Family Friendly Suburban Triathlon Turns 30


The Leaning Tower YMCA Tower Triathlon will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year with races that provide kids and adults with the opportunity to take on an early season race to gauge their fitness after winter or dip their toes in the multisport world for the first time.

The Tower Triathlon began as a way to raise funds for the Leaning Tower Y’s scholarship program and continues to benefit those who could not otherwise afford YMCA programming, Danny Rubio, health, wellness and sports director at the Leaning Tower Y, says. The race’s popularity has grown particularly over the past five years, and the addition of kids races in 2010 helped open up the event to athletes of all ages.

“It’s definitely a family oriented event,” Rubio says. “We do have serious competitors who come in to kick off their season. This year we also added a Super Sprint portion for the adult triathlon. It’s half the distance of the sprint, so it’s good for anyone looking to get involved in the triathlon.”

Unlike many area summer triathlons, the Tower Triathlon’s swim takes place in the YMCA’s pool, meaning participants don’t have to worry about braving chilly open water to take part in the race.

“[Racers] start in the pool and run out to the transition area in our parking lot and hop on bikes,” Rubio says. “They bike through the community, which is an industrial area with not too many busy streets—and the streets are completely closed off. They bike two laps throughout the Niles area and then head out on the run, which is an out and back.”

Race weekend kicks off on Saturday with three different youth events. Kids 4-6 can take part in a Splash and Dash, which involves a 50-yard swim and run to the finish line. Those ages 7-10 will swim 100 meters, bike four kilometers and run one kilometer, while middle school-aged children 11-14 will swim 200 meters, bike eight kilometers and finish with a 2K run.

The adults have their turn on Sunday with sprint and Super Sprint options, featuring a 450-yard swim, 18K bike and 5K run for sprinters and 250-yard swim, 10K bike and 2.5K run in the Super Sprint. The race is USAT-certified, so participants will either need an active annual USA Triathlon membership or will need to purchase a one-day pass for $12.

“We have a lot of returning athletes, about 100 to 150 from what I know in the last few years,” Rubio says. “This is their kickoff race. We also have a triathlon team that’s been training with us at our YMCA since January for this and other events as well.”

The event will feature a post-race party with a closing ceremony and age group awards. Online registration for the event remains open, and you can learn more about the event at