In just its third year, TRI Clear Lake has become a favorite race for triathletes around the Midwest.
Nearly 300 participants raced this year, and universally agreed the experience was scenic and fun.
TRI Clear Lake takes advantage of its location by adding a few meters to its swim, which is 750 meters rather than a sprint’s traditional 500. But since the course hugs the shore, you can touch bottom for much of it, making the race comfortable for beginners as well as veterans.
A slightly shorter bike, 12.4 miles, makes up for the longer swim. Todd Dalecky of Cedar Rapids said even though the bike course was flat, there were some interesting cross breezes, probably due to the intersection of lake breeze and an Iowa prairie windy enough to power the windmill farm that also lay along the course.
The run follows scenic South Shore Drive, along the lake’s edge and even past the legendary Surf Ballroom before ending in the heart of downtown, where the TRI Clear Lake After Party awaited participants and spectators.
Eamonn McCullough of Waverly, bettered his runner-up finish from 2018, sprinting ahead ahead of Matt Ostbloom of Waterloo in the final 800 yards, to win with a time of 1:03:48.
On the women’s side, Kaletta Caldwell collected a huge hug from co-race director Carrie Tysdahl, her former Tri coach, when she crossed the line with a winning time of 1:07:14, just ahead of last year’s 3rd place finisher, Erin Anderson of Decorah.
There were many first-timers at Clear Lake this year, but none captured the hearts of the crowd more than Kaleb Johnson of Omaha, racing with his dad, Matt. Kaleb, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has been a regular figure at Midwest road races, but this was his first triathlon. His mom Nicole Parker says that Matt and Kaleb have done a lot of road races, but this was their first triathlon.
“Kaleb will tell you that he is the motor and dad is the legs,” Nicole says.
Kaleb and Matt got some of the biggest cheers of the day when they crossed the finish line.