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Tri, tri again: Pleasant District Family Triathlon is Sept. 21st in Oak Park

Tyler Turek, 9, finishes first in the 7- to 10-year old age group in 2013’s Pleasant District Family Triathlon. By his side is Ruben Figueres, who has competed in 200-plus triathlons and has represented Spain and the U.S. in five world championships.
West Cook YMCA

If at first you succeed, then try a “tri” again.

In Oak Park last year, that was the approach of Pleasant District Family Triathlon organizers as they saw participation double from 29 two-person teams in the 2012 inaugural effort to 58.

Now PDFTri leaders are building on the positive momentum generated in the event’s first two years as they gear up for the next one on the last full day of summer: Sunday, Sept. 21st.

Early registration, with a discounted fee of $65 per two-person team, ends on Thursday, July 31st.

By closing off several streets in the Pleasant District, the race provides a scaled-down, stress-free and family-friendly version of the triathlon, one of the most grueling of athletic endeavors.

Among the event’s most ardent supporters is Ruben Figueres, who has competed in more than 200 triathlons across the world and has represented Spain and the United States in five world triathlon championships. He participated in last year’s PDFTri and plans to do so again this year.

“Hands down, this is the best kids’ race of the year,” Figueres says. “The unique team format allows the kids to race next to their parents and gives it a more relaxed atmosphere. I wouldn't be surprised to see this format become more and more popular.”

Beginning at 7 a.m., the start time for participants is staggered every few minutes. Each participant begins with the swim, followed by biking and then wrapping up with the run. To track results, each participant will receive an electronic timing chip to wear around the ankle, courtesy of ChampionChip247.

The distance is 100 yards of swimming, 4.2 kilometers of bicycling and a one-kilometer run for those in the 7- to 10-year-old age group (plus accompanying adults), and double the distance (200 yards/8.4 kilometers of bicycling and a 2K run) for 11- to 15-year-olds and adults who accompany them.

Customarily, the endurance event incorporates swimming, biking and running over a combined span of 15-plus miles (sprint distance) to 140.6 miles (ultra distance, including a 26.2-mile marathon). But the PDFTri comes with a decidedly laidback tone that caters to even the most timid of would-be weekend warriors.

At the same time, physical fitness zealots have been drawn to the event, which calls for an adult (16 years or older) and a child (7 to 15 years old) to participate side-by-side in the pool at the West Cook YMCA, 255 S. Marion St. before hopping on their bikes and then wrapping up with a run.

The bike portion of the event is on a closed course on streets throughout the Pleasant District (Randolph Street, Maple Avenue, South Boulevard and Home Avenue) and the run portion is along Marion Street. Adult teammates are often parents and siblings, but can also be grandparents, baby-sitters, coaches or any other adult who signs up with the youngster.

For each age group, the top girl, boy and adult will receive prizes from Pleasant District shops and restaurants.

“This is the only family triathlon of its kind in the entire region, and we don’t know of any other event quite like this anywhere else in the United States,” says Sarah Gulseth, Pleasant District Association president and the West Cook YMCA’s marketing & communications coordinator. “This is a great way to promote fitness for the entire family, to bring together the community and to showcase the beauty of the Pleasant District.”

The PDFTri ushers in “Pleasant Week To Be a Kid,” a series of events organized by the Pleasant District Association that celebrates children and families. The week wraps up Sunday, Sept. 28th with Children’s Day at Pleasant Home, 217 Home Ave.

PDFTri sponsors are the West Cook YMCA, Greenline Wheels, The Carleton of Oak Park Hotel, the Wednesday Journal / OakPark.com, Peekaboo Playroom, Visit Oak Park, Inside Edge PR, Go! Go! Go! Fundraising, Edward Jones, Pleasant Home Foundation, The Printing Store and Lifeway.

All proceeds from the PDFTri benefit the West Cook YMCA’s efforts to build a stronger community.

To register, visit westcookymca.org/pdftri or sign up at the West Cook YMCA, 255 S. Marion St. in Oak Park. Registration fees are $65 per team until July 31st and $75 per team after Aug. 1st. Registration closes on Monday, Sept. 8th, and possibly earlier, as there are limited spaces available.

For more information, please contact Sarah Gulseth at 708-434-0226 or sgulseth@westcookymca.org. For more details about Pleasant Week To Be a Kid, visit http://pleasantdistrictoakpark.com/