Dedication, inspiration on display at Naperville triathlon
With a cowbell in one hand and camera in the other, Robert Lee of Naperville shouted encouragement to the runners passing by Sunday morning on the final leg of the annual Naperville Sprint Triathlon.
"Great job! Looking good!" Lee said as he waited for his friend -- Gary Henry of Bolingbrook -- to pass.
"You couldn't pick a better day for this," he added.
The 1,900 participants -- along with of spectators lined up along Eagle Street, Jackson Avenue and other downtown locations -- would probably agree. The morning wasn't too hot and the humidity held off.
"It's all about how hard you tri," read one sign.
The race began with a 400-meter swim at Centennial Beach, followed by a 20-kilometer bike course and 5K run to finish. Some used the race as a warm-up for the longer Chicago Triathlon, in three weeks.
For John McMillian and Raul Alvarado, both of Aurora, and Karl Constant of Elmhurst, the race was an opportunity to get active again and challenge themselves.
"He's a sports junkie, athlete and personal trainer," Adriana Alvarado said of her husband, Raul. "This was his goal. Three years ago he decided he wanted to do a triathlon. He was a happy nervous feeling (this morning). He was excited to get started."
Andrea McMillian said her husband, John, was a sprinter in college. He entered the triathlon to get active again and started training four months ago.
"I'm so proud of him," she said.
Mary Kravchuk's husband, Mark, got roped into competing the cycling leg of the triathlon during a charity auction for St. Francis High School in Wheaton.
Kravchuk, of Wheaton, said Mark made the winning bid on an auction item earlier this year that required him to complete the 20K bike ride. Lucy Bednar of Villa Park swam the 400 meters and Deb Hodgett of West Chicago was the final leg with the 5K run.
"He's doing it as a shared triathlon." Mary Kravchuk said. "Their motto is 'It's all about the breakfast.' It's really about having a good time."
John And Daphne Frederick of Downers Grove came out to cheer for their daughter, Melissa Berscheid.
Berscheid competed in a triathlon in 2003 but has spent her time since doing half-marathons and other races.
"She was excited about the race. She likes competing," Daphne Frederick said. "This is something she wanted to do. She enjoys long bike rides."