Posted by: Dennis Green | May 29, 2011

Race Preview – Pigman Sprint

2011 is a big year for the Pigman Sprint as the race celebrates its 20th anniversary.  Race director John Snitko has a variety of cool stuff planned to celebrate the occasion.

For those who’ve never raced the Pigman before, the event takes place in and around scenic Pleasant Creek State Park, near Palo, Iowa.  The park was constructed in the 70s at the same time as the nearby Duane Arnold Nuclear Plant, partly to provide a source of water for cooling the reactor.  In the years since, Pleasant Creek has become a popular local destination for swimming, boating, fishing, and of course, some of the best triathlon racing in the state.

The bike course loops through downtown Palo, whose residents often turn out to cheer on the participants.  The run stays within the confines of the park itself, a pretty out-and-back route with some nice shade.

Recent additions that make the Pigman unique are the time-trial start format, where the participants of each wave line up single file, and enter the water at 3-second intervals, and a gender-equalized start.  The elite female wave starts the swim first, with the males entering the water a few minutes later.  This makes it possible for the first finisher to be either male or female, and increase the excitement of the finish.

The history of the Pigman contains many names familiar to triathlon fans.  The DeBoom brothers, who grew up in nearby Cedar Rapids, were early participants.  In fact, two-time Ironman World Champion Tim DeBoom still holds the record for the original Pigman Course.

The current course records are held by David Thompson (2008) and Cathy Yndestad (2007).  Thompson’s Gear West Bike & Triathlon teammate Brian Bich owns three Pigman crowns, as does Iowa State alum and Gear West Bike & Triathlon chief Kevin O’Connor.  Kevin has also raced strong over the last two years, with consecutive runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2010.

Kevin, whose company is also a race sponsor, says the Pigman is worth the drive from the Twin Cities. “It is a little bit of “big event” atmosphere along with Iowa charm.  The event has the feel that it belongs to the athletes of Iowa.  Even though it is a 5 hour drive I continue to attend after 20 years because not attending is like missing the party.”

For 2011, race director John has increased the total prize purse to $4750.  There will be cash prizes for the top 20 non-elite male and female finishers.  Also, $750 will be awarded to the first person of either gender who crosses the finish line.   More prize details are available on the Pigman site.

The Pigman is a favorite among experienced and elite racers, but it is also a great first race, with its flat course and big, friendly crowd of fellow participants and spectators.

You have to register early, however.  The race has been full since Mid-January.  John is taking names for the waiting list.  Check out to get on the list and for other late-breaking race news.


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