Women triathletes taking over Centennial Beach Sunday

Updated 6/5/2013 6:55 PM
  • More than 2,000 women of varying skill and experience are expected to conquer the Athleta Esprit de She Triathlon Sunday in Naperville.

    More than 2,000 women of varying skill and experience are expected to conquer the Athleta Esprit de She Triathlon Sunday in Naperville. Daily Herald File Photo

A nice 3.1-mile jog on a Sunday morning may be just the right amount of exercise for some. But for the women headed to Naperville's Centennial Beach, that's just a warm up.

More than 2,000 women are expected to compete, at 7 a.m. Sunday, in the Athleta Espirit de She Triathlon.

Athleta spokeswoman Lindsey Kurhajetz said women and their supporters are traveling "from all over the Midwest" to compete in Naperville, the first of 18 Athleta Esprit de She events taking place across the country this summer.

The triathlon, formerly a SheRoX event, includes a .75K swim, a 22.8K bike ride and a 5K run. The event will test each of the competitors in different ways.

"Whether you're a casual runner or you're looking to take your fitness to the next level, this is a very achievable event that presents just enough of a challenge that the women feel a sense of accomplishment," Kurhajetz said. "This is a social thing. Women know this is going to be a big social fitness event they can enjoy in the company of other amazing women. It's going to be a great time."

Some participants are veterans for whom the Naperville competition is a warm-up to more grueling events later in the season. But for most, this is their first or second experience at testing their physical limits in new and challenging ways.

Ryanti Boyd, 40, of Round Lake Beach, has five marathons under her belt and Sunday she will compete in her third triathlon. She is using the race to help diversify her fitness routine.

"Last year I set a goal to run 1,000 miles. I had some injuries and almost killed myself doing it, but I did it," Boyd said. "This year I've challenged myself to be more diverse and mix my routine up a little bit. A triathlon is a nice way to do that."

Boyd said she also enjoys the camaraderie that often accompanies women-only events like the Esprit de She.

"Women's events are just more encouraging. There's a good vibe and you get freedom to be more fun, even during the competition," Boyd said. "That's ideal for me because I'm not fast. I'm just determined."

This year's race will benefit two charities. The race has continued its relationship with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the largest charity funding ovarian cancer research in the country. A new benefactor, Girls on the Run, also has been added. According to its website, the nonprofit organization aims to inspire girls to be healthy and confident.

Walk-up entries are welcome. Individual participants may register for the triathlon until race day at a cost of $95, or $85 for Lifetime Fitness members; relay teams will be charged $140.

In conjunction with the Esprit de She race, Lifetime Fitness also will host a post-race rendezvous featuring tapas and music. The community market will showcase fresh produce, local artisans and creative project ideas.

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