Robert Fozkos of Valparaiso competes in the cycling portion of Leon's Triathlon at Wolf Lake Memorial Park in Hammond on Sunday, June 1, 2014. | Michael Gard / For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2014 6:27AM
HAMMOND — A warm, sun-soaked Sunday morning at Wolf Lake Park set the stage for the annual Leon’s Triathlon, an event billed as the “World’s Fastest Triathlon”
“We were extremely fortunate today,” Leon Wolek said, the founder of this event back in 1980. “With the winter and spring that we’ve had … this was tremendous. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The event kicked off with opening ceremonies that were dedicated to current and former members of the military. Jim Cornelison brought his rendition of the National Anthem from Blackhawks games at the United Center to the event’s pre-race ceremony.
The race itself started with a 0.9-mile swim in Wolf Lake, continued with a 24.8-mile bike ride through parts of Hammond and Whiting and concluded with a 6.2-mile run.
Street closures were prompted throughout the area because of the race, with Calumet Avenue being closed from just north of the toll road to 119th St. and portions of Hohman Avenue were closed north of 141st St.
Hammond residents Irma and Jose Casanova took in the day’s events from lawn chairs in the front yard of their home along Calumet Avenue.
“We were watching them during the swimming earlier this morning and as soon as they were done we came back over here,” Jose Casanova said.
The Casanovas had their eye on one athlete in particular: Alex Martin, their son-in-law, who called out to his relatives as he flew by on his bicycle.
Family was a large theme of the day, especially among competitors. Hammond resident Bob Cavallo competed in the triathlon at the age of 66 along with his 38-year-old daughter Jessica.
Bob Cavallo finished with a time of 2 hours, 49 minutes and 8 seconds, good for first-place in his 65-69 age group.
“I’m a swimmer, so I liked that beginning part,” he said. “Unfortunately, that was the shortest part.”
Jessica Cavallo’s time was 3:23.59. “He kicks my (butt) every time,” the 1998 Morton graduate joked after the race. “We’ve done numerous races together. He was the one that got me into running and got us into these triathlons. It’s a great way to stay connected.”
While the elder Cavallo enjoyed his time in the water, his daughter was talking about getting to take their bicycles across roads where cars haven’t traveled since 2009. Much of the race’s cycling portion took place on closed sections of Cline Avenue.
“You could tell that there haven’t been any cars up there,” Jessica Cavallo said. “There were weeds growing on the sides that you had to avoid; it’s like an obstacle course now.”
Comcast SportsNet will air an episode of coverage from the day’s event on July 4th.