Ben Collins has home-course advantage in triathlon
BY DALE BOWMAN For Sun-Times Media August 23, 2013 9:42PM
FILE - This is a Sunday, July 25, 2010 file photo of David Hauss of France, right, as he leads Ben Collins of the US , No 54, and Alessandro Fabian of Italy, No 31, out of the water after the first lap during the men's London Triathlon in Hyde Park, London. Triathletes at the 2000 Olympics had to negotiate Sydney's shark-infested harbor, so the ducks and geese of London's Hyde Park seem unlikely to cause much fear. Revealing their plans Thursday Sept 2, 2010 for the first "downtown" triathlon since the event's debut at the Sydney Games, London 2012 organizers also promised that the park's thriving wildlife would not be unduly disturbed either. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
31st Chicago triathlon
When: Sunday. First wave begins at 6 a.m. Pro field begins about
11:15 a.m. for women and about
11:30 a.m. for men.
Where: Swim: Monroe Harbor; bike: Lake Shore Drive, Randolph to
Foster, then back to Randolph transition area; run: Randolph transition area to finish just south of Balbo on Columbus.
Top prize: Male and female pro
winners earn $10,000 each.
Updated: August 24, 2013 10:22PM
Ben Collins is a little different.
Not many elite triathletes or runners have made Chicago their home. Colorado is preferred, and Collins did his stint there.
But last summer, days before the Life Time Tri Chicago, Collins moved to the city with his girlfriend, who was pursuing medical studies at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. Collins now is working on an MBA there.
‘‘I am really excited to race at a hometown race; Chicago is my home,’’ Collins said last week. ‘‘I didn’t just move here for the short term. I grew accustomed to living here.’’
That hometown advantage might matter Sunday when the Life Time Tri Chicago hits the lakefront. The swimming portion is in Monroe Harbor. The biking section follows on the north end of Lake Shore Drive, with the run concluding near Balbo on Columbus.
Collins, 30, trails Hunter Kemper by a half-point — 26.5-26 — in the Life Time Tri Series. In essence, Collins needs to finish ahead Kemper on Sunday to take over the series lead, which is based on seven races. However, Kemper has done well in heat.
The forecast calls for rising temperatures and high humidity when the pros race Sunday at midday, but Collins said: ‘‘I am neutral [about the weather]. But I have been training in this, so nothing is [unusual].’’
Collins does most of his training on his own, swimming in Lake Michigan when conditions allow and running around the Museum of Science and Industry and Jackson Park.
He runs some with University of Chicago runners. He does some riding in Evanston and found some former college swimmers.
‘‘I have been able to find the
resources for massage and recovery,’’ Collins said.
Growing up, he was a swimmer.
‘‘But I really enjoy the cycling,’’ Collins said. ‘‘I would say cycling is my favorite part.’’
He described the ride on Lake Shore Drive, which can have treacherous stretches of pavement after the upheavals of summer heat, as ‘‘interesting.’’
‘‘You get to ride up and down the Chicago lakefront,’’ he said. ‘‘It is not the smoothest of roads, but I really like urban races. I find it
exciting to be in the middle of a city and racing. It is not something you typically get to do.’’
Then again, Collins isn’t typical. His path to triathlons started in
Hawaii. After college, he was working on underwater robotics, didn’t have an athletic outlet and found triathlons.
‘‘I ended up being good enough to make it a career,’’ he said.
But he thinks the big picture of triathlons is far more important.
‘‘Triathlon is a great sport for people to create a fitness goal and to give them something to work for,’’ he said. ‘‘It is really how I started.’’
He thinks triathletes in Chicago have a particularly good way to get started with the Chicago Triathlon Club and, for the more serious,
‘‘There are so many resources, you have to look around and choose one,’’ he said.