116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
By Dennis Green
Hickory Grove was run as a duathlon in 2012.
For the first time, athletes in the Heart of America series can race twice in two days. The Quad Cities Triathlon and Hickory Grove race are the same weekend, June 15 and 16.
You may remember that due to continuing problems with e coli levels in the water at Hickory Grove Park, race officials there thought they would have to cancel that race after 2012. However, after some thought, race director Alex Syhlman realized that the problem generally occurred late in the summer. His other race, Bluff Creek, had no such issues. So, he decided to switch the races out, moving Bluff Creek from May to August, and running Hickory Grove earlier in the season. However, June 16 was the only date available.
Another new wrinkle this year is that Hickory Grove will include a duathlon (run-bike-run) and an aquabike (swim-bike) in addition to the triathlon.
'The trail in the park has also been expanded,' Alex says, 'so there will be a little more trail running this year.
Alex's long-time business partner Steve Karsjen has retired. Brittany Heard, previously with the Peregrine Charities race, has joined the team as co-race director. Brittany is a USAT certified race director.
The always stylish Eric Sarno.
Meanwhile, in the Quad Cities, race director Eric Sarno is once again gearing up for a big day. He says a change for this year is a modification of the swim course.
'We've switched to an out and back course. When we went to the time trial start format a few years ago, we went to a triangle layout because we thought it would spread people out more, but our lifeguards and rescue boat folks said that didn't really happen. Plus, we have so many first timers, we want to make the route easy to see and stay on track.'
For the elite men and women, Eric is going back to a wave start.
'We'll start the elites in a wave about two minutes before the age groupers,' he says. 'This is to make the race a little more spectator friendly. With a time trial start for the elites, it's less likely that the first person across the finish line is the winner. Of course, it's always possible someone racing age group could end up winning, but this makes the event a little more fun for the people watching.'
Another change is the elimination of the race goodie bag. 'We're going to a 'virtual race bag,' Eric explains. All participants get an email with exclusive offers from our sponsors, available only to those who've entered the race. They won't get a bag full of paper. We're trying to be a little more green.'
The Quad Cities race has been filled for months, 720 participants, including teams. Past champion Jen Foley leads the women's field. No past champions return on the men's side, so it's anyone's race. Hickory Grove still has slots available.
As always, stroke awareness information is a part of the Quad Cities race. A stroke survivor, Eric donates race proceeds to stroke awareness and rehabilitation. Read Eric's story here. First timers experiencing pre-race jitters can get relaxation tips at the pre-race dinner, June 13. Psychologist Robin Peterson will be the guest speaker.
Pat Kenel, Heart of America 2012 winner for her age group, is doing both races. 'I used to run Dam-to-Dam the day before Pigman, so it's not a big deal. Should be fun.'
Are you going to 'play two?' Let us know in the comments.