Posted by: Heart of America News | July 27, 2015

Camp Courageous 2015 – Smack Talk!

2014-08-03 12.13.10The Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon is already a popular event, because of it’s racer-friendly course and mission to benefit the outstanding programs of Camp Courageous.

But this year, some smack talk is adding to the atmosphere.

Cedar Rapids radio personality Scott Schulte formed a team with the two past Survivor participants from Cedar Rapids, Denise Stapley (who won the show in 2012), and 2014 participant Sarah Lacina.

Scott Schulte, Running God

Scott Schulte, Running God

But in June, Scott opened up a letter on the air from Steve Davis, president of the Iowa HEAT Tri Club, announcing that the HEAT were putting together an all-star team, including some past Camp Courageous winners, to challenge Scott and the Survivors. On the line is a promise to purchase $250 in items from the Camp Courageous Wish List.

Never one to run from a challenge, Scott took up the gauntlet on behalf of his team, acknowledging with just a hint of desperation that it just might be Denise and Sarah who would have bear the brunt of the work.  Denise that may be so, as long as she can “overcome my irrational fear of sharks in Central Park Lake.”

Asked if he would like to say anything to his competitors, Iowa HEAT team leader Tom Rutkowski said “Oh, I don’t know that we need to trash talk; we’re happy to beat anybody for a good cause!”

Undaunted, the ever-fearless morning DJ proclaims, “If the Iowa HEAT think their best three can tack down the three of us… then they are two thirds sadly mistaken.”

But don’t count out a third team of ringers, Midwest XTreme Tri Club president Rosie Jones, her husband Blake, and Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett will also complete.

Who will win the contest of bragging rights? You’ll have to go to Central Park in Jones County this Sunday to find out. But one thing is for sure, the real winners are the hundreds of individuals of all ages served by the staff and volunteers of Camp Courageous.

It’s not too late to register for the race. Do so at

Posted by: Heart of America News | July 19, 2015

Bluff Creek 2015-Warm But Fun

More Bluff Creek photos

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By Dennis Green, Heart of America News

Typical July weather greeted nearly 300 participants in the 2015 Bluff Creek Triathlon. But since temperatures had soared into the 90s the day before, a race time temperature of 72 with a breeze was definitely a relief. The only downside was the thousands of mosquitos who streamed into Don Williams Park for an early morning buffet.

2014 champion Zoe Sirotiak made it two in a row, capturing the women’s sprint crown in 1:14:15. David Roney of North Liberty topped the men with a 1:07:54.

Evan Cuthbert and Charity Fluharty won the Olympic races in 2:05:37 and 2:19:53.

It was an especially good day for the members of the Midwest Xtreme Tri Club. The racing Goldsmith brothers, Craig and Chad, won their age groups in the Sprint; as did Dave Steines, Katy Cater, Guy Olson, and Nancy Fox. Brita Loynachan topped her age group in the Olympic race.

Warm temperatures precluded wetsuits for the swim, which sometimes can add to the stress for racers who aren’t totally confident in the water. Age Group champ Roney said swimming without a suit wasn’t a problem for him.

“Not at all. In fact it may even have helped, as long as I can keep up with this guy,” he joked, jerking a thumb at teammate Guy Olson.

Ben Trnka of LaCrescent, Minnesota raced the Olympic distance in his first appearance at Bluff Creek, and said he loved the course.

“Especially that hill,” referring to a pretty steep incline cyclists hit first thing out of the park, but that provides a fast end to the Olympic bike.

Full results are at this link.

Posted by: Heart of America News | July 11, 2015

Bluff Creek 2015 Preview

2015 brings a new date for the Bluff Creek Triathlon. It will be the only Heart of America Series race to take place in July.

2014-08-10 10.03.30Hosting a July race in Iowa can be a gamble, particularly when your event includes the tough Olympic distance, but the weather outlook for July 18 will be seasonal. Most participants will be sitting in the shade by the time the heat of the day hits. But with Lake Geode taking the year off, race director Alex Syhlman grabbed the available date.

Bluff Creek features both a Sprint and Olympic distance race. It’s also a part of the Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference again this year. Competing will be the top triathletes from Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, and University of Nebraska.

The race takes place in scenic Don Williams Park, near Ogden, Iowa. The race begins with a point-to-point swim. Participants are bused from the transition area to the swim start. Alex reminds entrants to arrive a little early, as they must allow time to catch a shuttle, which runs from 7:00am to 7:35am.

