Posted by: Heart of America News | October 2, 2015

Sharp Dressed Man

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

At first glance, you’re not sure if 23-year-old Byron Smith heard the announcer correctly when he decla2015Cyman10red the water “wetsuit legal.” You stand there, looking at Byron as he stands at the lake’s edge.

In a business suit.

Granted, he looks quite dashing, but you do question his sanity. Until you get to know him. Then you realize that he is quite sane and his heart is definitely in the right place.

“It’s all about having fun out here,” he says with a big grin. “I try to high-five everyone out on the course, to make them smile and remind them that this is a very fun sport.”

The recent Cy-Man was the second race Byron competed in formal attire. Although, he specifies, “This is the first time I’ve worn a tie. I try to be a little more formal with each race.” His chosen tie was a tasteful thin number that went well with the fedora he wore on the run.

Cy-Man marked the 20th tri Byron has raced in the past three years. Cy-Man was also his very first triathlon back in 2012. He has no plans to stop competing, if you calls what he does ‘competing.’ He finished third in his age division with an impressive 1:33:48 – a time that would have been slightly more impressive had he not turned around to retrieve the fedora that flew off about five yards from the finish line.

“I would have felt naked crossing the line without it,” he said with a straight face. (This reporter, however, was laughing out loud.)

Byron graduated from Iowa State University last year with a degree in aerospace engineering. “I want to design apps for mobile devices, but I would jump at the chance to be an astronaut. I’m always changing goals.”

Byron finds the swim leg of the race the most enjoyable. This is ironic, considering that by the time he leaves the water and mounts his bike, that business suit is providing about 150 pounds of extra drag. “It gets lighter as it dries out on the bike and run, so no worries,” he says.

He grew up as a runner, and picked up swimming in high school. After graduating ISU, he moved to Minneapolis and continues to train with the University of Minnesota Triathlon Club. “My only other sport is Frisbee,” he says.

Byron says he plans to continue racing triathlons for a long time. “They’re a great way to stay in shape and to meet lots of fun people,” he says. “I love to make people smile.”

If competing in a suit is the way he’s found to put a grin on a bunch of game faces, then more power to him.

Posted by: Heart of America News | September 21, 2015

CyMan Caps Off One Season, Kicks Off Another

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

 2015Cyman20CyMan 2015 is a busy way to cap off the local triathlon season. It’s actually four races in one. 130 triathletes gathered at Lake Petocka near Bondurant, Iowa, to compete in either the Sprint, Olympic, Heart of America championship, or Collegiate divisions.

While CyMan represents the championship race of the 2015 Heart of America season, it is also the opening event for 2016. Points earned at the CyMan count toward next year’s standings. 

Heart of America points winners raced in a special champion wave, and finish times were then age-equalized. The top five age-equalized times win free entries next year.

2015Cyman22Kim Sprenger of Iowa City won the Championship wave for the women. Points champ Brita Loynichan was second, with Ann Vestle, Tami Fiala, and Jill Snitko rounding out the top five.

Guy Olson of Cedar Rapids topped the leaderboard for the men, with points champ Dave Steines just behind. Adam Kassem, Fred Hemsath, and Craig Goldsmith also finished in the money.

For complete Heart of America Series final results, visit

The CyMan is the Iowa State University Triathlon Club’s main event, and a qualifier for Collegiate Nationals. The top collegiate male was Alex Hershey with a 2:10:14. First place female was Hannah Eldridge at 2:34:50.

Athletes couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was downright autumnal, with crisp morning air, near cloudless skies, and a brisk breeze. Water temperature for the swim leg was a balmy 77 degrees.

Ryan Long of Omaha, was the first male across the line in the Sprint, clocking a 1:09:51. Top female honors went to Zoe Sirotiak of Des Moines with a 1:21:15.

The top male in the Olympic distance was Eric Prilip of Dubuque, coming in at 2:19:33. The top female was Laura Moeller of Ankeny, with a 2:34:39.

Full results at

Posted by: Heart of America News | September 17, 2015

Have You Hugged A Volunteer Today?

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

Christy Hatter

Christy Hatter with Jon Weih

Ask any race director. He or she will tell you the same thing: Triathlons can’t be run without the work of volunteers.

