Posted by: Dennis Green | June 6, 2018

TRI Clear Lake – Prettiest Race Around

Screenshot 2018-06-06 15.36.02The Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, like Chambers, is charged with promoting the highlights of their community to attract businesses, residents, and tourists. The Clear Lake Chamber figures that one way to showcase the beauty of their area is to let triathletes experience it first hand, in the water, and along scenic byways.

A new race to the Heart of America series, TRI Clear Lake, on June 9, takes place in one of Iowa’s premier summer destinations. The 750 meter swim starts and ends at State Park Beach. The bike is 12.4 miles and winds south through scenic prairie and windmills. The 5K run ends in City Park, right in the middle of downtown.

The race  was founded in 2017 by Carrie Tysdahl and Jake Kopriva. Carrie did her first race in 2005, and became hooked immediately.

TRI Clear Lake is the only race in our series whose finish line is right in the middle of downtown. Race organizers promise a fun Finish Line party to celebrate completing the race!

More info at We’ll have pictures and a race wrap-up here at at the conclusion of the event.

Posted by: Dennis Green | June 3, 2018

2018 Pigman – A Breeze

by Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News


High School Champs Quinton Gay, Weston Turner, & Anthony Lee

When a ninety-degree heat wave broke the day for the 2018 running of the Pigman triathlon, over 500 athletes breathed a sigh of relief. The water temperature in Pleasant Creek Lake dipping just into wetsuit-legal territory, and the only thing that kept the day from perfection was a stiff head wind on the bike.

Click here for more pictures.

There were few complaints, though, and as usual, the staff and volunteers in East Central Iowa’s biggest triathlon put on a smooth and well-organized race.

The only fly in the ointment was a delay in displaying the results on the big screen, which eventually was traced to an update pushed out by the timing software vendor, which took down not only the Pigman, but several other races as well.


High School women’s champions Emily Fusselman, Alyssa Neese, and Sydney Jones.

Kevin Denny of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, won the men’s race in 1:02:54. Maddy Pesch, a Grinnell College alum now living in Madison, Wisconsin, claimed the women’s crown, with a winning time of 1:09:47.

For the first time, the Pigman served as the USA Triathlon High School Championship race. Quinton Gay and Emily Fusselman, both of Cedar Rapids, won the inaugural competition.

Check out the full race results at

Posted by: Dennis Green | May 31, 2018

Pigman Adds High School, Collegiate Divisions

by Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News

DSCN3613.JPGThe Pigman Triathlon adds two new divisions for the June 3rd race, one a state championship.

USA Triathlon has selected the Pigman to be the Iowa High School State Championship race. High school students from around the state will be at the race competing for the state crown. Any student entering grades 9-12 can enter this division. Recent graduates are not eligible. Students will compete as individuals, not under the banner of a school.

The race will also be a part of the Midwest Collegiate Conference Triathlon Series, which will attract athletes from colleges in Iowa and nearby states.

Participants in the high school and college divisions will begin the race in wave starts that will begin after the women’s and men’s elite waves. All other age groups will take off in time trial starts after the first four waves are in the water.

USA Triathlon officials will also be at the race this year. If you haven’t for awhile, please familiarize yourself with the most commonly violated rules and penalties.

Over $4000 in cash prizes will be awarded at the race, including a $750 bonus for the first athlete to cross the finish line. The men’s and women’s elite waves will be gender-equalized, with the elite women’s wave going off 5:28 before the men, which is the difference between the men’s and women’s course records.

Age group winners also receive a free entry to next year’s race.

Dozens of door prizes, including the traditional goodies from Gear West Bike & Triathlon, will also be given away.

With a fast, flat course, the Pigman is a great race for experienced triathletes and beginners alike.

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.




Posted by: Dennis Green | May 6, 2018

TriByKnight 2018: The Perfect Way To Start The Season!

by Ron Adkins



The seventh running of the TriByKnight sprint triathlon was pretty much ideal for an early-season race. The weather was nearly perfect, course conditions were excellent, and staff and volunteers kept all aspects well organized.

