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
Posted by: Heart of America News | August 21, 2017

No Hydration Worries At Bluff Creek

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News



Click here for more photos.

Bluff Creek race director Alex Syhlman had his doubts before sunrise. The pre-dawn sky was lit by lightning, and strong winds and rain threatened to wash out the final race of the 2017 Heart of America series.


But ever the optimist, Alex banked on a break in the weather just long enough to squeeze in at least the Sprint and Aquabike. The strategy worked. The rain tapered off as the sun rose, and the winds died down considerably. By start time (delayed an hour to guarantee the front had passed) the sun peeked through. Conditions got better and better as the race went on.


“And of course, we cancel the Olympic distance and the weather clears up,” joked Alex. Triathletes who gathered on August 20 at Don Williams State Park near Ogden took it all in stride. Olympic racers jumped to the Sprint and spirits were high as swimmers hit the 75-degree water.


Weather woes and wet grass aside, the Bluff Creek course was surprisingly fast. The bike and run courses were in great shape and the lack of wind meant smooth waters for the swim. First place overall finisher for the females was Laura Moeller of Ankeny with a 1:13:23. Sean Austin of Ames crossed the line first for the males with a 1:01:44. First place honors in the Aquabike went to Steve Lentz of Iowa City with a 49:59.


For complete race results, log on to


Bluff Creek caps off the 2017 Heart of America season. Contenders in the points standings pushed themselves even harder to gain higher final positions. Each Heart of America champion gets the opportunity to race in the Champions Wave at the Cyman Sprint on September 24. The top five athletes in the wave, in both male and female divisions, win free entries to Heart of America races in 2017.

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 13, 2017

Heart of America Standings


With one race left in the 2017 Heart of America series, Brita Loynachan and Jacob Ehrmann lead the standings.

Jacob jumps into the lead on the basis of strong finishes at Accel and Camp Courageous, but Adam Kassem, who won both of those races, is not far behind, even though he has raced just five times this season compared to Jacob’s six.

Brita placed third in points in 2016, then won the champions wave. She is racing in Minnesota on the 20th, so won’t be at Bluff Creek, but expect to see her in the Champions Wave at Cyman.

Top Five Females and points:

  1. Brita Loynachan: 6039
  2. Tami Fiala: 5410
  3. Ann Vestle: 4303
  4. Katie Cater: 3529
  5. Kathy Christensen: 3243

Top Five Males and Points:

  1. Jacob Ehrmann: 5048
  2. Adam Kassem: 4786
  3. Drake Austin: 4605
  4. Jim Hagelie: 4411
  5. Dave Steines: 4332

The stats include results Hickory Grove, Pigman, Quad Cities, Copper Creek, Accel, and Camp Courageous, plus Cyman 2016.


The 2016 Women’s Champs at Cyman

After the Bluff Creek Triathlon on August 20, we’ll announce points champions in Overall, Masters, and Age Group categories. Those champions are invited to race in a special Heart of America wave at the Cyman Triathlon on Sept. 24, racing to qualify for free race entries in 2017. Times are age-equalized to give all athletes an equal chance.

View the full results at

We’ll post standings again after the Bluff Creek race.

Posted by: Heart of America News | August 7, 2017

2017 Camp Courageous: Different Course, Same Great Race

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


No matter where the race is run, the Camp Courageous Triathlon is a sentimental favorite of the Heart of America Triathlon Series.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 marked the 8th running of Camp Courageous, and the first to be held at Prairie Park Fishery, along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids. The race’s traditional site, Central Park near Amber, Iowa, was unavailable, as the Iowa DNR is dredging the lake. Race Co-Director Nick Gearhart reported that an astounding 13,000 dump truck loads of sand and silt have been removed from the lake bottom.

If all goes as planned, he added, the race should be back home next season. Until then, however, the 250 triathletes registered to compete had many positive things to say about the alternate site. Bikers and runners complimented the smooth fast courses, and the swim-in was nearly ideal for the time trial start. The continued break in the August heat kept the water at a wetsuit-legal 76 degrees.


Men’s Winner Adam Kassem

Once Adam Kassem of Cedar Rapids finished his swim, he took control of the course and never looked back. He posted an impressive 1:07:50 to notch an overall win for the men, and notched his second Heart of America series win this season. Top female finisher Joanna Hall wasn’t far behind, coming across the line with a 1:13:09. First, second, and third place overall finishers were awarded a plate, hand-designed and painted by a Camp Courageous “camper.”

