Posted by: Heart of America News | June 25, 2017

Copper Creek 2017 – More Powerful Than A Locomotive!

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


The 2017 running of the Copper Creek Tri Sprint was a race of many firsts:

  • Copper Creek’s 11th year was also its first as part of the Heart of America Triathlon Series.
  • This year marked the first Copper Creek to include an Olympic distance course.
  • It was the first time in memory that any Heart of America race was delayed in anticipation of a coming train.

(It is also one of the rare races located near a coffeehouse, so that racers and spectators alike could grab a quick cuppa to wait out the aforementioned train.)


Men’s Sprint Winner Kris Spoth

Race Director Mike McGinn kept in contact with Union Pacific Railroad and hoped that pushing back the start time would guarantee a smooth race. The train, however, had other intentions. It came through the course anyway, stalling most of the field on the wrong side of the tracks. This glitch did nothing, however, to diminish the high spirit of the day.


(more race pictures)

The only other person this complication really dealt fits was race timer Alex Syhlman of True Time Racing. Poor Alex had to determine who got across before the train came through, and who got stuck on the other side. He then had to perform some serious mathematical acrobatics to make sure everyone’s time posted accurately.

Nearly 300 triathletes gathered at Copper Creek Lake Park. Course conditions were excellent. Race time weather was near-perfect, with light winds, sunshine, and a 75-degree lake temperature. Copper Creek has a distinctly suburban feel, as the park is part of the Des Moines bedroom community of Pleasant Hill.

A full third of the field competed in the inaugural Olympic distance. McGinn was pleased not only with the strong turnout, but also with the number of triathlon veterans sharing the Olympic course with student athletes from Iowa’s universities and colleges, and schools from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Finish times for athletes of all levels were as strong as the good spirits and energy levels. Top female Sprint finisher was Maeghan Easler of Des Moines, with a 1:08:06. Top Sprint male was Kris Spoth, coming in under an hour with a 58:55. In the Olympic race, the female crown went to Tamara Gorman of Rapid City, South Dakota, in with a 2:09:05. First place male was TJ Tollakson of Des Moines with a 1:57:21.

For complete race results, go to

Alex Syhlman acted also as the Heart of America Series representative, and was a prime advocate for Copper Creek’s inclusion in the Series. He agreed with McGinn that the field for Copper Creek this year lived up to the race’s consistently high standard.

“It’s a good course,” Syhlman said, “and there’s always strong competition. Copper Creek has a great reputation and I think it’s going to be a good fit with the rest of the Heart of America Series.”

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