2018 marks the debut of TriByKnight in the Heart of America Triathlon Series, and the first race of the HOA season. Co-director Carrie Tysdahl sees the race’s inclusion on the calendar as a win-win for all involved. She noted an uptick in registrants this year, which means fresh athletes and greater competition. “This is the perfect race for the beginning of a season,” Carrie said. “It’s great for people wanting to try the sport for the first time, or for veterans who want to ease into competition after the long break.”

Held on the Wartburg College campus in Waverly, Iowa, TriByKnight utilizes the school’s state-of-the-art natatorium. Newcomers to the sport, who might be leery of an open water swim, “get their feet wet” in a climate-controlled pool. The bike course takes racers along good roads to the outskirts of town and back, and the run loops through campus and the college’s stadium.

TriByKnight, noted Alex Syhlman of True Time Racing, is the only Heart of America race with a Jumbotron. That, he says, grinning, is a definite perk.

Many TriByKnight first-timers included veterans to the Heart of America series, as well as experienced marathon runners. Several members of the Midwest Extreme Tri Club sported their colors on the course, as did racers from Luther College’s tri club.

Cayla Bellamy of Waterloo, part-time triathlete and full-time professor of music at the University of Northern Iowa, was very pleased with the level of competition. “It was a much faster race than last year,” she says. “Lots of new runners who raised the bar.” Less than two minutes separated the top five in the men’s category, while less than three minutes stood between first and second place for the females.

The battle for men’s champion was a tug-of-war between Adam Kassem of Iowa City and Luke Anderson of Waverly. Luke was very strong in the water and first off the bike but, as is often the case, it was Adam’s speed on the run that propelled him first across the finish line. He came under the arch with a 1:01:15. First place female honors went to Elaina Biechler of Dubuque with an impressive 1:08:39.

For complete race results, log on to

One of the real strengths of TriByKnight is the passion of its volunteers. The race co-directors enlisted the aid of legions of student – including the Wartburg football and wrestling teams — and dedicated members of the Waverly community. Racers, volunteers, and spectators alike drew energy from Penny Ruthgen’s infectious enthusiasm. She helped at the bike-out and seemed to know the first name of each racer. Everyone got a smile, a cheer, and a psychological push as he or she kicked off for the ride.

This kind of positivity, and the race coordinators’ attention to the little things, are a huge part of a triathlon’s success. It definitely made for a successful seventh running of TriByKnight, and a fun start to the 2018 Heart of America series.




Posted by: Dennis Green | May 2, 2018

Please Welcome… TriByKnight

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News

tribyknightTwo races join this season’s Heart of America roster. First up is TriByKnight in Waverly on May 5.

TriByKnight was the first tri in the Waverly area and, much like the CyMan Triathlon later this season, the entire event is coordinated by college students.Co-directors, Heather Zajicek, Sheila Kittleson, and Carrie Tysdahl are all students at Wartburg College.

 2018 marks the 7th running of TriByKnight. For such a relatively young race, Heart of America Director Alex Syhlman says it is one of the most popular early-season events in the area. It’s a USAT-sanctioned sprint distance race (300-yard swim, 15-mile bike, 5K run), held entirely on the Wartburg College campus.

Schuldt Natatorium

The swim is a time-trial pool start in the Schuldt Natatorium, a state-of-the-art facility that serves both the college and the Waverly community. Bike and run legs follow courses around the college campus.

The race website declares TriByKnight is perfect for those just getting started in the sport. The temperature-controlled, indoor swim should be particularly attractive to beginners.

As of this writing, registration is still open at Check-in and transition open at 6:30am on May 5.

Contact the race directors at 319-352-8717 with any questions, or consult the TriByKnight website at for more information.

