When Steve Van Horn discovered there would be a local triathlon, he was ecstatic.
“Trudy Wakeman I’ve known for years,” he said, “and when she said that the park district in Lake in the Hills will have a triathlon, I said, ‘That sounds great! I really want to support this.’”
That was in 2007, when the annual triathlon first began, according to Wakeman, who organizes the event. Van Horn loved it so much that when he couldn’t participate one year because of an injury, he volunteered instead.
“I’ve competed in it since its inception,” he said. “I think it’s a great race.”
Van Horn was so excited because he enters triathlons competitively. The 62-year-old strives for winning his age division, which he’s done a handful of times. This fall, he’ll be competing in the Half Ironman World Championship in Las Vegas.
“I compete in triathlons across the country,” he said. “During a typical season I’ll do four, give or take.”
The first triathlon of Van Horn’s season is the LITH Triathlon, which takes place Sunday. Although it is already in its seventh installment, the triathlon still holds true to its original goal.
“It’s geared toward beginners,” Wakeman said.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for seasoned triathletes.
“For people who want to take up triathlons, this is the place to start,” Van Horn said. “It’s low-key that any athlete can compete in, but it turns out it’s as good as it gets [competition-wise].”
The triathlon is comprised of a half-mile swim, a 15.5-mile bike, and a 4-mile run. It makes good use of Lake in the Hills’s residential streets and lake, Wakeman said.
“It’s good for the community,” the race director said, “and it brings people to Lake in the Hills.”
Jenny Harrison, a 42-year-old West Dundee resident, has been competing in triathlons since 1995. Over the years, she has noticed the increasing number of participants/spectators, some of whom come because of its date.
“It’s on Father’s Day,” she said, “so a lot of men like to do it for Father’s Day and bring their families to the finish line and celebrate the achievement.”
Harrison also has observed the well-run, close-knit event. She praises Wakeman’s organization of the event and its safety, with police officers organizing traffic during the biking portion. Harrison thinks that kind of culture has allowed the LITH Triathlon to grow into something much greater than anyone could have expected.
“People bring their parents and their grandparents and their kids,” Harrison said. “It’s turned into a nice family event.”
7th annual LITH Triathlon
Sunday, June 16
Start time: 6:30 a.m.
Spectator parking: Ryder Park, 1216 Crystal Lake Road
Swim start: Indian Trail Beach
Run start: Ken Carpenter Park
Bike start: Ken Carpenter Park
Finish line: Ken Carpenter Park, 1200 Heartland Gate