by Ron Adkins
Heart of America Triathlon News
It doesn’t matter which Pigman race you’re talking about – the Sprint on June 5, or the Long on August 21 – just saying the name “Pigman” jumpstarts a triathlete’s pulse.
Over the past 25 years, Race Director John Snitko has crafted the Pigman races into internationally respected competitions. Case in point, Hiroto Uegaki traveled from Japan just to run this year’s Pigman Sprint. Michael Hughes represented his native Ireland for the fourth time.
They come from Arlington, Virginia, and Saint Joseph, Michigan, and Leeward, Kansas. And they return year after year. Peter Ylvasaker has competed in all 25 Pigman Sprints. “I still can’t believe it,” he said about his accomplishment. Peter was in good company. A significant number of Pigman competitors have crossed the finish line multiple times.
The Pigman’s reputation allows its competitors a certain amount of clout they can use to forward causes dear to their hearts. Jeff Paul raced this year to raise money for his organization iHope. He uses any prize money and donations to fund scholarships and provide iPads to low income students who demonstrate outstanding character.
Course conditions made it a little tough to break any records this year at Pleasant Creek Park near Palo, Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has begun draining the lake for eventual dredging. This made the run-out from the swim about 50 feet longer than normal. The shallower lake also meant that swimmers kicked up mud as they entered. After the first dozen or so swimmers, the water was, as John Snitko described it, “a bit mucky.” After the first hundred took the plunge, conditions had reached Mississippi Delta proportions. And a set of railroad tracks in need of repair (repairs to start, ironically, the day after the race) slowed bikers down momentarily and tossed quite a few water bottles from bicycles.
Nothing, though, slowed down the triathletes’ enthusiasm or drive. David Thompson of Long Lake, Minnesota, took home his fifteenth Pigman crown with a respectable 1:02:35. He also scored the bonus $750 prize for being the first racer across the finish line. Suzie Fox of Chaska, Minnesota, was the first female finisher, posting a 1:12:51. Complete race results can be found at www.pigmantri.com.
Competitors and friends alike gathered after the race to pay tribute to a true hero. Mike Van Horne is currently battling Parkinson’s disease. Rather than let his condition keep him sidelined, he formed a team to compete this year, anchoring the run portion of the race. Mike is a long-time member of the Midwest Extreme Tri Club, and fellow club members were out in force to voice their support and admiration. Mike was presented an award by the team for his inspiration. He and his team dedicated this race to raising funds and awareness of Parkinson’s.
Mike, and everyone gathered to race the 2016 Pigman Sprint, couldn’t have asked for a better day. Clear, sunny skies and a slight breeze kept everyone’s spirits up. By the time the first runners crossed the finish line, the atmosphere had reached party proportions.
“I don’t know what it is about this race,” said Margaret Baumhoven of Cedar Rapids, triathlon cheerleader and expert cowbell ringer. “I have a daughter who does lots of these in the summer. They’re all fun to come to but this one is just wonderful. A week before, all I hear from her is ‘Pigman, Pigman, Pigman!’”