Posted by: Dennis Green | March 15, 2019

Hickory Grove Update

Here is an update from race director Alex Syhlman on this year’s Hickory Grove Triathlon:

“We have gotten a few questions about Hickory Grove 2019.

We are in the planning stages with a new race venue because the DNR has drained Hickory Grove Lake to make improvements. We do plan to have a race for you in 2019!

Hope to have more details we can share with everyone by the end of the March. Stay tuned!

Posted by: Dennis Green | March 9, 2019

Jump-Start Your Season at TriByKnight

Beat the price increase and register by March 15

DSCN5630As of this writing, there is still a couple feet of snow on the ground, but we’re (pretty) sure it will all be gone on May 4, when the Heart of America Triathlon Series season begins with TriByKnight in Waverly, Iowa. 

TriByKnight takes advantage of facilities in the Waverly community and nearby Wartburg College. The swim takes place in the comfort of The W, a state of the art facility that serves both as a training center for Wartburg athletics and a community fitness center. And the run concludes in Wartburg’s Walston-Hoover Stadium, right on the fifty-yard line. Finishing the run on a flat, fast collegiate track is sure to give your finish an extra shot of adrenaline (not to mention seeing your name flash across the scoreboard)

TriByKnight, in its eighth year, was the first triathlon in the Waverly area. Race director Heather Zajicek, who is also the Aquatics and Facilities Director for The W, says the construction of the center has actually contributed to the growth of triathlon locally.

“Triathlon wasn’t such a big sport in the Waverly area, since there hadn’t been an indoor pool,” Heather says. “But once the pool was built, more people got involved.”


For people new to the sport, staging the swim in a supervised, indoor pool can be a real confidence builder. But that applies to experienced racers as well, most of whom haven’t set foot in open water since the previous season. The race’s time trial start also helps, with swimmers starting individually at 10-20 second intervals. This eliminates the scrum of hitting the water in an age-group wave, another potential source of pre-race jitters.

The swim is 300 yards, swum serpentine, up and down each lane. The 15-mile bike takes you north through the rolling hills of the Cedar Valley, a couple of which Heather says are pretty challenging. The run is scenic and fun for both athletes and spectators, consisting of three loops around campus.

DSCN5628“It’s more spectator-friendly than most races,” Heather explains. “Usually you have to pick and choose a spot where you can see participants. But beginning in the pool and then with the three loops in the run, it’s a great opportunity to see racers multiple times.”

And for athletes accustomed to finishing their race in a park with porta-poddies and little running water, then driving home to clean up, getting to shower after the race in The W’s locker room is an unimaginable luxury!

Registration is now open for TriByKnight. Save $10 by registering before March 15 at

Complete race info is available at

Posted by: Dennis Green | January 21, 2019

2019 Heart of America Series Announced


The 2019 race schedule for the Heart of America series is set.

The season begins on May 4 in Waverly with TRI By Knight and concludes on Sept. 22 on the banks of Lake Bondurant at Cyman. There are seven races in the series this year. Everyone who participates receives series points. The more races you enter, the more points you accrue. At the end of the season, top points winners race in a special Champions Wave at Cyman to receive free entries in next year’s races.

Most races have early registration pricing. Save when you sign up early!

May 4, 2019
$60 early bird (through March 14)
$70 regular registration

Hickory Grove Triathlon
May 19, 2019

Pigman Triathlon
June 2, 2019
$65 for the first 100 entries
$75 early bird (through April 14)
$80 regular registration

TRI Clear Lake
June 8, 2019
$60 early bird (through March 15)
$70 regular registration

Quad Cities Triathlon
June 15, 2019
$63 early bird (through March 23)
$73 regular registration

Camp Courageous Triathlon
Aug. 4, 2019
$65 regular registration

Bluff Creek Triathlon
Aug. 18, 2019
$65 early bird (through May 14
$70 regular registration (May 15 – July 25)
$75 late registration (July 26 – 7pm August 18)

Cyman Triathlon
Sept. 22, 2019



Posted by: Dennis Green | September 25, 2018

Cyman 2018 – Perfect Ending

by Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News

Ideal weather made the final event of the Heart of America season a pleasure for athletes, spectators, and volunteers. Nearly 250 participants hit the cool water of Lake Petocka near Bondurant, then powered through a bike and run course that was flat and fast, with comfortable temperatures and light winds. The ISU Triathlon Club, led by president Kristina Swenson, ran a smoothly organized race that went off without a hitch.


