CHICAGO (WLS) -- After the pandemic changed so much last year, the lifetime Chicago Triathlon returned to downtown with 4,000 participants and thousands more cheering them on.
As each athlete competed for a different reason, they all agreed it was good to be back.
There was a sigh of relief and accomplishment as they crossed the finish line downtown. People of all ages broke through the summer heat.
"It's a surreal feeling," said Kyle Tilley, participant. "I've never done something like this."
It was the first time for many of the participants. They hail from 47 different states and five countries, and for some there's no better feeling than completing the triathlon right here at home.
"I'm from Chicago, born and raised, so to do this home court advantage for the first one and kinda know where I was the whole time was nice," said Chris Spurlock.
Spurlock got out of the Navy a year ago, and the triathlon served as the perfect next challenge for him. And he had an extra push today, remembering the 13 service members killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"I drove off that motivate today, so just want to so I did that for them," he said.
The triathlon involves a swim, then a bike and then a run near Columbus, Balbo and Michigan avenues. COVID-19 rapid testing was available, along with free vaccinations for the thousands filling the streets to cheer. That support was missed during the pandemic.
"The people outside cheering you on, the one person on Hollywood waving at you, you wonder what gets them out, it's just good feelings," said Donald Cook, participant.