Naperville sprint gives perfect three-sport experience

  • Naperville Sprint Triathlon participants will splash into Centennial Beach beginning at 7 a.m. Sunday for the first leg of their swimming-biking-running journey.

    Naperville Sprint Triathlon participants will splash into Centennial Beach beginning at 7 a.m. Sunday for the first leg of their swimming-biking-running journey. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Biking comes second in the Naperville Sprint Triathlon, and racers are advised to stay to the right near the curb and not ride two or three wide.

    Biking comes second in the Naperville Sprint Triathlon, and racers are advised to stay to the right near the curb and not ride two or three wide. Daily Herald file photo August 2008

  • A stretch of the triathlon running course along the Riverwalk in Naperville comes near the end of the race that starts at 7 a.m. Sunday.

    A stretch of the triathlon running course along the Riverwalk in Naperville comes near the end of the race that starts at 7 a.m. Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer August 2013

 
 
Posted8/6/2016 11:00 AM

The Naperville Sprint Triathlon is perfect for athletes who want to conquer a tri-sport challenge.

If "perfect" seems a bit strong, let Race Director Bill Burke with Premier Event Management explain.

 

The swimming-biking-running event at 7 a.m. Sunday is perfect for newbies because it starts with a 400-meter zigzag splash through Centennial Beach. The swimming hole has a sandy entrance and a 15-foot deep end, but it isn't as scary as sloshing around in the choppy expanse of a bigger body of water like Lake Michigan.

"This event always attracts a lot of first-timers just because it's safe and less intimidating," Burke said. "It's in a pool, so athletes are really comfortable with the swim."

So swimming perfection -- check.

The race the first weekend of August is perfect for hard-core triathletes, too -- mostly because of its timing. It's set to take place three weeks before its Chicago counterpart, which offers the full international or Olympic distance of a nearly one-mile swim, a 24.8-mile bike and a 6.2-mile run.

"We have a lot of athletes that use this as a tuneup for the Chicago Triathlon," Burke said. "It's short and won't expend a lot of energy for them."

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It's even perfect for kids. The race has added award categories for younger participants this year to give kids ages 9-10, 11-12 and 13-15 a shot at some bling and glory.

"I know those kids are excited about participating and getting some hardware at the finish line, which they've never been able to do," Burke said.

The "perfect" day will begin early for racers, who can access the two transition zones between the stages beginning at 5 a.m. and can start warming up for their swim at 6:30 a.m. The race start is listed as 7 a.m., but only the fastest four athletes will get going right then.

Burke said race organizers will send off four racers every six seconds until the entire field of 1,900 or so is off and swimming, which likely will take nearly an hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Of course, a rainy morning, a flat tire on the bike route or a bad case of brick legs on the run could turn the race from perfect to perfectly torturous for individual participants.

But therein lies the strange fun of triathlon, says Joe LoPresto, founder and head coach at Experience Triathlon in Naperville, one of the race's main sponsors.

"It seems impossible to so many people," LoPresto said. "The challenge factor -- I think that's intriguing."

LoPresto will host five race clinic training sessions in the days leading up to the race to answer racer questions about how transition zones work, what triathlon rules must be followed, what to bring and what to leave behind.

"We're there to reduce the stress and help everyone have a fun day," LoPresto said.

A few tips:

• Pack light. In a small backpack, carry a towel, bike helmet, swim goggles and a water bottle and that -- plus some shoes -- should about do the trick.

• Stay to the right on the bike course, near the curb. And don't bike two or three wide -- it's dangerous and against the rules.

• Race, but don't rush. Getting overexcited could lead to slips, falls or wrong turns.

Beyond those tips, there's one more thing that just might turn this popular annual endurance event into perfection: the end.

"When you're done," LoPresto said, "you feel really great."

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