Tri-the-Illini triathlon set for this weekend


The University of Illinois Triathlon Team will host host to the 10th annual Tri-the-Illini triathlon on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

By Lucas Wright, Staff writer

Hundreds of triathletes from all around the country will be making their way to Illinois this weekend.

The University of Illinois Triathlon Club is set to play host for the 10th annual Tri-the-Illini triathlon on Sunday at 8 A.M.

The race opens with a 300-meter swim in the outdoor pool at the ARC, followed by a 14.5 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile run through campus town.

Over 500 runners are expected, according to the Illinois Triathlon Club Vice President Shannon Sledz.

“It definitely started out small,” Sledz said. “I would definitely say we’ve had a lot more participants over the years. I think our first year, we only had 200.”

The rising popularity has been a benefit to the club. With prices set at $40 for collegiate athletes, $50 for individuals and $75 for relay teams, the triathlon is the main money maker to help pay for the club’s travel expenses during the season.

Throughout the season, which is winding down to an end, the team has competed in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana — and now the Mideast Collegiate Triathlon Conference schedule will round out with the Illini’s home competition.

Illinois has placed in the top half of the majority of the races this season, with standouts Sledz and club president Matt Stern placing in the top-five multiple times.

The club itself trains under the guidance of Jennifer Harrison — former ITU Triathlon World Championship competitor and current professional coach. Sledz said the team owes all of their success to Harrison’s tough training routines and the care she has for the team, despite not always being able to be with the team in person.

“She gets super excited for everyone, and she writes all of her emails in capital letters because she is just so intense,” Sledz said. “She is just really wise about triathlons, and she’s a total badass.”

Sledz said the team has been looking forward to this weekend’s festivities as more of a team bonding experience, considering the team will be helping coordinate the event instead of participating.

“It’s just the whole team is working their butts off to make this go off,” Sledz said. “It’s a really good atmosphere.”

[email protected]    @LucasWright95