Posted by: Heart of America News | June 12, 2016

Pigman Sprint 2016 – 25 Years of Excellence

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

2016-06-05 07.41.44It 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.

More Pigman photos

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

2016-06-05 11.13.37Competitors 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!’”

Posted by: Heart of America News | May 23, 2016

Hickory Grove 2016 – A Perfect Season Start

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

There’s something great about the first triathlon of the season.

Rookie or veteran, expectation is as palpable as the scent of Bug Soother wafting from transition. Racing buddies re-start friendly rivalries. Everyone hits the water pale-skinned and full of optimism after the winter hibernation.

The 2016 running of the Hickory Grove races was packed with smiles, hugs, and handshakes as 200 triathletes laced up for the opening of the Heart of America Triathlon Series. The weather was perfect. Race conditions at Hickory Grove Park near Colo, Iowa were optimal and held the promise of a fast course.

That promise was kept, as racers posted remarkable times, many of them personal bests.

Again this year, Race Director Alex Syhlman offered three race choices – sprint triathlon, duathlon (run/bike/run), and aquabike (swim/bike), to best tailor racer to race.

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Reece Linder smoked the triathlon course, coming in first across the line with a 1:06:49. Laura Moeller topped the women’s race posting an impressive 1:19:44.

In the duathlon, Tim Petrie finished first with a 1:05:38. Top female honors went to Amelia Borgomainerio with a 1:26:04.

Top male in the aquabike was Steven Traynor, posting a 1:07:05. Valerie Schroeder was the first female aquabiker, in at 1:08:31.

Complete race results can be found at

This continues to be a popular race for triathletes of all skill levels. Syhlman was pleased that nearly a quarter of the field were first-timers to the race. Also encouraging was the number of triathletes for whom this was their third, fourth, or even fifth time racing at Hickory Grove.

Hickory Grove remains a popular race to begin a triathlon career. With such excellent course conditions at Hickory Grove Park, and the race choices offered by Syhlman, Hickory Grove is ideal for those new to competition.

And a steady influx of enthusiastic new triathletes, Syhlman agrees, is the best indicator that a race – and the triathlon sport in general – will remain healthy in the future.

Posted by: Heart of America News | March 22, 2016

No Dam Race This Year

Officials tell us that Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon will not be held in 2016. Organizers hope the race will return in 2017.

Posted by: Heart of America News | January 17, 2016

2016 Series!

By Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News

It’s well below zero as of this writing, so let’s warm up by thinking ahead to race season!

I know some of you are planning your event calendar, so even though a couple of dates are awaiting final approval, here is how the 2016 Heart of America Schedule looks:

Hickory Grove Triathlon– May 22

  • Sprint Triathlon, Duathlon, Aquabike

Pigman Sprint Triathlon – June 5

  • Sprint Triathlon

Quad City Triathlon – June 18

  • Sprint Triathlon

Bluff Creek Triathlon – July 31 (tentative)

  • Sprint & Olympic Distances

Camp Courageous Triathlon – August 7

  • Sprint Triathlon

Pigman Long Course Triathlon – August 21

  • Long Course Triathlon

Cy-Man Triathlon – Sept. 18

  • Sprint & Olympic Distances


Posted by: Heart of America News | October 2, 2015

Sharp Dressed Man

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

At first glance, you’re not sure if 23-year-old Byron Smith heard the announcer correctly when he decla2015Cyman10red the water “wetsuit legal.” You stand there, looking at Byron as he stands at the lake’s edge.

In a business suit.

Granted, he looks quite dashing, but you do question his sanity. Until you get to know him. Then you realize that he is quite sane and his heart is definitely in the right place.

“It’s all about having fun out here,” he says with a big grin. “I try to high-five everyone out on the course, to make them smile and remind them that this is a very fun sport.”

The recent Cy-Man was the second race Byron competed in formal attire. Although, he specifies, “This is the first time I’ve worn a tie. I try to be a little more formal with each race.” His chosen tie was a tasteful thin number that went well with the fedora he wore on the run.

Cy-Man marked the 20th tri Byron has raced in the past three years. Cy-Man was also his very first triathlon back in 2012. He has no plans to stop competing, if you calls what he does ‘competing.’ He finished third in his age division with an impressive 1:33:48 – a time that would have been slightly more impressive had he not turned around to retrieve the fedora that flew off about five yards from the finish line.

“I would have felt naked crossing the line without it,” he said with a straight face. (This reporter, however, was laughing out loud.)

Byron graduated from Iowa State University last year with a degree in aerospace engineering. “I want to design apps for mobile devices, but I would jump at the chance to be an astronaut. I’m always changing goals.”

