Divisions, Groups & Start Times

The Chicago Triathlon is far from a one-size-fits-all event. Race weekend is composed of a variety of special programs and competitions, each designed to accommodate participants of every ability, interest level and goal. 

In the spirit of providing a customized race experience, athletes now have the ability to decide how competitive they wish to be, who they start alongside, and/or when they start their respective journey.

The table on the right indicates the various start groups available to participants, their competitive nature, and a sample of start times from a previous year. The 2021 start schedule will be announced closer to race day. Start group offerings (denoted in red) allow like-minded or less-familiar athletes to rack together in Transition, to start together, and (theoretically) to finish at approximately the same time.

Individuals must select from one of these divisions/start groups within the registration process. Full descriptions for each group are included below.

Don’t Delay!
When you’ve made your choice, click the “Register” button above. As special groups reach capacity, they will be removed from the list of available options. Please note: The default classification for all participants is the Competitive (5-year) Age Group.

Questions? Feel free to email us at chicagotri@ltevents.zendesk.com

Competitive Divisions

Participants within these divisions are primarily focused on speed, each of whom are eligible for competitive awards within their specific group. Competitive categories include:

Age Groups
All individuals are automatically placed in this category, unless choosing a different division during the registration process. Age groups are subdivided by gender and five-year age increments (e.g. 20-24, 24-29, 30-34, etc.). It is important to note that Age Groups are assigned based on athlete age as of December 31 of race year (thus no changes during the calendar year).

Formerly known as the “Elite Amateur” division, these are extremely fast, non-professional athletes competing in the International distance. Premier athletes start early in the wave order, and are subdivided by gender, each of whom must meet (and submit proof of) qualifying times for eligibility:

  • Premier Female: 2:30:00 or better
  • Premier Male: 2:15:00 or better

At the Chicago Triathlon, Premier competitors will compete against other Premier Amateur athletes in their respective Group, not within the general Age Group competition. Premier Amateur participants will be seeded into the opening waves of the international distance event, competing head-to-head with other top amateur triathletes. Awards will be presented to the top 3 in each gender.

Triple Challenge
For multi-sport zealots looking for the ultimate experience, we offer the Triple Challenge. This special competition combines three events into a single weekend — a total of 59 miles that includes 1.63 miles in the water, 46.3 miles on the bike and 10.85 miles on the run. Click here to learn more about the Triple Challenge, guaranteed to sell-out quickly.

Actively enrolled college students are eligible for discounted race entry (Sprint or International distance, both $99). To ensure eligibility, requestors must submit a photo of their current/valid student ID before receiving a custom discount link. Submit requests to chicagotri@ltevents.zendesk.com. Collegiate athletes who register for the event without sending a valid student ID prior to registering are not eligible for the discount. Once registered, Collegiate participants must start with their respective “Collegiate” division and are NOT eligible to transfer into other divisions.

First Responders (100 Club Challenge)
This division is open to all active duty safety personnel (Fire, Police, EMS, Military, Government Agencies, etc.). Proof of status must be presented at Packet Pick Up. First Responders are subdivided by gender.

Originally known as the First Responders’ Competition, the program began in 2007 as a friendly wager among seven members of the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Office of the FBI. Since then, the competition has hosted more than 1,000 participants from more than 24 agencies across the country.

In 2016, this special competition was been renamed on behalf of a new partnership with The 100 Club of Chicago. The purpose of this organization is to provide for the surviving spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics who lose their lives in the line of duty. This includes federal, state, county and local officers, firefighters and paramedics stationed in both Cook and Lake Counties. 

Through both public donations and private fundraising efforts, the program plans to generate more than $25,000 in direct contributions to the 100 Club of Chicago during the 2017 season. There are two ways to participate in the 100 Club Challenge: as a First Responder, or as a civilian fundraiser. Click here to learn more about the program.

Clydesdale / Athena
Generally heavier participants may opt-into this division. These athletes are subdivided by gender, each of whom must meet these minimum weight requirements, and will be required to weigh-in prior to competition:

  • Athena: 165 lbs
  • Clydesdale: 220 lbs

Para Triathletes
Athletes with physical disabilities. Para Triathletes are subdivided by gender, and can be classified by a variety of standards. Typically, Life Time Tri classifies Para athletes into these categories:

  • Ambulatory
  • Visually Impaired
  • Wheelchair

Mountain Bike
Athletes using bikes with tires at least 1.75 inches in width may enroll in this competitive division, also subdivided by gender. Typically this division is comprised of mountain, hybrid and cruiser bikes (all with thicker tires vs. a typical road bike). Although athletes in either international or sprint races may elect to ride thick wheeled bikes, only participants who register specifically for the Mountain Bike Division will have the opportunity to compete for Mountain Bike Division awards.

Relay Teams
Participants have the option to enter varying distances as a relay team, consisting of 2–3 individuals. Teams may elect which person will complete each specific discipline. Team members share a single timing chip, which is passed from one team member to another in transition. While not all relay teams are competitive by nature, all teams are eligible for competitive awards. Relay teams are subdivided into these groups:

  • Female
  • Male
  • Co-Ed (mixed gender teams)

Recreational Divisions

Participants in these divisions are primarily focused on the experience at hand, either racking together in Transition or starting alongside others not typically associated with their peer group. Recreational divisions are not eligible for competitive awards, and capacities may be limited at specific events. Recreational categories include:

The First-Timers’ Program (special program, open to the public)
If you’re brand new to the sport, consider joining the popular Chicago Triathlon First-Timers’ Program (formally known as the “Live Grit First-Timers’ Program”).  Started in 2014, the program offers a myriad of complimentary educational series, training support, access to the Chicago Triathlon Open Water Swim Clinic Series and other race weekend perks. Participant also rack together in Transition, as well as start together on race day, free of intimidation from others. This special program is complimentary (with race registration) and limited to the first 150 Sprint and 150 International distance registrants. As a recreational division, participants are not eligible for competitive awards, but that doesn’t really matter to this audience (all will receive a finisher’s medal and an official time)! Click here to learn more about the program.

Friends & Family
This new, non-competitive division provides an opportunity for friends and family to enjoy the day together. Note: To help ensure athletes are both racked (in Transition) and start within proximity of peers, we encourage friends/family to register at the same time, as the start order is chronological by registration timestamp. Friends & Family participants will receive periodic support from event staff, coaches and officials. The Friends and Family group will start toward the end of their respective distances.

Official charity partner and tri clubs/teams may earn the opportunity for private group starts, subject to terms and conditions at varying events. Contact your Team or Charity Manager for more details.