You see them everywhere – at the check-in table, marking numbers on the triathletes, keeping things smooth out on the course. They’re usually wearing a bright t-shirt in some neon shade but, ironically, they’re often invisible to competitors and spectators alike.

And yet, they’re arguably the most important people at the race. Volunteers do everything from setting up transition to cutting up bananas. They’re who you ask for directions to the bathroom, or for the current lake temperature. They do all of this and don’t get paid a cent.

Why do this?

“Because,” Christy Hatter says matter-of-factly. “It’s fun. I have a great time and meet some great people. Triathletes and their fans are the best.”

Christy served as the volunteer coordinator for the 2015 Camp Courageous Tri Sprint, an annual event to raise money and awareness for the camp’s mission to help challenged individuals reach their full potential. Christy’s job was to enlist the army of volunteers needed for the race, then assign each volunteer his or her particular task. Then, come race day, she followed up with each volunteer and made sure everyone was in the right place. Once all was set, she manned the welcome table and greeted everyone with a bright smile.

“I loved it,” she beamed. “I had a great team. They were wonderful to work with.”

Granted, she says with a little irony, Christy and all the other volunteers could be sleeping on a Sunday morning before the sun comes up. But for Christy and company, it is their way to contribute to the cause.

Christy has retired from a career with Trans-America. She has volunteered for different causes, including for Camp Courageous in the past, but only when time and job permitted. “Now, I’m back to do it again. Only this time I don’t have that job to get in the way.”

“I have a cousin with special needs, so for a long time I was very active with Special Olympics,” she said.

“I think Camp Courageous is a very good organization,” Christy added. “It serves a populations that tends to get overlooked.”

While she boasts being a die-hard fan of triathlons, Christy admits that extent of her competitive nature began and ended with doing the Polar Plunge in Minnesota.

Has she ever considered doing a triathlon herself?

“Not a chance,” she said, shaking her head vigorously. “I’m very happy volunteering and making things run smoothly for the real competitors.”

Posted by: Heart of America News | September 14, 2015

Best Dam Tri 2015: Cool Weather, Hot Race

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

IBDT women's start

Click on the image for the full IBDT photo album.

That collective chattering of teeth you heard echoing off the Coralville Reservoir were from the 230 triathletes huddled together for the 2015 Iowa’s Best Dam Tri. Sunday morning, September 13, started out brisk, but as the sun rose over Coralville Lake, the day promised near-perfect race conditions.

High levels of e coli bacteria in the lake water proved to be the only glitch. Race Director Leah Dematta switched a duathlon. All participants ran 1 mile, then split into the normal bike and run distances for Sprint and Olympic. Competitors took the changes in stride, and Dematta was pleased that the race began so smoothly.

“Nature is the only thing we can’t control,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

The triathletes, however, were in complete control of their performances, posting some amazing times. Joanna Hall of Coralville, came in first for the females in the Sprint division with a 1:03:15. Josh Madsen of North Liberty made it two in a row. The 2014 champ crossed the line first for the men with a 58:55:96.

The infectious enthusiasm of several collegiate teams kept all the competitors pumped. Spectators who weren’t there to cheer on a team member found themselves cheering on an alma mater or just a favorite school. Iowa’s Best Dam Tri is also the championship race for Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference. College triathletes from across the Midwest came ready to win and all teams scorched the course. Top female collegiate honors went to Melanie Rabino of Woodbury, Minnesota, with a 2:09:34. The first collegiate male across the line was Jonathan Echevers of Chicago, Illinois, posting a 1:50:22.

Overall Olympic winner for the females was Deanna Shepherd of Bettendorf, finishing in 2:27:23. Top Olympic male was Adam Campbell of Cedar Falls, with a 2:00:04.

For complete race results, visit

Iowa’s Best Dam Tri also represents the final race in the 2015 Heart of America Triathlon season. Contenders for top Heart of America honors came ready to improve their positions in the final standings or to solidify their spot at the top. Final HOA standings are posted at

Heart of America champions will race on Sunday, September 20 at the CyMan Triathlon near Bondurant.

