A hot and sweaty morning didn't slow down the roughly 1,900 women who swam, biked and ran to the finish line during Sunday's SheROX Triathlon in Naperville.
The annual event, formerly part of the U.S. Women's Triathlon series, is designed to provide a supportive and inspirational environment for women of all athletic abilities.
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"We want women to participate who thought they'd never, ever do something like this," said Bob Theodore of Minnesota-based Life Time Fitness, one of the organizers of the event. "At the same time, it's challenging enough for the experienced athletes."
The triathlon included a .75-kilometer swim, a 22.8-kilometer bike ride and a 5-kilometer run. It's part of a national series of SheROX athletic events held across the U.S. and in Bermuda each year.
Sunday's triathletes came from all over the Chicago area, and they represented all ages from teen to senior. The event ended at Centennial Beach, which pulsed with an upbeat, festive atmosphere. Friends and relatives cheered wildly as their loved ones finished the race. Some supporters carried flowers. Many of the children at the finish line waved signs that said things such as "Go, Mama, Go!" and "My mom rocks!"
Jeannine Rhoden of Atlanta carried a sign that said "So proud of my sister!" Her sister is Naperville resident Joy Walker, who, after turning 40, decided to compete in her first triathlon. "I can't say how great it feels to be here, watching her do this," Rhoden said. "It's actually been kind of emotional for me."
Renee O'Brien of Naperville also participate in her first triathlon Sunday. She was part of a relay team with Kristen Harding of Naperville and Jodi Pass of Chicago. In a relay, each member of the team handles one of the triathlon's legs.
"It felt great," said O'Brien, who handled the 5K run. "The first mile was difficult but after that I felt really good." O'Brien and Harding said they plan to do a full triathlon each later this summer.
Darien resident Laurie Locke's relay team included her daughters, Payton and Sydney. It was their first time doing a triathlon together.
"It went very well," Locke said. "I'm so proud of the girls. The only thing that was difficult for me was making sure they were getting through it safely."