency repairs, such amenities help to enhance the warm mood.

Quad Cities is the easternmost race on the Heart of America calendar, drawing heavily from Illinois and Wisconsin triathletes. This benefits the HoA by introducing a different demographic to the series.

All this, plus infectious camaraderie and a popular course, make Quad Cities a hot one, indeed.


Posted by: Dennis Green | June 10, 2018

The Music… and Fun Live On

by Jon Weih

Heart of America Triathlon News


Clear Lake, Iowa may be where the Music Died back in 1959, but it lives on for the triathletes who competed in the TRI Clear Lake Sprint Triathlon 2018.  59 years after that after a stormy winter night when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper chartered that fateful flight, it was a pretty typical Iowa summer morning. A little humid, cloudy and about 71 degrees at race time.

This is not the first time triathlons have been contested in Clear Lake.  According to Race Director Carrie Tysdahl, “There used to be a triathlon this same weekend (20+ years ago) and we are happy to bring it back bigger and stronger!”

Click here for more pictures.


Team Hot Rod & Flash Rausch

And stronger it was as over 230 triathletes braved a short pre-race rain shower and dipped into the wet suit legal 72.9 degree waters of Clear Lake. In the field was Tysdahl’s father Rod Johnson, sister Heather Rausch and nephew Reid Rausch who comprised team Hot Rod and Flash Rausch!  This 3 generation team would see Rod compete in his first triathlon completing the bike portion, grandson Reid would contest the run.  Heather had a special day and would go on to complete the rest of the 12.4 mile bike and 3.1 mile run (after the 750 meter swim) and finish second overall in the women’s division.

Course records were set by both the mens and women’s champs. Wes Anderson of Decorah shattered the previous record of 1:07.40 with a blazing 57:47.

“The course was a nice flat course.” said Anderson.  The elite triathlete hinted that his main goal this season is to spend time with his two children while enjoying the racing season. Watch Wes’s comments on video.

Eamonn McCullough, recent Waverly Shell Rock HS graduate finished a distant second to Anderson but had a good day.  The former high school swim and track standout will compete in those two sports for Gustavus Adolphus College next year.

On the women’s side, Esmie Holderman of Des Moines broke her own course record set in last year’s initial race in 1:13.18. Holderman loved the course and even enjoyed the breeze which picked up as the athletes were on the course. Esmie breaks down her race for Jon.

“The wind didn’t bother me, but cooled me down.” said Holderman.  Heather Rausch would finish in second with a time of 1:14.47. also eclipsing last year’s course record.

Full results at True Time Racing.


Jon can’t resist a Surf Selfie

Many stayed around as the music came back to life as the Take Me Back Reunion band festival played through the weekend.

The 5k turned right in front of the famous Surf Ballroom.  I couldn’t resist the selfie!

Great race, great community, great time! A tentative date of June 8th, 2019 has been set aside for TRI Clear Lake 2019.  Be sure to visit their website and learn more so you can be here next year.

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 6, 2018

TRI Clear Lake – Prettiest Race Around

Screenshot 2018-06-06 15.36.02The Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, like Chambers, is charged with promoting the highlights of their community to attract businesses, residents, and tourists. The Clear Lake Chamber figures that one way to showcase the beauty of their area is to let triathletes experience it first hand, in the water, and along scenic byways.

A new race to the Heart of America series, TRI Clear Lake, on June 9, takes place in one of Iowa’s premier summer destinations. The 750 meter swim starts and ends at State Park Beach. The bike is 12.4 miles and winds south through scenic prairie and windmills. The 5K run ends in City Park, right in the middle of downtown.

The race  was founded in 2017 by Carrie Tysdahl and Jake Kopriva. Carrie did her first race in 2005, and became hooked immediately.

TRI Clear Lake is the only race in our series whose finish line is right in the middle of downtown. Race organizers promise a fun Finish Line party to celebrate completing the race!

More info at We’ll have pictures and a race wrap-up here at at the conclusion of the event.