Posted by: Dennis Green | September 14, 2015

Heart of America Champions Wave!

hoaSMThirty-four winners of the 2015 Heart of America (HOA) Championship series have the opportunity to race for the Championship crown Sunday, Sept. 20 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 2016.

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:
  • Brita Loynachan
  • Kathryn Cater
  • Tami Fiala
Male Overall:
  • Dave Steines
  • Mathieu Cagnard
  • Craig Goldsmith


  • Kim Sprenger
  • Guy Olson

19 & Under:

  • Hanna Fusselman
  • Sam Lundry


  • Melanie Rabino
  • David Roney


  • Elaina Mertens
  • Adam Kassem


  • Joanna Hall
  • Jacob Johnson


  • Jill Snitko
  • Matthew White


  • Anne Hilleman
  • Jeff Scharpman


  • Jody Rausch
  • Mark Theuerkauf


  • Tonya Armstrong
  • Keith Kenel


  • Nancy Fox
  • Ted Olson


  • Ann Vestle
  • Gary Watts


  • Kay Wallin
  • Willis Sneller


  • Fred Hemsath


  • Ron Ottaway


  • Lyle Roberts
Posted by: Heart of America News | September 9, 2015

The Clones, The Hawks, and The Conch

Screenshot 2015-09-09 14.13.05The Heart of America Triathlon Series wraps up on the home turf of Iowa’s largest universities again this year. Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon(IBDT) will take place Sept. 12 at the Coralville Reservoir. Cyman will once again be the championship race for the Heart of America series at Lake Bondurant on Sept. 19.

If your race season tends to wind down when school starts, you are missing some of the most pleasant race conditions of the season. Generally, the water is still pretty warm into mid-September, and the sun not as intense.

Both races will feature Sprint as well as Olympic distances, and are very popular among collegiate triathlon teams around the Midwest. IBDT will serve as the championship race for the Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference. The Cyclones pride themselves on being one of the biggest collegiate teams in the Midwest, both in numbers and in team spirit. Last year, they started each race by blowing a large conch shell, which rapidly became famous throughout the conference. Hopefully, we’ll see the conch this year as well.

IBDT will be the Heart of America series racers’ last chance to pile up points in the hopes of qualifying for the Heart of America Championship wave at Cyman.

The 2014 IBDT men’s champions at both distances, Josh Madsen for the Sprint, and Adam Kassem in the Olympic, will return to defend their titles. On the women’s side, Kim Sprenger, 2014 IBDT runner-up, sits in the top 4 of the overall Heart of America standings, and will be looking to move up with a strong race.

Both races are still open for registration. Sign up for IBDT at and Cyman at

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 18, 2015

Feel The Heat-2015 Pigman Long

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

View the Pigman Long Photo Gallery

Pigman RunnersA hot, muggy Iowa summer day didn’t deter a full field of triathletes from competing in the 2015 Pigman Long.

Nearly 500 racers hit the 81-degree Pleasant Creek Lake. While the water was too warm for wetsuits, it didn’t stop many swimmers from posting impressive times. The race started under overcast skies and surprisingly cool and pleasant conditions.

Those pleasant conditions didn’t last very long, however. The sun came out, the humidity grew thick, and the temps climbed into the 90’s. And yet, it didn’t deter the athletes or spectators from enjoying one of Iowa’s greatest triathlon traditions.

Blake Becker of Wisconsin dueled with perennial Pigman champ David Thompson for the men’s crown. The two were within a second of one another through the entire bike and most of the run. Becker won the head-to-head duel, however, edging Thompson with a winning time of 4:03:43.

On the women’s side, Dani Fischer of Indiana smoked the course. In her first season as a pro, she led the field for the entire race, winning in 4:31:43.

For complete race results, go to

Some traditions are meant to be broken, though. Race Director John Snitko treated everyone to some pleasant surprises for this year’s Big Pig. All three legs of the race were given a makeover. The bike and run courses were changed from the traditional out-and-back, which took racers away from the crowd, to a series of loops through the park.

This enabled much of the race to be held on roads which were closed to other traffic, making it a safer experience for competitors with the added benefit of allowing more contact with fans and family who had come out to cheer them on. Response to the changes were overwhelmingly positive.