The bike course winds through Boone County, One particularly challenging hill was used for a scene in the 1996 feature film “Tornado.”

The run course is flat, but the first and last quarter mile are on grass and the park trail. Olympic racers are reminded that they need to make two loops around the paved part of the course to complete their 10K.

The race is still accepting registrations, so if you are not doing RAGBRAI this year, or the idea of doing a race to break up the drive to Sioux City is appealing, visit to register.

Posted by: Heart of America News | June 20, 2015

Picture Perfect – 2015 Quad Cities Triathlon

Click on the image for more Quad Cities pictures.

Click on the image for more Quad Cities pictures.

730 participants agreed, perfect weather helped make for a perfect day at the 2015 running of the Quad Cities Triathlon.

“The temperature was just right, no wind. It was great,” Dave Steines of Mt. Vernon observed.

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Women’s champ Daniela Williams heads out on the run.

The Quad Cities race attracts veterans and first-timers alike to its flat course and sprint distance. Race director Eric Sarno and his volunteers have race operations down to a science, getting a large number of participants through the race  as smooth as the surface of West Lake.

Daniela Williams of North Liberty, who notched three championships in 2014, won her first crown of 2015, topping the women’s race with a time of 1:10:49. Hometown favorite Seth Long won the men’s race in 1:05:52.

Sarno doesn’t give out awards for perfect attendance, but he did recognize two races who have competed at each of the sixteen Quad Cities events, Ann Vestle of Cedar Rapids, and Fred Hemsath of St. Joseph, Michigan.

Full results are here.

Posted by: Heart of America News | June 7, 2015

Pigman Sprint 2015 – Another Year, Another Course Record

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Nearly 800 athletes did not get a good night’s sleep the night before the 2015 running of the Pigman Sprint, as thunderstorms boomed through Eastern Iowa, disturbing much-needed rest and causing worries about whether the race would even be held. But fortune smiled on race director John Snitko and his staff. Despite having to set up the race in a driving rain, the rain stopped and the JMS Racing crew got the race started with only a fifteen-minute delay.

The cool, cloudy day made for a fast field. Jackie Hering beat 2014 champ Heather Lindsay for the women’s crown, and also beat Lindsay’s course record from last year by thirty seconds, crossing the finish line in 1:06:25. Hering also won the $750 cash bonus for being the first person to cross the finish line in the Pigman gender-equalized start.

On the men’s side, perennial champ David Thompson was a last-minute entry. Just about as last-minute as you can get, in fact. Instead of his traditional #1, he wore bib #795, of 796 participants! But the extra weight of more ink on his bib didn’t slow him down, as he carded his twelfth Pigman Championship with a winning time of 1:01:39.

Full results at this link.

Posted by: Heart of America News | June 6, 2015

Live Pigman Results

Follow your favorite athlete during the race with Live Pigman Results. Follow either of the links below and enter the bib number or name of any participant to see which checkpoints they’ve cleared, or whether they have finished or not.

Click here for results on your phone or mobile device.

Click here for results on your laptop or desktop.Screenshot 2015-06-04 16.59.13

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 3, 2015

Series Races Cater to Newcomers

While the Heart of America series launches with Hickory Grove in May, for most racers the season truly begins in June with the Pigman Sprint and/or the Quad Cities Triathlon.2014-06-01 07.44.16

These two events are the most popular races in the series, often filling up shortly after the new year begins. Each also has the reputation of being extra-friendly to newcomers.

At the Pigman, now in its 24th year, race director John Snitko has seen two generations of racers debut as novices and grow to become experienced and sometimes elite athletes.  But the Pigman remains extra-friendly to beginners. John regularly posts and shares training tips, by email and at his site He also sometimes brings in clinicians, like Pigman course record holder David Thompson, to share stories and tips.

Quad Cities director Eric Sarno takes his obligation to provide a good experience to novices extra-seriously.

“I give my phone number out to every racer,” he says. “Other race directors think I’m crazy, but I want every participant to know that if they have a question, they can reach out to me at any time.”

Because triathlon combines three different disciplines, with the added complication of transitioning from swim to bike to run, triathlon may have the biggest learning curve of any sport. It’s extra-important for beginners to know that any question they may have has probably been asked before. But this doesn’t mean they should be afraid to ask. It simply means odds are the question can be answered quickly and easily.