Posted by: Dennis Green | February 23, 2018

New Races, New Divisions for 2018

2018 brings new races and some exciting new regional competitions for the Heart of America series.

The season begins early this year, on May 5, with TRIByKnight, put on by the Wartburg-Waverly Sports & Wellness Center, known locally as The W. You won’t need a wetsuit, as the 300-yard swim is indoor, followed by a 15-mile bike and 5K run. The race is in its seventh year.

TRI Clear Lake is our other new race, held in one of Iowa’s most beautiful water attractions, on June 9. Maybe because Clear Lake is awesome, this race has a long swim by sprint standards, 750 meters. The bike is 12.4 miles, and the run a 5K.

Two new regional competitions are coming to The Pigman on June 3, perennially one of the series most popular events. The Pigman will host the Iowa High School Triathlon State Championship, and will also be a part of the Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference Series. Pigman race director Alex Syhlman says getting more young people involved will be great for the Pigman and for triathlon in Iowa.

Here is the full Heart of America schedule:

Watch this space for updates and previews of our new and heritage races, along with other profiles and tips throughout the triathlon season!

Posted by: Heart of America News | November 2, 2017

Shower With Your Bike, and Other Helpful Tips

Off-Season Maintenance, Part One

by Ron Adkins, Heart of America Triathlon News


dscn5468-e1509630510189.jpgThe race season (in the Upper Midwest, at least) is in the books, and triathletes everywhere are looking forward to a good long rest period. Yet, even though you may want to store the gear away for off-season, don’t hang up the bike just yet.

The triathlete’s bike is arguably the most important (and by far the most expensive) piece of race equipment the athlete owns. Thaddeus Walters and Andy Brimeyer of Goldfinch Cyclery in Cedar Rapids say too often bikes come in to their shop that sat idle and ignored for months. A little preventative and ongoing maintenance saves a costly repair or replacement.

Thaddeus and Andy recommend taking your ride into a trusted cycle shop (preferably one that specializes in racing bikes) for a tune-up three times a year – before the season, at least once during, and very soon after the season ends.

“Think of it as the same as taking your car in for a regular oil and filter change,” says Andy. “It’s relatively easy and saves money and repair in the long term. Most places offer good deals in the dead of winter.”

If you prefer to do your own maintenance, Andy and Thaddeus point out some important things to remember:

Make sure the quick-release gears and all bolts are tightened. Don’t be stingy with the chain lubricant.

Give the bike a good wash before it is stored for off-season, and after every 200 miles during the season. Sweat is corrosive, and if not removed, the salts and acids in sweat gradually do big damage.

“It’s not uncommon to see bearings and other parts rusted out from sweat dripping down, or from being covered by a sweaty towel,” says Thaddeus. “But please, please don’t wash the bike with a power washer,” he adds. “A little mild degreasing soap and a soft rinse is all it takes.”

If weather permits some winter training time, pay very close attention to tire pressure. This is crucial in the colder months. Just as with your car, fluctuations in temperature cause air to leak from tires. Snow plows tend to chew up roads and streets, so be conscious of wear and the overall condition of the tires, as well.

Road salt and sand are the biggest off-season enemies to bicycles. They can chew up metal parts, brakes, brake pads, and wheels surprisingly fast. Again, attention to detail and a good wash will help fend off any costly damage.

“If your spouse is nice, take your bike with you when you shower,” jokes Thaddeus.

“We’re seeing a lot more cyclists coming in for regular tune-ups,” continues Andy. This trend, he adds, reflects what he has been reading in triathlon and industry publications – that there is a change in attitude among triathletes toward diligent preventative maintenance.

Thaddeus hopes this trend continues – not only for the sake of the bike, but for the safety of the rider. “I want to see triathletes treat their bicycles the same as they treat their body. Keep it in good shape, put some miles on it regularly, and get in for a checkup.”

