Athletes, officials favor new Naperville triathlon course
A new course could not slow down some of the area's best athletes at Sunday's 13th running of the Naperville Sprint Triathlon. Some participants even think the new route might have helped their speed.
The race consisted of a 400-meter swim, a 20K bike ride and a 5K run through downtown Naperville and the surrounding area, beginning and ending at Centennial Beach, 500 W. Jackson Ave.
Road construction on Rickert Drive caused race director Bill Burke to change the direction and flow of both the running and biking portions of the competition. The biking leg was also shortened from 22 kilometers to exactly 20 kilometers.
As athletes flew past the finish line Sunday, Burke said he's going to ask the city to make the makeshift route official.
"I hope we keep this course. I was forced to make some changes (due to the construction), but this ended up better," Burke said. "In the old course when you came out on Jackson (Avenue), the whole course was run backward, against traffic. Now, you're riding with the normal flow of traffic and mentally you're thinking differently and the flow of the race is much better than it's ever been."
Ryan Giuliano, 28, of Oakwood Hills last competed in the event in 2010. On Sunday he set the record for the new course with a time of 52 minutes and 39 seconds. His wife, Jacqui, finished in exactly 1 hour, according to event timers. Both are currently training for the Ironman World Championships on their first wedding anniversary, Oct. 12, in Hawaii.
"This is a great quick course as we prepare for the Ironman," he said. "The flow is great, the course is fast and the competition out there was great."
He and Naperville resident Christian Waterstaat were neck and neck for most of the competition. Waterstaat and his wife, Elizabeth, both finished quick seconds in their respective male and female categories.
The women's category was won by 19-year-old Jennifer Howland of Elburn, with a time of 59 minutes and 59 seconds.
"I've been doing this for 11 years, but this is my first Naperville (triathlon,)" Howland said. "It's a really nice course, and my pace was good. I'm happy."
In all, Burke said, more than 2,100 athletes from 24 states competed in Naperville on Sunday.
"They were as young as 8 and as old as 73 today," Burke said. "It's amazing."
Sunday's triathlon was the 13th installment of the event and the 17th year Burke has had a hand in organizing a race in Naperville. The triathlon began in 1996 as a biathlon with just a run and a bike ride. After four years it was converted into a triathlon.
Burke said Naperville is among his favorite locations to host a race because Centennial Beach is so unique. He says first-time triathletes are often hesitant about the swimming portion of the race, but the beach's shallow waters and lifeguards provide some reassurance for uncertain triathletes.
Full results will be posted on the event's website at http://napervilletri.com.