I have participated in a decent amount of the triathlons in the Chicagoland area, but every time I got back to the Woodridge Mini Triathlon, I am reminded why it is my favorite.
For those that have never done it, Woodridge is the largest mini triathlon in the Chicagoland area. There are almost 1,000 triathletes between the main event, kids event, and the relay and the experience level ranges from first timers to extremely fast competitors.
The event is very well organized and from the top down, everyone involved is friendly and wants to put on a great event. They have to be with the multiple events taking place and all the newbies that come out to get their feet wet for their first triathlon. The race staff and volunteers- and there are a lot of them- go above and beyond to make sure everyone gets the help they need to compete in the event and have a memorable race.
The transition area is nice and spread out. There are only five bikes allowed per rack and the racks are actually marked with zip ties so that each participant gets their own section. Even so, you never feel too crowded when setting up your gear, which can be a challenge at some other events. While not exactly a “casual” atmosphere, the Woodridge Mini Tri does everything it can to make sure that the stress level for the athletes is kept to a minimum.
There are two separate pools for the 250 yard swim to start the race. Athletes are seeded by their predicted swim time to keep bottlenecks to a minimum and are released every 20 seconds. New this year, the athletes were split between pools so that the fastest swimmers were swimming at the same time, getting the faster athletes – and slower athletes – out on the bike course against similar competition. This seemed to work out very well as the bike course seemed far less crowded than in the past.
The bike course is a 10k out-and-back with a lollipop around the parking lot at the turnaround point. There are a few small hills, but, for the most part, it is a straight line from one end for the other, so athletes can really get their speed up.
The race finishes with a two mile run which, though short, is known to be a bit of a challenge. The run is one mile out and one mile back but the first half mile is mostly uphill, a perfect introduction to the run segment for your already wobbly legs. That does mean, however, that the final half mile is downhill, and it gives athletes a great chance to get their legs moving for a final sprint to the finish line.
The post race area is nice and spread out, a great spot to meet friends after the race and watch the other finishers come in. With everyone’s start time being spread out, there always seemed to be someone coming into the finish line and the race even set up bleachers so spectators could look out for their favorite athletes (or cheer on random strangers).
The Woodridge Mini Triathlon is a tri that can appeal to any kind of triathlete. For the first timer, it is a reasonable distance with a safe, friendly environment with a simple course that will help your confidence level and get you to the finish. For the veteran, it is a great, short race with plenty of fast competition that can also serve as a good tune up for longer distances races later in the summer.