By Rosie Powers
Passers-by on Marion and Randolph streets, this Saturday morning, could very well see friends and neighbors swimming, biking and running, accompanied by a soundtrack of cheers and cow bells.
This weekend kicks off the first-ever Pleasant District Family Triathlon, a race that organizers hope will promote community wellness and involvement.
"It grew out of the idea that the Pleasant District has great wellness-based businesses," said Abby Miller of Greenline Wheels, L3C at 105 S. Marion St. "The race is pulling them all together for an active cause. We wanted to give families a reason to get active."
The triathlon, which begins at 7 a.m. Saturday, is open to participants of all ages. Child participants are allowed to take part in the events, as long as they are accompanied by anyone age 16 and over.
Miller said the race will begin at the YMCA, 255 S. Marion St., where teams age 7-10 will swim 100 meters. Teams age 11-15 will swim 200 meters.
"From there, racers will go to the front parking lot, where YMCA will have Greenline Wheels bikes mounted to do the ride on stationary bikes," Miller said. Teams age 7-10 will ride 4 kilometers, while 11- to 15-year-olds will ride 8 kilometers.
The final event planned is the run, which Miller said will take place on Marion Street near the YMCA. Teams age 7-10 will run 1 kilometer, while teams 11-15 run 2 kilometers.
"We chose these distances because we wanted it to be approachable to someone who has not done a triathlon before but a distance that is still an accomplishment," Miller said. "We want athletic families, but also families that have never considered it before and might have been intimidated by the Chicago Triathlon."
In fact, Miller said this idea inspired their slogan: "Try a tri."
Miller said initial planning for the race began last year with the YMCA. Pleasant District businesses Competitive Foot, Functional Health and Wellness, Little Teeth Big Smiles Children's Dentistry, and Whole Foods were among businesses that participated in preparing for the race.
Although the deadline for registering has passed, Miller stressed the importance of the race as a community event, encouraging Oak Parkers and other area residents to support race participants at different "cheering stations" along the course. Wonder Works Children's Museum has planned to provide cheering sections with cowbells and balloons.
As for newcomers to the triathlon, Miller said Tony Zamora of TZ Coaching is providing low-cost training for families interested in getting some practice before race day.
"My job is to give people the support, training programs and guidance needed to accomplish their potential, whether that be finishing their first race or reaching that top spot on the podium," Zamora said.
"We're not putting an emphasis on winning and prizes, we want people to feel excited about doing something active and enjoying doing it," Miller said. "We're giving families something fun and active to do together, regardless if they are already active or not."