This was my first large scale triathlon in terms of # of participants. I can't imagine what a nightmare it is trying to coordinate 4 events (International, Sprint, SuperSprint and Kids)
Packet pick up was located at the Hilton Chicago (in the basement). Kind of a weird spot for packet pick up and a fairly large expo. I think logistically they should have the expo in 1 room instead of two. T-Shirt was OK, but I was happy about the color of my swim cap (purple!). I enjoyed getting to this expo more than I enjoy going to Navy Pier or even McCormick place.
Racers had the option to bike-check the day before. It had rained which probably deferred people to check in the morning. I decided to go last minute and check my bike in. I am glad I did, I got a pretty good transition spot.
The only major bummer about this race for anyone who does not live (or is not staying downtown) is the timing. We had to get up at 2:45 am, take the train (45-50min), in order to arrive on time to set up transition. It's just early. I understand it is to get the race started shortly after 6am while it is still cool-ish out, but man, rough times.
I thought the set-up of the swim was great. The course was in DuSable Harbor which is kind of gross and seaweedy, and eventually got pretty rough. It is kind of crazy that they set in bleachers for in/out of the water. They have volunteers helping you out of the water. I wish the 1/4 mile jog to transition was a tad shorter, but whatever, we're in the city.
The transition area was pretty well marked, but ended up being VERY muddy due to the storms the evening before. They could have maybe put out carpet on the grass in the main corridor of the bike in/out area.
Biking up and down Lake Shore Drive was pretty fun. I am so used to the path and this offered a unique experience. Also biking on Intermediate Wacker Drive and the busway was really interesting!
The run course was like many other run courses in Chicago - South on the Lake Front Path to 31st street and finishing on Columbus Drive. Very familiar. My only complaint is that it is unshaded. This was offset by having cooling fans and many aid stations (7 total for the International distance).
After finishing, you are greeted with an ice cold towel, water & Gatorade and your finisher medal. The medal is huge and functions as a bottle opener and is also a magnet. The medal is actually too heavy for the magnet (it initially sticks to the fridge, but then falls off).
Post race beer and food by Goose Island was mediocre. Chicken was dry and salad was not as good as I wanted it to be!
Overall, this was a pleasant experience. I loved racing triathlon and plan to do more!