“The old course was very good,” said Roger Cherry, “but this new route was much more enjoyable. Those out-and-backs took you through no-man’s land. You didn’t get much of a chance to see anyone else. This new way lets the people see you more and cheer you on. That’s huge when you’re pushing yourself.”

Another positive change was the addition of a VIP area, situated at the bike-in and bike-out of the transition. For a small fee, spectators could sit in the shade and enjoy catered food and drinks, and cheer on their favorite athletes in comfort. (For more on the new VIP area, see the related article.)

Even though a mid-August 70.3 race can be a daunting challenge, John and his staff have proven that when you combine great organization and attention to detail with imagination and creativity, you have one of the Midwest’s premier racing experiences

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 18, 2015

Pigman Changes Make for a Better Spectator Experience

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

Pigman VIPsDespite the racing teams and tri clubs, triathlons are pretty much an individual sport. Racers generally train on their own, and for the most part, are out to beat their own personal bests, not to beat a particular competitor.

And those cheering them on are usually the loyal family members and significant others, standing in small groups with hand-made signs and cowbells. Except for Kona, and sometimes during the Olympics, triathlon coverage in the mainstream media is limited.

That’s why John Snitko’s brainstorm is such a great idea.

For the 2015 running of the Pigman Long, Snitko introduced a VIP area, complete with picnic tables, food and drinks, and a commanding view of the race. For a small fee, race fans could relax comfortably and cheer on their favorites.

“Having your own designated Porta-Potties alone is worth the price of the wrist band,” said volunteer Sue Schnelling.

Snitko, owner of JMS Racing Services and director of the Pigman triathlons, is a long-time superfan of triathlon and is always looking for ways to prosper the sport and to make race day an enjoyable experience for all involved.

With the new course layout,” he said, “I wanted to make sure the fans had a safe place to watch the race. It gets rough finding a place where you’re out of the way and can still see what’s going on.”

Snitko agrees that the sport of triathlon is growing stronger every season. More first-timers are entering the Heart of America series, bringing their entourage of family and friends to cheer them on. It’s also growing as a spectator sport. Fans of the race are coming out in greater numbers to experience the excitement of triathlons. Soon, such venues like a VIP area will be a necessity on race days.

Tim Palmer, a member of the Midwest Extreme Tri Club, and professional caterer, provided the food for the VIP area. He was impressed with the concept.

“I think John has really come up with a great idea. This is really trend-setting,” he said. “This area gives people a nice place to watch the action and enjoy some amenities at the same time. Places like this can only help draw more fans out for races.”

This sure beats sitting in a lawn chair on the side of the road,” said one fan enjoying a yogurt parfait and orange juice while doing the Sunday crossword. She paused for a moment to cheer her son out the transition and on to the bike course.

The placement of the VIP area was not only great for fans, but Palmer observed he thought there was another benefit.

“It can only help the performance of the runners,” he joked. “They’re going to smell hamburgers and sweet corn about a mile up the road. That kind of enticement can only improve their final times.”

A win-win for spectators and competitors alike.

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 15, 2015

Live Pigman Results

Pigman LongFollow your favorite racer live during the Pigman Long!

Whether you’re watching the Pigman Long live from the new spectator-friendly course, or checking on a friend from across the country, use the link below for live results.

The 2015 edition of the Pigman Long sports an all-new course. The entire 4 loop run will be within Pleasant Creek State Park, and spectators will be able to easily get to the bike course to cheer on bikers multiple times as they ride the 4 loop course. The park roads will be closed to traffic during the triathlon.

Click here for Live Results.

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 5, 2015

Pigman Long Course Rolls Out the Red Carpet

Pigman LongA special VIP section will provide friends and family of Pigman Long Course racers with the ultimate spectator experience on August 16.

Race director John Snitko has changed the bike and run course to provide spectators with multiple chances to cheer on the racers. The bike course will now include a loop that will pass by the entrance of the park multiple times.
The run will take place entirely within the park, making this one of the most spectator-friendly races in the country.

But that’s not all. The Pigman Long will also feature a unique VIP area, with covered seating, private restrooms, and refreshments. Attendees can also nosh on delicious refreshments that will range from breakfast items to a salsa and guacamole bar.

VIP passes are just $19 for adults. Availability is limited, so order yours today!

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