Leon’s Triathlon 

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Sunday, triathletes from the Chicagoland area participated in Leon’s Triathlon in Hammond Indiana. The race is known for its support to active and retired military throughout the entire race weekend.

As racers picked up their packets on Saturday, they witnessed The Dare2Tri Injured Military Camp in action.  From the Dare2Tri’s website, “The camp is open to any injured military or veteran with a physical disability, visual impairment, traumatic brain injury, or PTSD. Instruction and clinics will be given in swimming, cycling, running/wheelchair pushing, and transition. Dare2tri will provide adaptive equipment, wetsuits, handlers/guides, top coaches and mentor athletes.” The camp utilized an empty parking lot that allowed paratriathletes the chance to practice with their equipment.

Race morning was smooth with ample parking right across the street and a large transition area with nice wooden bike racks.  The race began with retired military presenting the flag and colors and a gun salute along with the National Anthem.

The Olympic athletes went out first followed by para-triathletes and then sprint racers.  Olympic covered a large portion of Wolf Lake while the sprinters completed 750 meters ark from the starting dock to the finish boat ramp.  All racers had an in water swim start and had a huge American Flag as sight help towards the finish.  Majority of racers wore wet suits for the 72 degree water.

The bike portion was a two-loop for Olympic athletes and one-loop for Sprint racers.  While there were a few 180 turn arounds, racers had a completely closed course with nice paced roads and of course winds depending on which way they were going.  After transitioning off the bike, racers completed a 5K or 10K.  The path was lined with hundreds of American Flags and was well marked.  Racers completed their distance back at Wolf Lake Pavilion and were greeted by Leon himself.

I have participated in Leon’s four times since it reemerged from the ashes and have enjoyed it every year.  The atmosphere is one I haven’t seen replicated as Leon is somehow able to get an entire city around this race.  Local support from all different types of businesses rally behind this event.  Even the swag bags included five-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot.  Being out on the course alongside adaptive athletes also puts racing into perspective.  For those of us that are able-bodied, it is a reminder of what a gift it is to be racing and to witness those that still race despite their disabilities is simply inspiring.  Will be back to Leon’s and recommend it to others.

 

Overall Top Olympic Finishers

Vachee Loughran             02:00:43

Nickolaus Early                  02:02:24

Matt Peterson                  02:02:49

 

Fiona Carlon                       02:10:51

Brittany Fozkos                 02:15:47

Kelly Phuah                        02:16:11

 

Overall Top Sprint Finishers

Erik Walter                          00:59:08

Matthew Pahnke             01:00:08

Chaney Garner                 01:01:55

 

Cristina Lambert               01:08:50

Ahalya Lettenberger      01:09:50

Lorenza Jimenez              01:11:21

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Nicole once thought that the timed mile in high school was a form of torture. In an ironic turn of events, racing is now part of half her weekends in a given year and would take an early Saturday race over a Friday night out everytime. A self-proclaimed "back of the packer", Nicole loves triathlons and run races with her favorite distances being the half marathon and olympic distance triathlon. She works full time as a health care administrator and lives in Skokie with her husband, son and spoiled dog. You can find her race reports, musing and other random thoughts on her blog.

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