Click here for Cyman pictures.

Cyman is the final race in the Midwest collegiate conference series, and attracted competitors this year from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Kansas, as well as Iowa. It was a particularly good day for the Golden Gophers, as Minnesota athletes captured both the overall crowns. Nikolas Pardoe won the men’s race with a 1:03:31, and Heather Taylor the women’s in 1:12:40.

Outside of the collegiate competition, the race was a tale of two Rons. Ron Geirut, fresh from winning the 60-64 age group at Sprint Nationals, torched the field. His 1:07:54 was the 6th fastest time of the day, and the envy of athletes a third his age.

Full Cyman results at this link.

Cyman is the championship race for the Heart of America series. Twenty-two points winners qualified to race in the Champions Wave for the chance to win free entries in 2019. The competition is age-equalized according to a formula developed by USA Track and Field.

2018 HOA men

Men’s Heart of America Champions Wave winners

Sentimental favorite Ron Ottoway, 81, has raced seventeen times at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, and has thrilled friends and fellow competitors with a return to racing after battling lymphoma in 2013. The crowd at the awards ceremony erupted in cheers when he was announced as the Heart of America Champions Wave winner.

Along with female champ Kim Sprenger, Ron wins free entries to each Heart of America race next year.

Congratulations to the rest of the top five, too!

HOA 2018 Women

Women’s HOA Champions Wave winners

2nd Place (4 free entries): Ann Vestle, Austin Jones

3rd Place(3 free entries): Brita Loynachan, Jim Hagelie

4th Place: (2 free entries): Katie Cater, Duane Staskal

5th Place: (1 free entry): Tami Fiala, Dave Steines.

(Correction Sept. 1, 2018: Fred Hemsath, 5th place winner, withdrew from the standings. Dave Steines moved up into the 5th place slot.)

Posted by: Dennis Green | August 28, 2018

2018 Final Heart of America Standings

HOA Logo 18Thirty-three winners of the 2018 Heart of America (HOA) Championship series have the opportunity to race for the Championship crown Sunday, Sept. 23 at Cyman.

Throughout the season, all athletes who participate in an HOA race get points for each race they do. At the end of the season, we recognize the top three overall point winners, top masters, and first place in each age group. The more you race, regardless to some extent of where you place, the higher your potential standings.

Each HOA champ gets the opportunity to race in the Champions wave at the Cyman Sprint. The top five athletes in the wave, in both male and female divisions, win free entries to HOA races in 2019.

Participants of any age could claim the top prize, as times are age-adjusted according to the formula used by U.S. Track & Field.

Heart of America points earned by Cyman participants this year will count toward series points next year. Click here for the complete standings.

Here are the champions!

Female Overall:
  • Kathy Christiansen
  • Tami Fiala
  • Nancy Fox
Male Overall:
  • Duane Staskal
  • F. Austin Jones
  • Todd Dalecky


  • Ann Vestle
  • Dave Steines


19 & Under:

  • Paige Werner
  • Quintin Gay


  • Kelly Schiro
  • Michael Libin


  • Emily Feldkamp
  • Adam Kassem


  • Elaina Biechler
  • Patrick O’Connell


  • Joanna Hall
  • Eric Henely


  • Anne Hilleman
  • Lane McMullen


  • Katie Cater
  • Mathieu Cagnard


  • Brita Loynachan
  • Jim Hagelie


  • Kim Sprenger
  • Ted Olson


  • Patty Croonquist
  • Greg Bailey


  • Clara Decoster
  • Dan Tucker


  • Cathy Todd
  • Daniel Murphy


  • Fred Hemsath


  • Ron Ottaway
Posted by: Dennis Green | August 21, 2018

Bluff Creek 2018-Great Day for Veterans & Newbies

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

There’s always an abundance of nerves before a race. Some have first-timer’s jitters. Experienced racers get intense as they put on their game faces. This was especially so at 2018’s Bluff Creek Triathlon. Attendance soared this year, with over 100 more triathletes at Don Williams Park near Ogden than in 2017.

