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Chicago Triathlon Race Day and Travel Tips

Posted by Jim Kaese on Jun 27, 2009 8:39:06 PM

Jim Kaese is Co-Founder of Athletic-Minded Traveler, LLC, a healthy lifestyle multimedia company that operates the largest healthy-travel site on the web at, creates content for various corporate licensees, and generates online custom wellness and work-life solutions for Fortune 500 employers.


As the largest triathlon in the world, the Accenture Chicago Triathlon is a popular race among beginners and veterans alike. Many of our members will be sweating along (and in) Lake Michigan in a few weeks, so we thought we would give some "insider" advice. Our staff has a collective 10+ years of Chicago tri experience. Here are some less obvious helpful hints to make it a great day:




1. Determine your own personal start time - the first wave may begin at 6am, but with more than 7500 participants, you could be in Wave #43 that doesn't get in the water till 930am. If you're going to be waiting, adjust your nutrition intake accordingly. A 5am pre-race breakfast eaten at home isn't going to help at 9am.


2. Consider staying overnight at a hotel across the park - even if you live downtown, a stay at the Hilton or any other hotel along Grant Park/South Michigan Ave. should be considered-especially if you followed recommendation #1 and determined that you have a 90 minute wait or more once the first Wave takes off. In the past, I've stayed overnight at the Hilton, checked my bike into transition and organized my gear, walked back to the hotel, and chilled in my air-conditioned room on a comfortable bed for an hour while other participants made the most of the firm and crowded grassy slopes along Monroe Harbor. You can find other reliable Chicago hotel and pre-race healthy restaurant recommendations by clicking on this hotlink.



3. Be certain of your transition spot - make no doubt about it, the Chicago Triathlon transition area is overwhelming. Knowing exactly where your bike and gear are can save you a ton of time. One year, we heard a racer lost 2 minutes trying to find his transition spot after coming in from the bike. If you can find a spot on the end of the rack or near a tree, that will help-but, you'll have to get to transition awfully early to snag one of those prime spots. Once your gear is all laid out, make 2 trial runs from each side of the transition area (swim-in and bike-in). The bike-in is more difficult because you don't have a large 2-wheeler to help spot your spot.



4. Stay calm in the water - Don't go into this race thinking you're going to set a swim personal record. The available space in the harbor is narrrow. And with so many waves of people, you will be bumped, pushed, and hit. Also you'll find yourself meandering around a multitude of slower swimmers who started ahead.



5. Pedal slowly around the bike turn-around - it's narrow and sharp so take your time around the turn and accelerate hard once heading back south-but, watch out for water bottles lying on the ground.



6. Make your run a negative-split - most runners in any distance race start out too fast in the first half of the run. Hold back during the first half, kick it in during the second, and watch all the people that passed you during the first miles drop off in the dust.



Have Fun!!



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