Race Radar: Iowa’s Pigman Triathlon

  • By Bethany Mavis
  • Published Jul 30, 2014

Located just outside of Cedar Rapids in eastern Iowa, the Pigman Triathlon is a local favorite and the longest-running race in the region—its long-course race has been around since 1998. The name comes from something Iowa is known for around the world: pigs. Organizers expect 600 total athletes this August—400 for the half-iron-distance race, and 200 for the Olympic-distance race.

The swim for both the half-iron-distance and Olympic races starts from Pleasant Creek State Park swimming beach, with water typically around 76 degrees. The bike is challenging but scenic, as it winds through Iowa’s scenic, bucolic countryside. The out-and-back run is on a country road with small rolling hills and has little protection from the sun. With the success of the half-iron-distance race, race organizers JMS Racing Services added an Olympic-distance race on the same day and a sprint race in June.

One of the main things that sets this local race apart from other races in the region is a large prize purse—Pigman hands out $4,900 total in cash awards to top elite, age-group, Clydesdale and Athena athletes, as well as the top club (the first-place overall male and female each get $1,250, and the top club receives $250). The prize money keeps the level of competition high—American pro triathlete David Thompson races it year after year, as do top amateur racers. Thompson also enjoys racing Pigman for the consistently accurate swim, bike and run courses; the great post-race food; the abundance of experienced and enthusiastic volunteers; the showers that are available after the race; and the consistently hot and windy conditions—“[It has a] hot, memorable run course you can complain about after you finish—a worthy challenge,” he says. The race’s affordable entry fees and high-quality production also keep athletes coming back year after year, and the timing makes it a great training day for athletes signed up for Ironman Wisconsin.

RELATED: 16 Bucket-List Triathlons (Outside Of Kona)


What: Pigman Triathlon
Where: Pleasant Creek State Park, Iowa
When: Aug. 17, 2014 (also a sprint race June 7, 2015)
Distance: Olympic (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run) and long course (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run)

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Bethany Mavis

Bethany Mavis

Bethany Mavis is the managing editor of Triathlete magazine. She's a mom, rec soccer player, multiple half-marathon finisher and is learning daily how to become a better triathlete.

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