Soon after Jason Smith finished second in the HRMS Naperville Spring Triathlon Sunday, he predicted his girlfriend, Adrienne Hengels, would come in second among the women.
And he was right.
Neither was upset about the second-place status. Smith gave credit to the winner Colin Riley, 22, of Aurora, who he ran even with much of the race. Riley finished in 56 minutes and 44 seconds.
"I did what I could," said Smith, a personal trainer from Indianapolis. "Colin's got a kick, and he stepped on the gas a little harder than I did those last 100 meters. I thought I had a kick, but I guess I don't."
And Hengels, the owner of a Naperville yoga studio, noted that Jennifer Garrison, 31, of Naperville, the fastest woman, "does this for a living. It's just a hobby for me."
Garrison's unofficial time was 1 hour and 35 seconds.
It took more than 55 minutes to get all 1,950 racers into the water at Centennial Beach. After swimming 400 meters, the competitors biked 22 kilometers or 13.3 miles and finally ran 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles in what is considered a short triathlon.
The competitors lined up on the beach and started swimming in groups of four according to the swimming times they reported to organizers, said Bill Burke, race coordinator. Each racer was timed from his or her start to determine winners in different age groups.
The racers came from 30 states for the eighth annual triathlon.
Looking remarkably fresh for people who got up as early as 4 a.m. to make the 7 a.m. start, supporters pushed strollers, sipped coffee and carried homemade signs while they lined up around the route.
Some of the racers worked in relay teams, like three 16-year-olds from Naperville who attend Metea Valley High School.
Neal Patel swam, Sheldon Roberts biked and Lauren Lindholm ran. And while all are tempted to do the whole race individually, they don't want to give up their team status.
"It's more fun as a team," said Patel. "You're racing with friends. It's the friend effect."
A group of women in their early 30s who teach at the YMCA in Plainfield said triathlons offer good goals for training programs, and the cross training can be helpful when fighting an injury.
"It's fun and multi-discipline," said Courtney Orlando. "It's not just running, You can improve in an area that you're maybe not so good at."
Dawn Bergklint kept lip gloss in a little bag on her bike.
"I like to add pink and femininity to a manly, rough sport," said Bergklint, an experienced triathlete. "I have a pink bike, too."
Swimming at Centennial Beach is more difficult than in a concrete pool because the swimmers churn up sand, then racers can't see, said Bergklint, and her friends agreed the water was crowded and choppy.
Three men who met in a Chicago condominium community said family commitments cut into their training time.
Andrew Dunlop admitted to walking during the "run" portion of the race, and John Rogan said he probably walked some in the pool, too.
Their friend Kurt Ahlm, who recently moved to LaGrange, said the run was probably the most challenging part for him.
"Your body gets tired," he said. "I make it a point never to walk. No matter how much pain, I keep going. It's the only goal I set for myself."