Click here for pics and videos from the race.

13-year-old Alyssa Melchert of Boone was a first-timer. Her mother, Lisa, raced by her side. While this is only Lisa’s second time racing at Bluff Creek, she is actually a veteran. Most years, she is on board a kayak as part of the swim support crew.

The day proved an ideal introduction for all Heart of America Triathlon Series newcomers. Early morning haze burned off by start time, but a nice breeze kept things relatively cool. It’s summer in Iowa, so humidity and warm lake water remained factors. Water temperature was a balmy, wetsuit-optional 80 degrees.

Bluff Creek marks the final official event of the 2018 season. Throughout spring and summer, triathletes running Heart of America races collect points. Points leaders after Bluff Creek qualify for the championship wave at the Cy-Man Triathlon on September 23 near Bondurant. Cy-Man not only crowns the 2018 Heart of America champions, but is also, technically, the start of the 2019 season. Check out the updated standings list on this page.

Conditions for the bike and run were optimal and fast. Cyclists accepted the challenge of the hilly course and runners enjoyed the abundance of shade for their last push to the finish. Once out of the water, Robert Rehkemper never look


Click to hear Micah’s comments on her race.

ed back. He took the Sprint lead coming out of transition on the bike 9and maintained that lead for the rest of the race. He crossed the finish line with a 1:08:13.

First female across in the Sprint was 15-year Linn-Mar High School sophomore Micah Poellet. Micah was first out of the water but lost time on the bike (she admits that the bike isn’t her strongest). One of the fastest high school cross-country runners in the state, she made up for lost time in a big way on the run, blazing past everyone in front of her. Micah first got into triathlons because her parents signed her up for a race. She’s quickly on her way to mastering the sport. It’s a good thing she’s involved in so much at school (swimming, cross country, swing choir); she thrives on challenge. Hear her talk briefly about herself and today’s race by clicking here.

Adam Kassem was the first Olympic-distance triathlete across the line. Fresh from an excellent performance at the Boulder 70.3, Kassem notched his first Heart of America championship of 2018.  Joy Carroll took top honors for the Olympic females. Joy was strong in both the swim and bike legs, but lost some ground during the run. Her overall performance, though, kept her in first place.

For complete race results, log on to

Heart of America triathletes now focus on 2018’s final standings and the Championship Wave at Cy-Man on September 23. Those results will be posted here soon.





Posted by: Dennis Green | August 10, 2018

Heart of America Standings


Kathy Christiansen, Tami Fiala, and Nancy Fox are the point leaders in the latest Heart of America

Series Standings for women. Duane Staskal, Austin Jones, and Todd Dalecky top the leaderboard on the men’s side.

Click here for the complete Heart of America August Standings

The final race in the 2018 points series will be Bluff Creek on August 19, with the Championship Wave set for Cyman on Sept. 23.

Posted by: Dennis Green | August 6, 2018

Camp Courageous 2018: Too Much Heart to Rain Out

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

No Swimming

Prairie Park Fishery is only open to swimmers during the Camp Courageous Triathlon

The Camp Courageous Triathlon is, hands down, the sentimental favorite of the Heart of America series. Racers come from across the country – from Wilmington, Delaware and St. Joseph, Missouri, and everywhere in between – to take part.

Many, like Ken and Kim Kral of Hayward, Wisconsin, return every year because they have a personal connection with Camp Courageous. Ken and Kim worked as both volunteers and as paid staff several years ago. Once you experience the impact the Camp has on its guests, they said, it leaves and indelible impression.

Others race to raise money and awareness the year-round respite care and recreational facility near Monticello, Iowa. As Co-Director Nick Gearhart declared at the pre-race meeting, all money raised at the Camp Courageous Triathlon goes toward the facility and its programming. “None of us are getting paid,” said Nick. “It’s a labor close to our hearts.” Learn more about Camp Courageous at

Even lightning, rain, and strong winds didn’t stop the dedicated triathletes. They waited out a line of thunderstorms that rolled through just before start time. This turned out to be a mixed blessing. The air temperature and humid decreased noticeably, and the cloud cover made for a very pleasant day.

