Lifetime Fitness director of events Nick Lynch puts together races across the country but there are few places he enjoys coming to more than Naperville.
Lynch was the event director for Sunday’s , a sprint-distance triathlon for women. He watched as upward of 1,600 participants, approximately 300 of whom were from Naperville, competed in near-perfect conditions.
“This city is unique, because they really do buy into the event,” Lynch said of the event, which has been known by many different names in its 14-year existence. “The city is behind it, they promote it. It showcases this downtown area, which is beautiful. This is what Naperville is known for. Of all the cities we work with, from top to bottom, dealing with the lifeguards, the department of engineering, the police, it’s one of those borderline stress-free races because they’ve done this so many times.”
Naperville racers took advantage of the familiar Centennial Beach setting by dotting the top of the leader board when all was said and done. Mary Tobiason of Naperville won the race, which featured a 14.2-mile bike ride, a 3.1-mile run and a half-mile swim, in 1 hour 10 minutes 58 seconds out of the elite division.
Karen Snyder was second (1:13.27) and Deborah Stevens was fourth (1:13.41). Both are Naperville residents. While the majority of the field was local, athletes from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Ontario, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin were also in the field.
Jan Caille is the founder of the event, as well as founder of the Chicago Triathlon 29 years ago, and he remembers years when conditions weren’t so ideal for the event.
“Actually, there was one year I thought I was going to die out here,” Caille said. “It was so hot. We do the Chicago Triathlon, which is a much bigger event, and I was so exhausted after that day. It was great for the athletes [Sunday]. Yesterday was perfect to set up. It was just great.”
In addition to the participants, there were 180 volunteers that helped pull the event off, including representatives from ’s tennis program, ’s cross country program and various swim teams in town.
Lynch also estimates that there were around 8,000 spectators along the route. One passing participant said to her friends and family that there were “people all along the course” as she made her way through the morning.
There were also several groups that raced in support of The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, a charity that has been associated with women’s triathlons for years. Lynch estimates that in the past few years, between $1.5 million and $1.8 million has been raised for OCRF from the SheROX Triathlon Series. The Naperville race is one of nine races in the series.
“It’s not as known as some of the breast cancer charities out there, but it’s just as much of an issue,” Lynch said. “We have a lot of groups that are either survivors or know someone who is going through it. We promote it but the women get behind it and raise the money.”