Posted by: Dennis Green | May 21, 2018

Weather or Not, A Strong Race

By Ron Adkins


DSCN5734Triathletes who race at Hickory Grove are one hearty bunch. Last year’s running was under grey skies, spitting drizzle, 42-degree temperatures, and 35 mph winds. 2018 saw moderately better conditions — grey skies still, but warmer (57-degree) temps, and only a slight breeze. Said one triathlete with a grin, “At least it’s not raining.”


That’s the spirit!


Race Director Alex Syhlman worried that overnight thunderstorms might crimp the 2018 Hickory Grove Triathlon Sprint, Duathlon, and Aquabike. The storms passed through, however, leaving behind a damp course but high spirits.


Triathletes hit the 72-degree Hickory Grove Lake near Colo, and began a very competitive race.


Less than 90 seconds separated first place and second in the female Aquabike. Enita Larson of Omaha pulled ahead of Michelle Stout of Ankeny, finishing with a 1:00:37 to take top Aquabike honors. Duane Fritchie of Lees Summit, Missouri crossed the line first in the Aquabike with a 52:10 for the males.


Carolyn Weber stood atop the leaderboard in the female duathlon, coming in at 1:26:04. Lincoln Murdoch smoked the course in the men’s duathlon. His 1:10:25 finish was almost two minutes faster than John Monger, 30 years Lincoln’s junior.


Evan Culbert was first out of the water in the triathlon swim and remained the one to beat. Tyson Wieland and Matthew Gardiner kept pace, though, trading leads in the bike and run. Culbert’s cumulative score of 1:01:53 was enough at race’s end to crown him the male champion. 


Culbert also schooled the field on racing outside the comfort zone. On such a brisk, grey day, Culbert swam without a wetsuit, then rode the bike and ran the 5k in a Speedo. Now that’s tough!


It was a three-way footrace among the female triathletes, with Sharon Heyer, Carrie Van Quathem, and Mandi Kowal each in command of one the heats. One minute separated first place from third, with Sharon Heyer coming out on top with a 1:19:55. 


For complete race results, visit


DSCN5773A special acknowledgment goes out to 72-year-old Cathy Todd. The final athlete to cross the under the finish arch, she ended the race tired but elated, buoyed on by cheers and applause from family and race volunteers who had remained behind to make sure she had a cheering section. Cathy took home the ribbon for first place among the 70+ females. 


Stark weather at Hickory Grove has almost become the norm. Even the heartiest of the field shivered a little as they “warmed up.” But by start time the game faces came on and the chill was forgotten.




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