Last-Minute Chicago Triathlon Tips for Athletes and Spectators


The Chicago Triathlon takes place this weekend and features six events. Race weekend consists of five stand-alone triathlons, including the Life Time Kids Tri Chicago, SuperSprint and the Chicago Triathlon Sprint and International races. The Triple Challenge is the sixth event, consisting of three races unto itself. There are nearly 10,000 participants registered, with the Sunday event completely sold out, making this the largest triathlon in Chicago.

To help alleviate some pre-race stress and spare your family, friends, and co-workers from any unnecessary taper tantrums, we’ve asked Life Time Senior Brand Manager Scott “Hootie” Hutmacher for some race-week tips.

Q: A lot of athletes struggle with tapering. Do you have tips to get through it?

A: First, get into Lake Michigan! We recommend that all participants swim in open water and simulate the race morning experience – as best you can – with others. Whatever you plan to eat prior to the race, mimic it. If you plan to use a wetsuit, wear it. Try to swim the full distance, too. It’s critical to carry that confidence into your race strategy. [Note: Monroe Harbor is NOT open to swimming].

Second, recruit your fan club! It’s been proven that athletes who share their challenges and fears with a support system are more apt to reaching their goals. Further, family and friends who witness their athlete’s amazing race experience will likely enroll in next year’s event!

Q: How about last-minute race day advice?

A: Prior to race weekend, it’s critical that everyone reviews the event schedule, knows their specific start time and studies the course. Each of these are detailed within the 2019 Athlete Guide. As a reminder, all Sunday participants are required to attend the Multisport & Fitness Expo and attend an Athlete Briefing prior to receiving their packets.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for spectators? What resources should they review prior to race day and how can they track their athletes?

A: Spectating the world’s largest triathlon can be a bit daunting for the unprepared. A few tips:

    • Download the Athlinks App to stay in-the-know with course maps, wave starts, event schedules and live athlete tracking enrollment.
    • Learn your athlete’s actual start time, as well as estimated time to reach specific parts of the course.
    • Know what your athlete will be wearing – key to easily spotting them while they’re in motion.
    • Remember that triathlon is an individual sport, and outside assistance is frowned upon. Triathletes can be penalized for receiving support from non-participants.
    • Bring a snack, money, sunscreen and wear comfy shoes!

Q: Is there anything athletes should be aware of this weekend?

A: Lake Michigan’s high-water levels will be noticeable to athletes and spectators alike. Spectators will be restricted from some typical viewing areas along Monroe Harbor. Swimmers need to be cognizant of missing (underwater) portions of the seawall, and avoid the ease of prematurely exiting the course. It might appear that spectators are literally walking on water in some areas.

Q: If you had to pick one thing, what do you hope each of the athletes comes out of race day accomplishing?

A: As an event producer, certified coach and athlete myself, I personally hope to see every athlete finishing strong at the Finish Line – upright and with energy to spare! It’s imperative that athletes start slow, maintain a reasonable pace throughout the race and save the speed for the final stretch. Too often, athletes get caught up in the excitement and energy of the Swim Start and forget to slow down. Patience is truly a virtue in triathlon.

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Mandi has been running for over 25 years and has participated in the Chicago, Detroit, and Boston Marathons. Mandi regularly competes in regional events and enjoys being a part of several running groups including CARA and the Badgerland Striders. She is a co-host on the Ten Junk Miles podcast and looks forward to hosting the Chicago Athlete Podcast. An RRCA certified coach and Les Mills certified instructor, Mandi is also a coach with Chicago Athlete Coaching. Mandi is a local government attorney by weekday and race warrior by weekend.


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