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  • Neal Rogers
  • Fri September 09 2016
  • Posted Sep 9, 2016

“Brain damage.”

That’s the short answer John Meehan gives when asked how a pediatric surgeon, based in Seattle, came to be the race director of an Iowa City cyclocross event that will make its debut as part of the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup on September 24.

The longer version? Dr. Meehan, a former runner who specializes in minimally invasive robotic surgery, fell in love with cyclocross while working at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, produced his own event (starting in 2004), and watched it flourish, even after he relocated in 2007 to take a position with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Known throughout the U.S. cyclocross community as Volkswagen Jingle Cross — in World Cup parlance it will simply be referred to as the Iowa City World Cup — Meehan’s event began in December 2004 as “Jingle Cross Rock.” Sixty people showed up. Over time, it moved to the Johnson County Fairgrounds, attracted local elite racers such as Jason McCartney and Steve Tilford, and dropped the “Rock” from its name.

But the vibe has remained the same —a party atmosphere, complete with DJs and bands, fireworks, food trucks, a Friday night race under lights, and a kids’ race “marshaled” by The Grinch (Meehan in costume, who hands out Build-a-Bears to all participants).

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