Course Details

The Chicago Triathlon provides athletes and spectators alike with unparalleled access to the nation’s top metropolis. A protected harbor swim, a multi-level, scenic, flat ride followed by a rousing run through the Museum Campus translate into the ultimate urban triathlon experience. The Chicago Triathlon course is wheelchair and completely paratriathlete friendly.

Closed Bike Course: This event featured a 100% traffic-free Bike Course. The 15-mile stretch along Lake Shore Drive will occupy all southbound traffic lanes.

Athletes will continue to ride on their left (pass on right) during this portion, completing a clockwise loop between Randolph and Hollywood. International distance bikers will revert to traditional ride-right, pass-left rules once entering Lower Wacker Drive.

*Please note: Course details are tentative and subject to change. These details will be confirmed as we get closer to race weekend.

The bike course will allow Premier participants the ability to start first, providing unobstructed space along previously congested Lake Shore Drive. International race participants will start next, allowing them protection from prolonged exposure to possible heat issues. International distance athletes will no longer ride a second loop on Lake Shore Drive, offering Sprint participants a less congested course of their own.

Sunday participants have the opportunity to check their bikes into the DuSable Harbor Transition area on Saturday. Participants may rack their bikes between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Only bikes with athlete numbers affixed may be racked. No bags may be dropped overnight. Around the clock security will be provided. We also offer a complimentary bike check within Salon D at the Chicago Triathlon Multisport & Fitness Expo to accommodate anyone who takes advantage of this option.

Transition opens Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m. Participants must be body marked, wrist-banded and have bike frame stickers applied prior to entering this secured area. Reference the maps within the Transition area to locate your specific rack.
NOTE: We will be checking ALL backpacks, duffle bags, drawstring bags, or similar bags as you enter transition. Arrive early. Allow for adequate time to complete the process.

Transition will close promptly at 5:45 a.m. for all Sprint and International Participants. A separate, late check-in option is available to Sprint athletes ONLY from 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. using a special East Gate. Please consult the maps below for more details.


Once your bike has been checked into the Transition Area, you cannot remove your bike until after the start of the race when you start your bike leg. Bike mechanics will be available to help with tire inflation and mechanical issues. You will need your bib number/wristband to reclaim your bike after the race.

The swim is held in Monroe Harbor, with the start line at Balbo Dr. and Lake Shore Drive.

Participants should plan to be in the Swim Start area at least 30 minutes prior to their dedicated wave start time.

The swim will have a rolling start.

What is a rolling start?

Athletes are set off in groups of approximately 5-10 athletes for the swim start and will be sent off every 5-10 seconds. In effect, this will create a “time trial” dynamic for the race and for the determination of the results.

Each athlete individual race time will start when they cross the swim start timing mat, under the swim start arch.

How does this work?

The (on-shore) pre swim start area will be divided into starting zones/corals. Groups will commence a rolling start based on a schedule to be determined closer to race weekend: 

Timing chips will activate once athletes cross the designated swim start timing mat, at the entry stairs to the swim course.

Note: Inflatable devices are not permitted.

International swimmers first head south, swimming parallel to the sea wall for 380 yards. They then make a 180 degree left turn and continue north, passing the start area and exiting the water just south of the Chicago Yacht Club. Sprint swimmers head directly north, swimming parallel to the sea wall and exit just south of the Chicago Yacht Club.

After exiting the water, participants run north along a carpeted path for approximately 450 yards. Transition is located on the grass reserve south of Randolph Street and east of Lake Shore Dr. Participants enter transition from the south end, then exit (on bike) at the north end adjacent to Randolph Street.

The course offers participants a true tour of Chicago, starting at the scenic lakefront, tunneling underneath the bustling Loop, through the heart of the financial district, then cruising down the city’s most exclusive freeway.

The 2018 event debuted a 100% traffic-free Bike Course, which now utilizes all southbound traffic lanes (closed entirely to traffic). Sprint and International distance cyclists will now enter Lake Shore Drive from the southbound Randolph Street exit ramp, located 50 yards west of the previous on-ramp.

All cyclists will ride northbound in a clockwise direction, utilizing the two westernmost lanes while staying to the left (passing on the right). Cyclists will turn around at Hollywood Avenue and proceed south, utilizing the two easternmost lanes and again staying to the left (passing on the right). International participants will exit at the Wacker Drive egress ramp, while Sprint participants exit (as usual) at the Randolph Street egress ramp.