For complete race results, visit

There’s always a special energy surrounding the entire event. Camp Courageous proudly boasts that it is the only race in the Heart of America series to have a live band motivate the crowd. Horse Theory (formerly Summertown), a local jam trio, rocked covers, original material, and groove improvs in a three-hour set.

The Camp Courageous Tri Sprint always brings out the best in everyone involved. And the most enthusiastic participant, year in and year out, must be Christopher Marner. Christopher is a camper who overcomes a physical disability to race the swim leg of the triathlon. When asked to choose his favorite part of the day, Christopher, a huge smile on his face, shouted, “Swimming!” And when asked if he was looking forward to next year, he shouted louder: “Yeah!!”

A sentiment shared by a good many more.

Camp Courageous, located southeast of Monticello, Iowa, is a year-round, non-profit recreational and respite care facility, funded almost entirely by donation and fund-raisers. Anyone, of any age, with a disability is welcome to attend. To learn more about the Camp, visit

The 2017 Heart of America season wraps up with the Bluff Creek Sprint and Olympic Triathlon on Sunday, August 20 at Don Williams State Park near Ogden, Iowa.

Posted by: Heart of America News | July 10, 2017

Accel 2017: It Just Keeps Getting Better

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


DSCN4283.jpgRace Director Tony Pollastrini was thrilled by the success of the 5th annual Accel Triathlon.

As if on cue, the week’s oppressive humidity dissipated, leaving behind a mild, sunny, and dry morning.

It was a vast improvement, Tony noted, from last year, when thunderstorms forced the race’s cancellation.

“We were just getting ready to get things going on the swim when on the horizon was a huge wall cloud.”

Water temperature at George Wyth State Park in Waterloo was a wetsuit-restricted 80 degrees, meaning those who choose to wear a wetsuit could still race but were disqualified from prizes or USAT points.

“Every race just keeps getting better,” he added. “We’re seeing solid growth every year.”

First female across the finish in the Sprint was Janet McCullough of Waverly, coming in with a 1:18:53. First-place male in the Sprint was Adam Campbell of Cedar Falls with a 1:10:41.

Across the line first for the female Olympians was Amanda Johnson of Waterloo, in at 2:29:35. Adam Kassem of Cedar Rapids was the first place Olympic male with a 2:07:51.

Find full results at


290 triathletes from 14 states hit the course on Saturday, July 8. Tony was excited by the strong numbers. “We have runners from as far away as New Mexico and Massachusetts competing today. And 290 is the most yet to register.”

Tony attributes part of the registration spike to Accel’s inclusion in the Heart of America Series. 2017 marks the first running of the Accel Sprint and Olympic on the HOA calendar. Tony sees this new partnership with Heart of America as the ultimate win-win-win for all parties involved. “Series athletes benefit from competing on a new course with racers they may never have encountered before, and Accel veterans get to compete against new blood.”

As the numbers show, Tony pointed out, the Accel can only get stronger as part of the Heart of America Series, with its resources and deep roster of talented triathletes. And the Series itself benefits from having such a well-executed race on its schedule.

Tony compliments his staff and legions of volunteers for 2017’s Accel coming off with nary a hitch. The race is put on by the Accel Group – an insurance and financial planning institution based out of Waverly and Cedar Falls. Tony himself is a triathlete, and a great many of the staff, who helped with the race, are runners or compete in other sports.

Tina Miller, Accel director of operations, thinks athletes organizing the race is nothing but a good thing.

“We’ve been on courses or have had to compete, so we have a good idea about what kind of problems might come up,” she said. “We can see through the eyes of those who are going to compete in the Accel and make it a great experience for them.”

That kind of expertise obviously pays off. Several runners crossed the finish line, turned in their timing chip, and sought out an Accel staffer to compliment the condition and speed of the course.

Tony pointed out that, “It was great to see about 30 people who are first-timers to triathlons. I think this is a very positive sign of growth for the sport.”

“Things just keep getting better.”




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

Heart of America Standings

Screenshot 2017-07-06 15.34.09

Brita Loynachan and Daniel Kresowick lead the Heart of America Standings through the end of June.