The threat of another line of storms added incentive to run a fast race. Joanna Hall of Coralville picked up her second female overall crown in a row. She led the pack the entire course and posted a 1:11:43 – a full 8-plus minutes ahead of second place Pam Connolly and third place Kim Sprenger. Chicagoan


Andrew Dabson’s lead over second place Tom Rutkowski and third place Duane Staskel was equally impressive. Andrew crossed the line at 1:06:53. You can hear more about Joanna’s and Andrew’s day on the course in their video interviews.

Full results at

So many little details make the Camp Courageous Triathlon a very special experience. Camp Courageous is the only triathlon in the Heart of America series to boast live music. The band Horse Theory returned this year to jam for the appreciative crowd.

The winners’ medals and trophies are all hand-painted by Camp Courageous guests. Receiving such a unique prize, many triathletes said, was the highlight of the race.

Racers show a tremendous amount of heart at the Camp Courageous Triathlon. Case in point was Tyler Hobart of North Liberty. He completed the entire run course in his volunteer fireman gear. Find out why in his video interview.

Whatever the inspiration, the Camp Courageous Triathlon boasts one of the HOA Series’ most loyal and dedicated followings. They wait out storms that could easily cancel the event. They push themselves harder, but they finish with smiles on their faces.

And they look forward to the next year.

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 29, 2018

Series Standings Coming Soon

We’re working on series standings thus far in 2018, and will post them as soon as they’re available.

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 17, 2018

Quad Cities 2018: So Hot In So Many Ways

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


(from left) Jeff Kaczinski, John Grice, Ann Vestle, Fred Hemsath, and Guy Olson have done all 19 Quad Cities Triathlons (with race director Eric Sarno).

(Click here for more race pictures)

The answer to almost every question at 2018’s Quad Cities Triathlon Sprint was,

“Hot.”How are you? Hot.

How was the lake? Hot.

How was the course? Hot.

Temperatures climbed steadily as the sun rose into clear skies. And because it is Iowa in June, with great heat comes great humidity. But oppression from Mother Nature did nothing to wilt the enthusiasm of the triathletes at Quad Cities. By start time, they were anxious to go.

With his trademark rallying cry, “It’s about to go down,” Race Director Eric Sarno sounded the horn and 500-plus racers hit the 80-degree water, so by USAT rules, competitors could wear a wetsuit, but would not qualify for awards.

First out of the water was North Liberty’s Josh Madsen with a commanding 8:05 – more than two minutes ahead of his closest rivals, Jeff Paul of Le Claire and Adam Kassem of Iowa City. Madsen remained the one to beat as he came in first off the bike course as well. The heat, Madsen admitted, affected his run time. He came in third off the run course behind both Paul and Kassem. But strong numbers in the swim and bike kept Madsen in first place with a 1:05:52. This was his first Quad Cities championship, after placing 2nd and 3rd in previous tries.

2017 women’s champ Joanna Hall of Coralville made it two in a row. She made up for lost time during the swim by smoking the bike course, hitting transition nearly two minutes ahead of Dubuque’s Elaina Biechler. Hall’s run was just strong enough to edge out both Biechler and Laura Moeller of Ankeny at 1:15:19.

For complete race results, log on to

According to Race Director Sarno, any triathlon sprint with over 300 registrants is considered a big race. If that’s the case, then the Quad Cities Triathlon Sprint is a big event, indeed. Registrations average 500 to 700 annually.

Races of that size come with certain expectations from the triathletes. By this 19thrunning of Quad Cities, Sarno has the details finely tuned. From a kid’s wading pool to wash the beach sand off the feet, to stationing the Healthy Habits Bicycle Shop tent close to the Bike Out for emergency repairs, such amenities help to enhance the warm mood.

Quad Cities is the easternmost race on the Heart of America calendar, drawing heavily from Illinois and Wisconsin triathletes. This benefits the HoA by introducing a different demographic to the series.

All this, plus infectious camaraderie and a popular course, make Quad Cities a hot one, indeed.


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