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 3, 2018

2018 Pigman – A Breeze

by Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News


High School Champs Quinton Gay, Weston Turner, & Anthony Lee

When a ninety-degree heat wave broke the day for the 2018 running of the Pigman triathlon, over 500 athletes breathed a sigh of relief. The water temperature in Pleasant Creek Lake dipping just into wetsuit-legal territory, and the only thing that kept the day from perfection was a stiff head wind on the bike.

Click here for more pictures.

There were few complaints, though, and as usual, the staff and volunteers in East Central Iowa’s biggest triathlon put on a smooth and well-organized race.

The only fly in the ointment was a delay in displaying the results on the big screen, which eventually was traced to an update pushed out by the timing software vendor, which took down not only the Pigman, but several other races as well.


High School women’s champions Emily Fusselman, Alyssa Neese, and Sydney Jones.

Kevin Denny of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, won the men’s race in 1:02:54. Maddy Pesch, a Grinnell College alum now living in Madison, Wisconsin, claimed the women’s crown, with a winning time of 1:09:47.

For the first time, the Pigman served as the USA Triathlon High School Championship race. Quinton Gay and Emily Fusselman, both of Cedar Rapids, won the inaugural competition.

Check out the full race results at

Posted by: Dennis Green | May 31, 2018

Pigman Adds High School, Collegiate Divisions

by Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News

DSCN3613.JPGThe Pigman Triathlon adds two new divisions for the June 3rd race, one a state championship.

USA Triathlon has selected the Pigman to be the Iowa High School State Championship race. High school students from around the state will be at the race competing for the state crown. Any student entering grades 9-12 can enter this division. Recent graduates are not eligible. Students will compete as individuals, not under the banner of a school.

The race will also be a part of the Midwest Collegiate Conference Triathlon Series, which will attract athletes from colleges in Iowa and nearby states.

Participants in the high school and college divisions will begin the race in wave starts that will begin after the women’s and men’s elite waves. All other age groups will take off in time trial starts after the first four waves are in the water.

USA Triathlon officials will also be at the race this year. If you haven’t for awhile, please familiarize yourself with the most commonly violated rules and penalties.

Over $4000 in cash prizes will be awarded at the race, including a $750 bonus for the first athlete to cross the finish line. The men’s and women’s elite waves will be gender-equalized, with the elite women’s wave going off 5:28 before the men, which is the difference between the men’s and women’s course records.

Age group winners also receive a free entry to next year’s race.

Dozens of door prizes, including the traditional goodies from Gear West Bike & Triathlon, will also be given away.

With a fast, flat course, the Pigman is a great race for experienced triathletes and beginners alike.

Posted by: Dennis Green | May 21, 2018

Weather or Not, A Strong Race

By Ron Adkins


DSCN5734Triathletes who race at Hickory Grove are one hearty bunch. Last year’s running was under grey skies, spitting drizzle, 42-degree temperatures, and 35 mph winds. 2018 saw moderately better conditions — grey skies still, but warmer (57-degree) temps, and only a slight breeze. Said one triathlete with a grin, “At least it’s not raining.”


That’s the spirit!


Race Director Alex Syhlman worried that overnight thunderstorms might crimp the 2018 Hickory Grove Triathlon Sprint, Duathlon, and Aquabike. The storms passed through, however, leaving behind a damp course but high spirits.


Triathletes hit the 72-degree Hickory Grove Lake near Colo, and began a very competitive race.


Less than 90 seconds separated first place and second in the female Aquabike. Enita Larson of Omaha pulled ahead of Michelle Stout of Ankeny, finishing with a 1:00:37 to take top Aquabike honors. Duane Fritchie of Lees Summit, Missouri crossed the line first in the Aquabike with a 52:10 for the males.


Carolyn Weber stood atop the leaderboard in the female duathlon, coming in at 1:26:04. Lincoln Murdoch smoked the course in the men’s duathlon. His 1:10:25 finish was almost two minutes faster than John Monger, 30 years Lincoln’s junior.