Top Five Females and points:

  1. Brita Loynachan: 4255
  2. Tami Fiala: 3829
  3. Ann Vestle: 2831
  4. Anne Hilleman: 2562
  5. Emily Feldkamp: 2263

Top Five Males and Points:

  1. Daniel Kresowick: 4035
  2. Sean Austin: 3860
  3. Eddie Graham: 3828
  4. Jim Hagelie: 3509
  5. Dave Steines: 3425

The stats include results Hickory Grove, Pigman, Quad Cities, Copper Creek, plus the Cyman Sprint and Cyman Olympic from 2016.

View the full results at

We’ll post standings again after the July races.

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

Copper Creek 2017 – More Powerful Than A Locomotive!

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


The 2017 running of the Copper Creek Tri Sprint was a race of many firsts:

  • Copper Creek’s 11th year was also its first as part of the Heart of America Triathlon Series.
  • This year marked the first Copper Creek to include an Olympic distance course.
  • It was the first time in memory that any Heart of America race was delayed in anticipation of a coming train.

(It is also one of the rare races located near a coffeehouse, so that racers and spectators alike could grab a quick cuppa to wait out the aforementioned train.)


Men’s Sprint Winner Kris Spoth

Race Director Mike McGinn kept in contact with Union Pacific Railroad and hoped that pushing back the start time would guarantee a smooth race. The train, however, had other intentions. It came through the course anyway, stalling most of the field on the wrong side of the tracks. This glitch did nothing, however, to diminish the high spirit of the day.


(more race pictures)

The only other person this complication really dealt fits was race timer Alex Syhlman of True Time Racing. Poor Alex had to determine who got across before the train came through, and who got stuck on the other side. He then had to perform some serious mathematical acrobatics to make sure everyone’s time posted accurately.

Nearly 300 triathletes gathered at Copper Creek Lake Park. Course conditions were excellent. Race time weather was near-perfect, with light winds, sunshine, and a 75-degree lake temperature. Copper Creek has a distinctly suburban feel, as the park is part of the Des Moines bedroom community of Pleasant Hill.

A full third of the field competed in the inaugural Olympic distance. McGinn was pleased not only with the strong turnout, but also with the number of triathlon veterans sharing the Olympic course with student athletes from Iowa’s universities and colleges, and schools from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Finish times for athletes of all levels were as strong as the good spirits and energy levels. Top female Sprint finisher was Maeghan Easler of Des Moines, with a 1:08:06. Top Sprint male was Kris Spoth, coming in under an hour with a 58:55. In the Olympic race, the female crown went to Tamara Gorman of Rapid City, South Dakota, in with a 2:09:05. First place male was TJ Tollakson of Des Moines with a 1:57:21.

For complete race results, go to

Alex Syhlman acted also as the Heart of America Series representative, and was a prime advocate for Copper Creek’s inclusion in the Series. He agreed with McGinn that the field for Copper Creek this year lived up to the race’s consistently high standard.

“It’s a good course,” Syhlman said, “and there’s always strong competition. Copper Creek has a great reputation and I think it’s going to be a good fit with the rest of the Heart of America Series.”

Posted by: Heart of America News | June 18, 2017

No Wetsuit, No Problem – Quad Cities 2017

uphillrunFew athletes look forward to swimming in cold water. But careful what you ask for.

Water temperature in the mid-70s on Saturday gave way to an astonishing 84.7 degrees as the eighteenth running of the Quad Cities Triathlon began, meaning no wetsuits. The warm water was especially surprising as thunderstorms rolled through the area the night before the race. Director Eric Sarno allowed, during his pre-race comments that he and the weather had “a very serious conversation” in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

(More race pictures)

But by race time, the skies had cleared and conditions were good. As the morning wore on, the breeze picked up. But that was good news, as it gave riders a tail wind on the back half of the course.

“The head wind was pretty brutal heading out,” 50-54 champ Brita Loynachan confessed. “But after the turnaround it felt great.”


2017 Champion Sean Austin

The men’s race was close from the get-go. Local favorite Sam Lundry was first out of the water, hitting the beach more than a minute ahead of 2016 champion Sean Austin of Ames. The two dueled on the bike course, and at the beginning of the run, Sean had shaved Sam’s lead to less than thirty seconds. Sean passed Sam after the turnaround, nosing him and third-place finisher Jeff Paul at the finish.

Joanna Hall of Coralville won women’s race in 1:17:43. 2016 champion Laura Moeller of Ankeny was second.

The Quad Cities race is popular for veterans and newcomers alike. Over one hundred racers made their debut at the event. At the other end of the spectrum, John Pfautz of Davenport, was back after a few years off.

