Posted by: Heart of America News | August 3, 2014

Camp Courageous 2014 – Great Race, Great Racers, Great Fun

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America News

The Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon, in only its 5th year as part of the Heart of America Triathlon Series, has built its solid reputation by being an event that is not only competitive, but also a tremendous amount of fun.

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All triathletes who enter know they are racing for more than prizes and Series points. They are also supporting an amazing organization.

As Race Director Nick Gearhart explained during the pre-race meeting, one hundred percent of the registration fee is used to support Camp Courageous. This declaration was met with thunderous applause. 250 triathletes gathered at Central Park, near Amber, Iowa on Sunday, August 3, for another exceptional day for racing.

Lake temperature was a wetsuit-legal 74 degrees. The string of cool, near-cloudless days continued to lift spirits. Gearhart, the race committee, and dozens of volunteers succeeded in creating a party atmosphere. Cheers, applause, and cowbells were encouraged. Singing and dancing couldn’t be stopped, since this year’s race came with its own soundtrack. Cedar Rapids band Summertown rocked the racers with a mix of covers and original songs. “

Next year,” said Gearhart, “we’re thinking of putting in some kind of slip-n-slide at the finish line. Wouldn’t that be great? Finishing the race hot and tired and being able to slide into the cool lake?”

This year’s race also marked some exceptional returns. Camp Courageous “camper” Christopher Marner swam for his team a year ago. He returned to do it again this year, showing the same infectious enthusiasm and high spirits as before. He was greeted by cheers and applause as he hit the beach, and he thanked his supporters with a huge smile, a fist-pump, and lots of hugs. Christopher is this year’s recipient of the Courage Award, presented to a competitor who demonstrates remarkable spirit in overcoming obstacles.

Also marking his triumphant return to triathlons was Ron Ottaway. The undisputed heart of the Midwest Extreme Triathlon Club, Ron fought a battle with cancer that left him unable to compete. Now in remission, he chose Camp Courageous as the first (of many) tri’s still to come. (For more about Ron’s incredible story, see the article on this page.)

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Returning champion Barry Breffle not only wore #1, he was first to rack his equipment bright and early Sunday morning.

Returning men’s champion Barry Breffle of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made it two in a row, crossing the finish line with a 1:05:45 – an almost identical time to last year. Female champion Elaina Mertens of Dubuque, Iowa, posted a 1:16:05. For complete race results, visit


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