The International bike course then leads west along Intermediate Wacker Drive, where the unique experience begins: a ride underneath the city along the newly-rebuilt (and completely traffic-free) Intermediate Wacker Drive. Cyclists will proceed west then south to Monroe Street, turning around underneath Jackson Blvd, then returning north and east along Lower Wacker. Just past Michigan Avenue, the course leads cyclists to another down ramp, setting-up an exclusive experience: cruising down the Lower Randolph Busway – Chicago’s most secretive and unobstructed expressway. The open-air Busway offers a unique vantage point for spectators as triathletes ride through the heart of Grant Park while suspended 15 feet below ground level. Athletes will proceed south through Place to a turnaround point underneath I-55, then return north on the Busway, back to Middle Randolph and into transition.

The International bike course requires two distinct ride/pass zones, relative to specific areas of the course:

1. Ride Left, Pass Right
This rule remains in effect for the first 14.5 miles of the International Bike Course, along Lake Shore Drive. The rule was created to keep cyclists clear of activity in the middle of the road (which are buffered by safety cones). Cyclists who wish to pass must look for clearance to their right side, move to the right, complete the pass, then move back to the left. Those being passed must remain four bike lengths behind in order to avoid a drafting penalty. The Ride Left, Pass Right rule applies to the entire Sprint bike course field.

2. Ride Right, Pass Left
(International participants only)
After immediately crossing the Chicago River, all International distance athletes will turn left, exiting Lake Shore Drive at the Wacker Drive egress ramp. This down ramp leads cyclists west on Intermediate Wacker Drive. At this point, all cyclists must follow the standard Ride Right, Pass Left protocol for the duration of the race. Cyclists who wish to pass must look for clearance behind them and on the left. Once clear, they will move left, complete the pass, then move back to their right side.

Race Officials will patrol the bike course, ensuring safety, proper positioning and passing among the field. In addition, 12 Bike Marshals will be on course, reiterating rules, aiding stranded cyclists and ensuring general course safety. Participants are asked to obey all signals and instruction. Penalties, including disqualification, can be assessed for noncompliance.

The Bike In access to Transition is adjacent to Randolph on the right hand side of the bike exit. The flow for this transition is north to south with the run exit being slightly west of the swim entry.

Bike Support Crew
Blown tire? Slipped gear? Busted brake? The Bike support crew can help!

The run course begins at the grass reserve just south of Randolph. Competitors run south on the middle (asphalt) sidewalk/path. At Buckingham Fountain they continue on the grass until they rejoin the asphalt path. They continue on this path until they reach the Museum campus where they connect with the lake front path and continue running south. Sprint competitors cross Waldron Dr., where they turn around and head north, keeping left of oncoming runners on the same path.

The turnaround for international runners will be approximately a half-mile south of McCormick Place. There they turn around and head north, keeping left of oncoming runners on the same path.

Both groups will pass the Shedd Aquarium, continuing west under the Lake Shore Drive underpass and up the sidewalk to Columbus Dr. All runners will then make a right and continue north on Columbus to the finish line just ahead.

There will be water and Lemon-Lime Gatorade Endurance Formula available on course at all aid stations and at the start and finish lines. All aid stations on the course will have dozens of enthusiastic volunteers and portable toilets located nearby.

Gatorade Endurance
 is proud to be the Official Sports Drink and Energy Gel of The Chicago Triathlon, hydrating athletes on race day. The Gatorade Endurance line of products is an elite line of sports product for endurance athletes who have specific fueling needs.  Grounded in years of hydration and sports nutrition research, conducted by Gatorade Sports Science Institute, the Gatorade Endurance line of products help deliver fluids and nutrients endurance athletes need for training and racing.  Learn more about the Gatorade Endurance Line of products at

Lemon-Lime Gatorade Endurance Formula will be available on course at all aid stations. Endurance Formula has nearly two times the sodium and three times the potassium of traditional Gatorade.  It contains no artificial flavors and has a light taste.  Gatorade Endurance Gel provides 20g of carb energy, natural flavors, and a light texture and taste.  Take it just before, or on course, and chase with water.  Available on race day in Blackberry, Apple, Pear or Vanilla.

This race will utilize the EAS system, encompassing a color-coded system to reveal current event conditions. Participants will notice flags posted throughout the Race Venue, at the Finish Line and at each Aid Station on Race Day. EAS updates will be communicated through PA announcements, social media, web posts and/or dedicated emails.

Virtual Map: International Course

Virtual Map: Sprint Course