“I want everyone to understand that they’re not the first person to be nervous, or to ask a particular question,” Sarno continues. “My biggest worry is beginners who don’t ask questions. It’s the people who show up day of race late, or don’t know where to go, or don’t know how or where to rack their equipment that can make everyone else’s job harder. No one should ever feel intimidated about asking. We’re prepared for and welcome both the beginner and the experienced triathlete.”

Even though both races are closed, the Pigman and Quad Cities websites contain a wealth of information and training tips that can benefit you even if you aren’t doing that particular race.  Visit them at:

Posted by: Heart of America News | May 25, 2015

Hickory Grove 2015: Soggy Day Can’t Dampen Spirits

By Ron Adkins
Heart of America Triathlon News

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The threat of rain couldn’t stop triathletes from lacing up for the 2015 running of the Hickory Grove Triathlon Sprint, Duathlon, and Aquabike on Sunday, May 17.

200 competitors hit the course at Hickory Grove State Park near Colo, Iowa, on what threatened to be a chilly, soggy day. The persistent rains of the past week were the only concern going into race day, said co-director Alex Sylhman. Those concerns evaporated, however, when the first racers crossed the lines. All had positive reports on the condition of the bike and run courses.

“It was beautiful out there,” said Brita Loynachan. “The trail was in great shape and the roads were nice and dry.” Loynachan posted a 1:27:01 in the triathlon and came in first in her age group.

Racers of all ages, however, posted some great times. Overall winners of the triathlon were Patrick Davis with a 1:03:44 and Jessica Rossing with a 1:15:18. First across the finish line in the duathlon were Jonathan Estabrook, posting a 1:09:00 and Tonya Armstrong, coming in at 1:24:07. Aquabike winners were John Neer with a 48:39 and Zoe Sirotiak with a 59:20.

Complete race results can be found at

As the gray clouds passed, giving way to blue skies and sunshine, the main topic of discussion turned from weather to stories of athletes’ personal triumphs.

2014 Heart of America Series champion Guy Olson raced against his doctor’s advice. He won his age group, finishing with a 1:24:20 despite a persistent knee injury. “The doctor strongly suggested I stay away from racing until this thing heals up properly.” Olson added with a grin, “Yeah, I just couldn’t do that.”

The story of the race was, without a doubt, that of 91-year-old Robert Powers. Robert completed the duathlon in great form, crossing the line to the cheers of his fellow athletes.

While the 2014 Cy-Man is officially the first race of the 2015 season, Hickory Grove launches the Heart of America Series calendar. If all the races of the season run as smooth as Hickory Grove, said Sylhman, it’s going to be a great season of triathlons.

Posted by: Heart of America News | January 25, 2015

2015 Heart of America Season Announced

There are some changes to the Iowa triathlon scene for 2015. Some we’re excited about, some not so much.

One change that has us looking forward to August is the debut of a new, spectator-friendly course for the Pigman Long Course. The 13.1 mile run will take place entirely within Pleasant Creek Park, with several loops so you can cheer on the racers. The bike course is changing to be more viewer-friendly, too. It will pass by the entrance to the park multiple times, at a spot easily accessible to spectators. Full details at

On the not-as-fun side, the Lake Geode Challenge will not be held this year. We hope this hiatus is short, and that this fun and challenging race will be back in 2016.

So This year, the Heart of America series will consist of eight races. Bluff Creek has moved to Lake Geode’s traditional July date.

Here is the full 2015 schedule:

Series points are awarded for participating in each race, not matter where you finish.  Series winners receive free entries into each of next year’s races.


There are no additional steps or hidden costs to participate in this series. When you complete one of the races in the series, your points will be automatically calculated and posted on this website.


  • Participants are awarded full points for all races they complete during the year.
  • Overall winners (male & female) receive 1,000 points.
  • Each participant earns points based on the percentage behind the overall winner. As an example, if your time is 20 percent slower than the overall winner, you will receive 800 points.
Posted by: Dennis Green | December 20, 2014

Registration Open for Pigman, Marion Arts Fest Races

2014-08-17 13.04.12Looking for a gift for the athlete on your list? How about registering him or her for their favorite race?

Registration is now open for the Pigman Sprint, Pigman Long (with the new spectator-friendly course) and the Marion Arts Fest Half-Marathon and 5K.

Register for all three and get special early-bird savings!

Like the Pigman page on Facebook for race updates, or visit for information and registration.

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