“I think I did all right,” he said.

Full results at this link.

Posted by: Heart of America News | June 4, 2017

2017 Pigman – Just About Perfect

By Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


Race Director John Snitko couldn’t have asked for much better conditions on Sunday, June 4, for the 2017 running of the Pigman Sprint Triathlon, and the times proved it.


Kevin Bowden & Pete Ylvisaker mug for the camera pre-race. Ylvisaker is the only person to have perfect Pigman attendance, competing in all of the race’s 26 years.

A pre-dawn squall passed quickly, leaving a colorful sunrise and a near cloudless sky. Despite the heat – 80 degrees at start time – the humidity was barely noticed. Water temperature at Pleasant Creek State Park near Palo, Iowa, was a tepid, wetsuit-legal 73 degrees. Pigman participants were the first swimmers to enter the water after last year’s dredging of the lake, which is still officially closed to swimming. Despite a recovering water level, which put the start and finish of the swim in muck rather than sand, everyone seemed glad to see the lake returning to normal.


Click here for Pigman Pictures.

Conditions for the bike and run were equally good. Roads in and around the park were in optimal condition and promised the prospect of some record-breaking times.

And Jake Rhymer delivered. The Florida resident torched the course, breaking David Thompson’s five year-old course record and becoming the first person to break sixty minutes in the Pigman’s twenty-six year history, with a 59:29. Alex Libin of Colorado Springs also beat Thompson’s mark, coming in second at 1:00:06.

First female across the line was Heather Lendway of Saint Paul, Minnesota, posting an impressive 1:08:32.

For complete race results, visit

The Pigman Sprint has earned its praise for being a premier Sprint triathlon. Its reputation is nationwide, as triathletes from dozens of states make the trip to compete. Word of the Pigman is even reaching overseas. Eduardo Celis had heard of the Pigman in his native Peru, and while in Iowa decided to put the course through its paces.

A full quarter of this year’s registrants were either new to the Pigman, or new to triathlons in general. Such strong numbers of fresh competitors bode well for the future of the race. Whether or not the race conditions are as optimal as 2017, the Pigman can look forward to many great races in the years to come.

Posted by: Heart of America News | May 21, 2017

Hickory Grove 2017: Cold Day, Hot Race

by Ron Adkins

Heart of America Triathlon News


More Hickory Grove pictures on the Heart of America Facebook Page.

It was a fast and frigid start to the 2017 Heart of America Triathlon Series. Nearly 200 stalwart triathletes and their legion of loyal* supporters were treated to cloudy skies, brisk wind, and 45 degrees as they gathered for this years’ running of the Hickory Grove Triathlon, Duathlon, and Aquabike on May 21.

(by loyal, read: “Oh my good goodness, it is beyond chilly and I must really love this crazy person for dragging me out of bed on such a morning!)

Race time water temperature at Hickory Grove Park near Colo, Iowa, was not just westuit-legal. At sixty degrees, it was pretty much parka-legal.

The November-like conditions did nothing, however, to diminish enthusiasm to kick off the season with a strong race. Two dozen or more competitors raised their hands and cheered when asked if Hickory Grove was their first-ever triathlon. Kari Anderson of Johnston, came ready to run but needed a little friendly persuasion to get to the park. When asked why she competed in Hickory Grove, she enthusiastically replied, “Because my friends are assholes.

While conditions were cold, the course heated up quickly, with several competitors boasting personal best times.

First male across the line in the Triathlon was Nathan White of Johnston, posting a 1:06:49. Maeghan Easler of Des Moines took first place in the women’s race with a 1:15:39.

Top Duathlon finishers were Tyson Wieland of Dallas Center, in with a 1:05:25, and Jill Snitko of Marion (who spent a very soggy Saturday the day before directing the Marion Arts Festival Races), with a 1:32:49.

In the Aquabike, Duane Fritchie of Lees Summit, Missouri placed first with a 54:04, while Michelle Stout of Ankeny took top female honors with a 1:05:20.

Full race results here.

Race Director Alex Syhlman was pleased that, despite the chilly morning, racers were enthusiastic and ready to compete.

“It was a great way to kick off the 2017 season,” he said.

Such enthusiasm bodes well for the next Heart of America race. Triathletes are already psyching up for the Pigman Sprint, one of the cornerstone races of the HOA Series, on June 4.


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