Posted by: Heart of America News | September 25, 2017

2017 CyMan: One Hot Autumn Race!

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


Normally, the CyMan Triathlon crowd is bundled up and clutching mugs of coffee. Sadly, not this year.

The Summer of unpredictable Iowa weather carried on into Autumn, with sunny skies and a high in the 90’s. Water temperature at Lake Petocka near Bondurant was, surprisingly, a wetsuit-legal 74 degrees. Lack of rain and unseasonable temps caused an unexpected algae bloom, which made the in-water start challenging. But the 250-plus triathletes gathered on Sunday, September 24, took the heat, the sun, and the annoying flora in typical stride.

They came to race.

DSCN5532DSCN5531Cy-Man holds a distinctive place in the Heart of America Series. While it is the last race on the HOA calendar, it is actually the first race of the following season. The top Series points leaders come to CyMan to race in the Championship Wave, which determines the Series winners. Top finishers in the Championship Wave earn free entries into next year’s races.

Top overall Sprint finishers were Adam Kassem, who came out of the water like a rocket and never looked back. He posted a 1:08:03. Jennifer Groos was not very far behind, finishing strong with a 1:14:18. The fastest team honors went, ironically, to Team In No Hurry with a 1:27:39.

First place Para Triathlon honors went to Ashley Eisenmenger. Though sight-impaired, Ashley crossed the finish line in an incredible 1:30:36.

The Olympic swim was shortened to 750 meters because of the condition of the waterGreg Dowe crossed the line first in the Olympic, notching a 1:56:53 win. Melanie Kraft took top female honors with a 2:13:31.

Complete overall race results can be found at

Congratulations to our Heart of America Triathlon Series winners! Points winners raced in a special championship wave, and the finish times were age-equalized. Brita Loynachan and Guy Olson were crowned 2017 Champions and earned free entry into all 2018 Series races.

dscn5536.jpgCollegiate triathletes from a several schools across the Midwest competed at CyMan this year for top collegiate club honors in this conference championship race. The home team put up a particularly good showing, as Iowa State Triathlon club members Reece Linder took top male honors, with a 1:52:39. Fellow Cyclone Meaghan Easler won the women’s race with a 2:01:30.

The University of Minnesota placed first in the overall team standings. Minnesota also took top men’s division honors. The University of Wisconsin-Madison took home top female division honors. Special mention should be made of Newman University of Wichita, Kansas. The Jets placed in the top five in all three team categories.

CyMan is the only race in the HOA Series that is organized by student athletes. Members of the Iowa State University Triathlon Club, once again, put on a great event. Race coordinators, being the exceptional students they are, said they would take everything they learned this year and apply it to the 2018 CyMan, making it even better.

They also promised to have a pot of coffee ready, just in case.




Posted by: Heart of America News | September 3, 2017

Heart of America Champions Wave!

hoaSMThirty-four winners of the 2017 Heart of America (HOA) Championship series have the opportunity to race for the Championship crown Sunday, Sept. 24 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 2018.

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. Complete points standings.

Here are the champions!

Female Overall:
  • Tami Fiala
  • Brita Loynachan
  • Katie Cater
Male Overall:
  • Jacob Ehrmann
  • Adam Kassem
  • Jim Hagelie


  • Ann Vestle
  • Dave Steines

19 & Under:

  • Kasandra Rosenbum
  • Quinton Gay


  • Meaghan Easler
  • Eddie Graham


  • Emily Feldkamp
  • Sean Austin


  • Emily Eisenman
  • Christopher Bell


  • Jill Snitko
  • Daniel Kresowik


  • Laura Moeller
  • Keith Luegering


  • Kathy Christensen
  • Mathieu Cagnard


  • Alisa Staskal
  • Austin Jones


  • Lori Sindelar
  • Ted Olson


  • Nancy Fox
  • Guy Olson


  • Clara Decoster
  • Patrick Decoster


  • Sandi Campbell
  • Fred Hemsath


  • Dale Olson


  • Ron Ottaway

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