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Cool weather doesn’t hinder 30th anniversary of Leon’s Triathlon

Updated: July 4, 2013 6:51AM



The annual Leon’s Triathlon welcomes several hundred triathletes to Hammond’s Wolf Lake Park. Some are ultra competitive, while others are taking a recreational stab at the Olympic-distance event. Every one of them is prepared for more than a walk in the park.

Naperville, Ill. resident Todd Hershey, a Zoot product representative who was on-hand for Leon’s, said his company is ready to outfit the triathlete for virtually any weather.

“We’re also celebrating 30 years in business this year,” said Hershey, who played tennis for Ball State.

From their design for the first 1980s one-piece “tri” suit (an example of which Hershey showed at a vendor tent) to their latest cold black (explained as: the sun doesn’t see the black) gear, Zoot has remained on the cutting edge of designing specialized gear.

Hershey recommended a wetsuit for those swimming during Sunday’s unseasonably chilly conditions. He said he would also suggest premium footgear and accessories from third parties.

“It’s the Midwest,” one participant told another letting, him know he could handle the nip in the air.

‘Be careful on the dismount; it’s wet’: John Hudec of Schererville was among nearly three dozen NWITRI club members competing in the three-sport event. After the tri, he gathered with his teammates and was feeling most satisfied with his bicycling performance.

“If you just have a bike you can tool around on, a swimsuit, running shoes — you could really get into (triathlons) for nothing,” Hudec said. “But I have an $8,000 bike just for triathlons.”

Not to worry, spending mega bucks is not required for success in triathlons, let alone recreational participation.

“I’m the swimmer,” NWITRI member Elaine McCracken said. “There’s three of us that are swimmers.”

Standing next to McCracken was Region Racing (a USA Cycling affiliate) member Jason Buxbaum of Hobart.

“I’m horrible in the water and I’m good on the bike,” Buxbaum said.

McCracken invited Buxbaum to train with her group to improve his versatility. She told him that he could be an honorary member.

Though swimming is her strong suit, she said her financial investment in it is modest.

“If you get a wetsuit off season, you could probably get one for $100,” McCracken said. “My wetsuit is from 2007 and I paid about $180 bucks for it.”

She summarized her thoughts by explaining that tri participants have to be at least minimally prepared and geared up for each segment. Being cold or swallowing water does not help the participant who’s moving on to cycling and running.



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