Posted by: Dennis Green | August 8, 2016

Camp Courageous 2016: A Series Favorite For Many Reasons

by Ron Adkins


More Camp Courageous photos at this link.

Triathletes get pumped for the Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon for a lot of reasons. Many of them have nothing to do with the race itself.

Matt Frandsen of Des Moines was bouncing on his heels before the start of the swim. “I am so ready to go!”

This was his first time racing Camp Courageous Triathlon. He heard about it through his girlfriend, Mattie McDowell of Cedar Rapids, also racing for the first time. Their reasons for racing go beyond the competition.

“My grandmother was a volunteer for Camp Courageous for many years,” she said. When she passed, said Mattie, the family decided to carry on her legacy.

This was Harold and Christine Haycock’s third time volunteering. Their duties this year were to direct traffic at transition. Christine confesses to having little knowledge of triathlons, but that doesn’t diminish her enthusiasm. She and Harold stood at the opening to the bike-out, mugs of coffee in hand, and cheered every racer as they jetted out for the cycle leg.

“The whole (Camp Courageous) organization is wonderful,” says Christine. “It offers campers, who don’t have the ability to do something like this race, a place where they can thrive and learn what amazing abilities they do have.”

Camp Courageous, located southeast of Monticello, Iowa, is a year-round, non-profit recreational and respite care facility, funded almost entirely by donation and fund-raisers. Anyone, of any age, with a disability is welcome to attend. To learn more about the Camp, visit

Harold and Christine agree that their favorite triathlete is a man who captures the hearts of competitors and spectators alike each year. Christopher Marner is a camper who overcomes a physical disability to race the swim leg of the triathlon. This year, he was part of team Mighty Marners, composed of his brother, David, who raced the bike leg, and his sister-in-law, Hanna, who ran the road race. When asked if he was excited to be back for this year, Christopher’s mother, Joan, disclosed that he was more excited to go to lunch right after the awards ceremony, and then to Camp Courageous for a week.

This race marked the seventh annual running of the Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon, held this year at Central Park near Amber, Iowa. Triathletes couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday morning on August 7, to compete. Race director Nick Gearhart was thankful that the long string of great weather held out for another year. Water temperature was barely-wetsuit-legal at a balmy 78 degrees. The air was warm but generous cloud cover kept the sun from being a factor.

The nearly 200 triathletes came to race, and posted some seriously fast times.

Laura Moeller from Ankeny, Iowa took top female honors, posting a 1:19:33. Laura also won this season’s Quad Cities Triathlon. Christopher Lam of Rochester, Minnesota and a student at the University of Illinois, crossed the line with a 1:08:18. Complete race results can be found at

IMG_9264Participants also saluted a triathlon veteran. Mike Van Horn of Cedar Rapids raced in the very first triathlon held in Iowa, and perhaps the first triathlon held in the continental U.S., an indoor event in 1980. Van Horn suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, but that didn’t stop him from anchoring the run leg of the “Parkinson’s Warriors” team.


His teammates on the Midwest Xtreme team roared when he crossed the finish line. And Mike was so pumped, he immediately dropped to the ground and did twenty pushups!



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