This weekend marks the 36th annual Chicago Triathlon. On Saturday and Sunday, nearly 10,000 athletes will swim in the waters of Lake Michigan, bike down Lake Shore Drive and run around Museum Campus to compete in one of the country’s largest triathlons. From kids to adults, beginners to elites, the field of competitors will be nothing short of diverse.

Whether you’re an athlete competing this weekend, a supportive family member or friend, or merely just a triathlon fan spectating, downtown Chicago is going to be a busy area, so it’s important you know what you’re getting into before you get down there. Here is everything you need to know. 

For more information on this weekend’s race, read the Official Chicago Triathlon program, inside our August/September issue. Download the Athlinks App to easily reference schedules, maps, event communications and live athlete tracking.

1Schedule of Events

Friday, Aug. 24
1:00 p.m. – Chicago Triathlon Multisport & Fitness Expo Open – Chicago Hilton

Saturday, Aug. 25
5:30 a.m. – Transition Open – Foster Beach
7:00 a.m. – Life Time Kids Tri Chicago Race Start – Foster Beach
8:30 a.m. – Chicago Triathlon SuperSprint Race Start – Foster Beach
9:00 a.m. – Chicago Triathlon Multisport & Fitness Expo Open – Chicago Hilton
10:00 a.m. – Kids Tri Awards Ceremony – Foster Beach
11:30 a.m. – SuperSprint Tri Awards Ceremony – Foster Beach
2:00 p.m. – Early Racking Transition Open – Dusable Harbor

Sunday, Aug. 26
4:00 a.m. – Transition Open – DuSable Harbor
5:45 a.m. – Transition Closes (all distances)
6:00 a.m. – International Race Start – Lake Shore Drive at Balbo Drive
6:30 a.m. – Transition re-opens (Sprint Only)
8:00 a.m. – Finish festival opens, trolley service begins – Finish area
8:15 a.m. – Sprint Race Start – Lake Shore Drive at Balbo Drive
12:00 p.m. – Awards Ceremony – Finish Area
3:00 p.m. – Finish Festival Closes, Trolley Service ends


Chicago Triathlon Multisport & Fitness Expo
Friday, Aug. 24 and Saturday, Aug. 25
Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan

The Multisport & Fitness Expo, one of the best in the industry, is the site of packet pickup and course talks for the Chicago Triathlon, SuperSprint and Life Time Kids Tri races. All Sunday participants (including all relay members) are required to attend. More than 100 exhibitors offer the latest and finest in swimming, cycling, running gear and more. The event is free and open to the public. 

Look for the Chicago Athlete booth at the expo for a chance to win free swag!!!


Regardless of the event’s size, the Chicago Triathlon happens to be one of the most spectator-friendly races on earth, beginning with the unique swim course is set in Monroe Harbor. View the course map here.

Swim (International: 1 mile; Sprint: half mile)
The Swim Course spans the entire lakefront path. Husbands and wives can kiss each other goodbye as athletes jump in the water, then be no further than 25 yards from them through the duration.

Bike (International: 25 miles; Sprint: 15 miles)
The Bike Course is a bit tougher to spectate, considering the inaccessibility of Lake Shore Drive. Sprint athletes can easily be spotted at the Bike In/Out area at the Randolph Circle Drive, and on the North Avenue pedestrian bridge. For International athletes, the best vantage point is atop the 11th Street Pedestrian bridge, overlooking the McCormick Place Busway. Athletes will fly underneath twice, within 5-10 minutes, before venturing on the lakefront Run Course.

Run (International: 6.2 miles; Sprint: 3.1 miles)
The best spot to view all runners is in the Museum Campus, specifically in back of the Field Museum. This is a great spot to photograph your athletes, capturing both the skyline and converging groups of runners in the background. This crazy area is eloquently referred to as the “spaghetti bowl.” This is also an easy walk back to the Finish Line, only a few hundred yards away on Columbus.

4Road Closures*

  • Lake Shore Drive, southbound Hollywood Avenue to Randolph Street:5 a.m. to noon Sunday
  • Lake Shore Drive, northbound Randolph Street exit ramp:11 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday
  • Columbus Drive, Roosevelt Road to Balbo Drive:1 p.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday
  • Lower Wacker, Jackson Boulevard to Lake Shore Drive:6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday
  • McCormick Place Busway:6:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Sunday
  • Intermediate Columbus Drive, northbound Randolph Street to Water Street:6:30 a.m. to noon Sunday
  • Lower Columbus Drive, Randolph Street to Wacker Drive:6:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Sunday
  • Intermediate Randolph Street, Columbus Drive to the Lakefront:5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday

*gathered from the Chicago Tribune

5News Updates

New Bike Course
The 2018 event will now feature a 100% traffic-free Bike Course. The 15-mile stretch along Lake Shore Drive portion will occupy all southbound traffic lanes. Like previous years, athletes will continue to ride on their left (pass on right) during this portion, completing a clockwise loop between Randolph and Hollywood. International distance bikers will revert to traditional ride- right, pass-left rules once entering Lower Wacker Drive. See course map for new on/off ramp access.

New Race Rules
This year, Life Time Tri debuted a new Officiating Program with updated race rules designed to better educate all athletes, while moving to be in line with the global standards of triathlon. Experienced triathletes will notice a variety of changes, including a new Penalty card and tent process. All athletes will watch a 7-minute rules video during the Athlete Briefings.


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