Swimmers, runners and cyclists from throughout the region will swarm to Lake in the Hills for its annual triathlon Sunday.
The course comprises a half-mile swim in Woods Creek Lake, 15.5-mile bicycle ride over rolling hills and a 4-mile run through municipal streets for a total distance of 20 miles.
Last year's race drew roughly 300 participants of varying skill levels from beginners to elite athletes. It was also the first year cash prizes were awarded to top finishing elite competitors.
This year, race directors Shane Firsching and Matt Kidd will sponsor two $150 cash prizes for the overall male and female winners of the elite wave.
"We usually get between 15 and 20 elite athletes," said Firsching, 33, of Huntley, a civil and environmental engineer.
Firsching and Kidd, 33, also of Huntley, an architect, have been training together for the triathlon since 2014. They saved the triathlon from being canceled in 2015 after an outside event organizer had backed out.
"Our goal is to keep doing it as long as we are having fun and athletes keep showing up," Firsching said of the event, now in its 11th year. "We've got a pretty good core of loyal athletes that really like doing it. We also get a lot of first-timers."
The duo introduced relay teams to the event three years ago and have awarded medals for the overall top three finishing teams each year. This year, they offered open swimming practices, group rides and an 8-week training plan for beginner athletes developed by local professional triathlon coach Jennifer Harrison.
"We had about 30 people attend the group rides," Firsching said.
Wednesday is the last opportunity for open water swimming practice at the lake's Indian Trail Beach. The swim course will be marked with buoys and staffed with lifeguards. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by the swim/run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Fee is $5 for triathlon entrants and $10 for those not yet registered for the race.
Participants don't have to swim the entire course and can shorten it as required by skill level. Swimmers must wear a bright-colored swim cap, attend the pre-swim safety briefing and sign a liability waiver before participating in the open water swim.
Organizers have changed the cycling course slightly to eliminate a rough road, and reroute cyclists on to better pavement.
Firsching said interest in the triathlon has remained steady at 300 participants, which is what organizers expect this year.
"We have 235 athletes signed up," Firsching said.
Registration closes Friday and is limited to 400 participants. The cost is $85 for individuals and $120 for teams.
The race begins 6:30 a.m. Sunday. For details or to register online, visit raceentry.com.