Evan Culbert was first out of the water in the triathlon swim and remained the one to beat. Tyson Wieland and Matthew Gardiner kept pace, though, trading leads in the bike and run. Culbert’s cumulative score of 1:01:53 was enough at race’s end to crown him the male champion. 


Culbert also schooled the field on racing outside the comfort zone. On such a brisk, grey day, Culbert swam without a wetsuit, then rode the bike and ran the 5k in a Speedo. Now that’s tough!


It was a three-way footrace among the female triathletes, with Sharon Heyer, Carrie Van Quathem, and Mandi Kowal each in command of one the heats. One minute separated first place from third, with Sharon Heyer coming out on top with a 1:19:55. 


For complete race results, visit


DSCN5773A special acknowledgment goes out to 72-year-old Cathy Todd. The final athlete to cross the under the finish arch, she ended the race tired but elated, buoyed on by cheers and applause from family and race volunteers who had remained behind to make sure she had a cheering section. Cathy took home the ribbon for first place among the 70+ females. 


Stark weather at Hickory Grove has almost become the norm. Even the heartiest of the field shivered a little as they “warmed up.” But by start time the game faces came on and the chill was forgotten.




Posted by: Dennis Green | May 6, 2018

TriByKnight 2018: The Perfect Way To Start The Season!

by Ron Adkins



The seventh running of the TriByKnight sprint triathlon was pretty much ideal for an early-season race. The weather was nearly perfect, course conditions were excellent, and staff and volunteers kept all aspects well organized.

2018 marks the debut of TriByKnight in the Heart of America Triathlon Series, and the first race of the HOA season. Co-director Carrie Tysdahl sees the race’s inclusion on the calendar as a win-win for all involved. She noted an uptick in registrants this year, which means fresh athletes and greater competition. “This is the perfect race for the beginning of a season,” Carrie said. “It’s great for people wanting to try the sport for the first time, or for veterans who want to ease into competition after the long break.”

Held on the Wartburg College campus in Waverly, Iowa, TriByKnight utilizes the school’s state-of-the-art natatorium. Newcomers to the sport, who might be leery of an open water swim, “get their feet wet” in a climate-controlled pool. The bike course takes racers along good roads to the outskirts of town and back, and the run loops through campus and the college’s stadium.

TriByKnight, noted Alex Syhlman of True Time Racing, is the only Heart of America race with a Jumbotron. That, he says, grinning, is a definite perk.

Many TriByKnight first-timers included veterans to the Heart of America series, as well as experienced marathon runners. Several members of the Midwest Extreme Tri Club sported their colors on the course, as did racers from Luther College’s tri club.

Cayla Bellamy of Waterloo, part-time triathlete and full-time professor of music at the University of Northern Iowa, was very pleased with the level of competition. “It was a much faster race than last year,” she says. “Lots of new runners who raised the bar.” Less than two minutes separated the top five in the men’s category, while less than three minutes stood between first and second place for the females.

The battle for men’s champion was a tug-of-war between Adam Kassem of Iowa City and Luke Anderson of Waverly. Luke was very strong in the water and first off the bike but, as is often the case, it was Adam’s speed on the run that propelled him first across the finish line. He came under the arch with a 1:01:15. First place female honors went to Elaina Biechler of Dubuque with an impressive 1:08:39.

For complete race results, log on to

One of the real strengths of TriByKnight is the passion of its volunteers. The race co-directors enlisted the aid of legions of student – including the Wartburg football and wrestling teams — and dedicated members of the Waverly community. Racers, volunteers, and spectators alike drew energy from Penny Ruthgen’s infectious enthusiasm. She helped at the bike-out and seemed to know the first name of each racer. Everyone got a smile, a cheer, and a psychological push as he or she kicked off for the ride.

This kind of positivity, and the race coordinators’ attention to the little things, are a huge part of a triathlon’s success. It definitely made for a successful seventh running of TriByKnight, and a fun start to the 2018 Heart of America series.




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