Byron finds the swim leg of the race the most enjoyable. This is ironic, considering that by the time he leaves the water and mounts his bike, that business suit is providing about 150 pounds of extra drag. “It gets lighter as it dries out on the bike and run, so no worries,” he says.

He grew up as a runner, and picked up swimming in high school. After graduating ISU, he moved to Minneapolis and continues to train with the University of Minnesota Triathlon Club. “My only other sport is Frisbee,” he says.

Byron says he plans to continue racing triathlons for a long time. “They’re a great way to stay in shape and to meet lots of fun people,” he says. “I love to make people smile.”

If competing in a suit is the way he’s found to put a grin on a bunch of game faces, then more power to him.

Posted by: Heart of America News | September 21, 2015

CyMan Caps Off One Season, Kicks Off Another

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

 2015Cyman20CyMan 2015 is a busy way to cap off the local triathlon season. It’s actually four races in one. 130 triathletes gathered at Lake Petocka near Bondurant, Iowa, to compete in either the Sprint, Olympic, Heart of America championship, or Collegiate divisions.

While CyMan represents the championship race of the 2015 Heart of America season, it is also the opening event for 2016. Points earned at the CyMan count toward next year’s standings. 

Heart of America points winners raced in a special champion wave, and finish times were then age-equalized. The top five age-equalized times win free entries next year.

2015Cyman22Kim Sprenger of Iowa City won the Championship wave for the women. Points champ Brita Loynichan was second, with Ann Vestle, Tami Fiala, and Jill Snitko rounding out the top five.

Guy Olson of Cedar Rapids topped the leaderboard for the men, with points champ Dave Steines just behind. Adam Kassem, Fred Hemsath, and Craig Goldsmith also finished in the money.

For complete Heart of America Series final results, visit

The CyMan is the Iowa State University Triathlon Club’s main event, and a qualifier for Collegiate Nationals. The top collegiate male was Alex Hershey with a 2:10:14. First place female was Hannah Eldridge at 2:34:50.

Athletes couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was downright autumnal, with crisp morning air, near cloudless skies, and a brisk breeze. Water temperature for the swim leg was a balmy 77 degrees.

Ryan Long of Omaha, was the first male across the line in the Sprint, clocking a 1:09:51. Top female honors went to Zoe Sirotiak of Des Moines with a 1:21:15.

The top male in the Olympic distance was Eric Prilip of Dubuque, coming in at 2:19:33. The top female was Laura Moeller of Ankeny, with a 2:34:39.

Full results at

Posted by: Heart of America News | September 17, 2015

Have You Hugged A Volunteer Today?

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

Christy Hatter

Christy Hatter with Jon Weih

Ask any race director. He or she will tell you the same thing: Triathlons can’t be run without the work of volunteers.

You see them everywhere – at the check-in table, marking numbers on the triathletes, keeping things smooth out on the course. They’re usually wearing a bright t-shirt in some neon shade but, ironically, they’re often invisible to competitors and spectators alike.

And yet, they’re arguably the most important people at the race. Volunteers do everything from setting up transition to cutting up bananas. They’re who you ask for directions to the bathroom, or for the current lake temperature. They do all of this and don’t get paid a cent.

Why do this?

“Because,” Christy Hatter says matter-of-factly. “It’s fun. I have a great time and meet some great people. Triathletes and their fans are the best.”

Christy served as the volunteer coordinator for the 2015 Camp Courageous Tri Sprint, an annual event to raise money and awareness for the camp’s mission to help challenged individuals reach their full potential. Christy’s job was to enlist the army of volunteers needed for the race, then assign each volunteer his or her particular task. Then, come race day, she followed up with each volunteer and made sure everyone was in the right place. Once all was set, she manned the welcome table and greeted everyone with a bright smile.

“I loved it,” she beamed. “I had a great team. They were wonderful to work with.”

Granted, she says with a little irony, Christy and all the other volunteers could be sleeping on a Sunday morning before the sun comes up. But for Christy and company, it is their way to contribute to the cause.

Christy has retired from a career with Trans-America. She has volunteered for different causes, including for Camp Courageous in the past, but only when time and job permitted. “Now, I’m back to do it again. Only this time I don’t have that job to get in the way.”

“I have a cousin with special needs, so for a long time I was very active with Special Olympics,” she said.

“I think Camp Courageous is a very good organization,” Christy added. “It serves a populations that tends to get overlooked.”

While she boasts being a die-hard fan of triathlons, Christy admits that extent of her competitive nature began and ended with doing the Polar Plunge in Minnesota.

Has she ever considered doing a triathlon herself?

“Not a chance,” she said, shaking her head vigorously. “I’m very happy volunteering and making things run smoothly for the real competitors.”

Posted by: Heart of America News | September 14, 2015

Best Dam Tri 2015: Cool Weather, Hot Race

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

IBDT women's start

Click on the image for the full IBDT photo album.

