Eric Sarno has a good reason to miss this weekend's 20th anniversary of the Quad Cities Triathlon.

Another of the event founder's babies is reaching a milestone Saturday, too.

Sarno's daughter Olivia graduates from high school in Madison, Wis., so the Rock Island native will leave after the triathlon's pre-race events Friday to attend that ceremony.

"Twenty years was a blur," Sarno said ahead of his three-pronged passion at Davenport's West Lake Park. "My daughter Madeline was a 3-month-old at the first QCT and she was at the race. She is a junior now at Minnesota-Mankato, and Olivia wasn’t even born yet."

The sprint triathlon remains a 600-yard lake swim, 15-mile bike race and 3.1 mile run for individual competitors or 2-3 person teams starting at 7 a.m. Saturday.

However, many other things have changed since Sarno's event debuted.

"Not many in the Quad-Cities knew much about (the sport of) Triathlon back in 1999," Sarno said.

"Since then, we’ve hosted a world qualifier, survived the financial meltdown, watched three presidents get elected, witnessed 9-11.

"I survived a stroke, divorce, and moved to Wisconsin, changed jobs five times, and I’m about to publish a book called 'Stroke Runner.' I discuss the QCT at length in the book. I hope it’s out this summer."

Proceeds of the event have benefited Stroke Rehabilitation since Sarno suffered his serious health episode in 2007.

A portion of the competitors also are raising funds for a charity of choice.

A 500-participant cap remains in place. The event regularly sells out, but a few spots remained open as of Thursday with a registration deadline looming at midnight.

Packet pickup is 4-8 p.m. today at Lakeview Shelter. On-site packet pickup is offered 5-6:15 a.m. on race morning.

All participants receive an event shirt and goody bag. Spectators are encouraged and welcome.

Last year's men's race saw Josh Madsen of nearby North Liberty hold off LeClaire's Jeff Paul, the 2012 champ. Coralville's Joanna Hall won a second straight women's race in 2018.

"My favorite moment every year is at about 4:59 a.m. when I am standing alone in the dark near (the) transition (area)," Sarno said, "when the first car lights appear a mile down the park road and continue for as far as my eyes can see.

"I will miss my first QCT ever, but the original team of John Punkiewicz, Kirby Winn and Stephanie Cramer are all still behind the scenes. Through it all, they have been right next to me experiencing their own 20 years of living and volunteering to organize the QCT while managing families and careers."

Sarno's also been blessed by support from an active eight-person board of directors. Members include Eric Kies, Greg Hansen, Bryan Blew, Derek Radosevich, Jimmy Aidala, Christina Schmidt, Melissa Frank and C.J. Werley.

"I am so grateful and privileged to work with such a great group of people, along with West Lake Park, and Jody Moeller our medical coordinator," Sarno said.

The only bummer this weekend for Sarno is now having to wait until June 2021 for the 21st QC Triathlon. Lake restoration will prevent the event from being held next summer.

"But the plan is to return to West Lake Park on Saturday, June 20, 2021," Sarno said.


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