Best Chicagoland Triathlons for the Beginner Triathlete

Summer in Chicago means more than longer days and no snow – it also means the start of triathlon season. Triathlons aren’t easy and making the decision to train for one is respectable and brave. Actually competing in one takes even more courage. Transitioning from one sport to the next is demanding and the swim portion can be extremely intimidating for a new triathlete. Here some races in the Chicagoland area that will give the beginner triathlete the experience and the confidence to continue participating in the sport.

1. Batavia Triathlon, Batavia, IL – June 12
The swimming event is a short 400 meters and takes place at Quarry Beach Park, an unheated, outdoor, sand-bottomed facility that is on the smaller size, so beginners who are nervous about an open-water swim won’t feel so intimidated. There is a time trial start of two seconds between competitors and the course is marked by buoys. Lifeguards will be on duty to assist swimmers in need of help. The 14.7-mile bike course is a circuit throughout the city of Batavia and offers rolling hills and scenic prairie views. The last leg of the race is the 4.1 mile run, which runs along the Fox River Trail on a shaded path. Batavia is located 40 miles west of Chicago.

2. Twin Lakes Triathlon, Palatine, IL – June 26
Palatine is 30 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. The 700 meter swim is in a small lake at the Twin Lakes Country Club. Participants swim out in waves, circle a small island, and then swim back to the transition area. The lake is filled with lifeguards on boats so if swimming is your weakest part of the event, you can feel secure in the fact that there will always be a trained person available to help. Both the 14 mile bike and the 4.5 mile run weave through neighborhoods bordering the golf course. Sign up early for this one because it sells out quickly. Only 500 participants are allowed in this race.

3. Splash, Pedal, Dash Triathlon, Schaumburg, IL – July 10
Also 30 miles northwest of the city, this triathlon is the ultimate race for a beginner because the 400 meter swimming portion takes place in a pool. One person at a time enters the first of eight lanes and 10 seconds later another person starts behind you. There is only one transition area and the 15 mile bike and 3 mile run navigate a flat course through neighborhoods and Schaumburg Park District’s parks.

4. Chicago’s South Shore Multisport Festival, Chicago, IL – July 30
Forget the competition, this race is all about location! Located at 63rd Street Beach, participants have the option of a sprint triathlon, an aquabike, or a duathlon. The sprint triathlon is a 750 meter swim, 12.4 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run. The aquabike and duathlon are excellent options for someone who may be unsure of any aspect of the race since each race only contains two of the three. The triathlon and the aquabike start with a swim in Lake Michigan, so make sure to wear a wetsuit if you have one. Even in late July, the water temperature can be in the 60’s which may be fine once adrenaline kicks in, but could be quite shocking at first. The bike and run portions start in beautiful Jackson Park and continue along Lake Michigan and Lake Shore Drive. All participant’s receive a Running Away Multi Sport bike jersey.

5. Glenview Park District’s 10th Annual Triathlon, Glenview, IL – July 31
Located just 15 miles north of Chicago, the Glenview Triathlon is great for all fitness levels. The swim portion is held at one of the park district’s pool and is a mere 300 meters. Each racer is lined up according to swim time and is sent every 10 seconds. The 10 mile bike navigates a fast, smooth, flat course that loops twice through Glenview subdivisions and the 3.1 mile run is set in beautiful Glen Park on paved paths. The entry fee includes a Dri-fit racer t-shirt, finisher gift, and post race refreshments. There will also be a raffle and all participants have the opportunity to win running shoes, athletic bags, workout equipment, and heart rate monitors.

6. HRMS Naperville Sprint, Naperville, IL – August 14
This is considered another beginner race because of the shortened course lengths. The 400 meter swim is at Centennial Beach, which is within an abandoned, double quarry alongside the DuPage River. The water is from Lake Michigan and is all tested, chlorinated and re-circulated on site. Four swimmers will be sent into the water every five seconds. The 13.6 mile double loop bike course will take place through some beautiful scenery in the Naperville area and the 3 mile run follows the jogging path along the Dupage River. Naperville is 30 miles west of Chicago.

Regardless of your fitness level or athletic abilities, competing in your first triathlon can be daunting and intimidating. There are a number of great triathlons in the Chicagoland area, but these races are perfect matches for the true beginner and will keep you competing throughout the entire summer. You can always search for your own at