That collective chattering of teeth you heard echoing off the Coralville Reservoir were from the 230 triathletes huddled together for the 2015 Iowa’s Best Dam Tri. Sunday morning, September 13, started out brisk, but as the sun rose over Coralville Lake, the day promised near-perfect race conditions.

High levels of e coli bacteria in the lake water proved to be the only glitch. Race Director Leah Dematta switched a duathlon. All participants ran 1 mile, then split into the normal bike and run distances for Sprint and Olympic. Competitors took the changes in stride, and Dematta was pleased that the race began so smoothly.

“Nature is the only thing we can’t control,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

The triathletes, however, were in complete control of their performances, posting some amazing times. Joanna Hall of Coralville, came in first for the females in the Sprint division with a 1:03:15. Josh Madsen of North Liberty made it two in a row. The 2014 champ crossed the line first for the men with a 58:55:96.

The infectious enthusiasm of several collegiate teams kept all the competitors pumped. Spectators who weren’t there to cheer on a team member found themselves cheering on an alma mater or just a favorite school. Iowa’s Best Dam Tri is also the championship race for Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference. College triathletes from across the Midwest came ready to win and all teams scorched the course. Top female collegiate honors went to Melanie Rabino of Woodbury, Minnesota, with a 2:09:34. The first collegiate male across the line was Jonathan Echevers of Chicago, Illinois, posting a 1:50:22.

Overall Olympic winner for the females was Deanna Shepherd of Bettendorf, finishing in 2:27:23. Top Olympic male was Adam Campbell of Cedar Falls, with a 2:00:04.

For complete race results, visit

Iowa’s Best Dam Tri also represents the final race in the 2015 Heart of America Triathlon season. Contenders for top Heart of America honors came ready to improve their positions in the final standings or to solidify their spot at the top. Final HOA standings are posted at

Heart of America champions will race on Sunday, September 20 at the CyMan Triathlon near Bondurant.

Posted by: Dennis Green | September 14, 2015

Heart of America Champions Wave!

hoaSMThirty-four winners of the 2015 Heart of America (HOA) Championship series have the opportunity to race for the Championship crown Sunday, Sept. 20 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. The top five athletes in the wave, in both male and female divisions, win free entries to HOA races in 2016.

Participants of any age could claim the top prize, as times are age-adjusted according 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.

Here are the champions!

Female Overall:
  • Brita Loynachan
  • Kathryn Cater
  • Tami Fiala
Male Overall:
  • Dave Steines
  • Mathieu Cagnard
  • Craig Goldsmith


  • Kim Sprenger
  • Guy Olson

19 & Under:

  • Hanna Fusselman
  • Sam Lundry


  • Melanie Rabino
  • David Roney


  • Elaina Mertens
  • Adam Kassem


  • Joanna Hall
  • Jacob Johnson


  • Jill Snitko
  • Matthew White


  • Anne Hilleman
  • Jeff Scharpman


  • Jody Rausch
  • Mark Theuerkauf


  • Tonya Armstrong
  • Keith Kenel


  • Nancy Fox
  • Ted Olson


  • Ann Vestle
  • Gary Watts


  • Kay Wallin
  • Willis Sneller


  • Fred Hemsath


  • Ron Ottaway


  • Lyle Roberts
Posted by: Heart of America News | September 9, 2015

The Clones, The Hawks, and The Conch

Screenshot 2015-09-09 14.13.05The Heart of America Triathlon Series wraps up on the home turf of Iowa’s largest universities again this year. Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon(IBDT) will take place Sept. 12 at the Coralville Reservoir. Cyman will once again be the championship race for the Heart of America series at Lake Bondurant on Sept. 19.

If your race season tends to wind down when school starts, you are missing some of the most pleasant race conditions of the season. Generally, the water is still pretty warm into mid-September, and the sun not as intense.

Both races will feature Sprint as well as Olympic distances, and are very popular among collegiate triathlon teams around the Midwest. IBDT will serve as the championship race for the Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference. The Cyclones pride themselves on being one of the biggest collegiate teams in the Midwest, both in numbers and in team spirit. Last year, they started each race by blowing a large conch shell, which rapidly became famous throughout the conference. Hopefully, we’ll see the conch this year as well.

IBDT will be the Heart of America series racers’ last chance to pile up points in the hopes of qualifying for the Heart of America Championship wave at Cyman.

The 2014 IBDT men’s champions at both distances, Josh Madsen for the Sprint, and Adam Kassem in the Olympic, will return to defend their titles. On the women’s side, Kim Sprenger, 2014 IBDT runner-up, sits in the top 4 of the overall Heart of America standings, and will be looking to move up with a strong race.

Both races are still open for registration. Sign up for IBDT at and Cyman at

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