Chicago Triathlon

Triathletes participate in the bicycle portion of the 31st annual Life Time Chicago Triathlon near Lake Shore Drive. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune / August 25, 2013)

A change in the 2014 Transamerica Chicago Triathlon will give athletes a rare opportunity this summer.

For the first time since 1996, race organizers have created a new bike course that will further explore the sights and sounds of downtown Chicago.

The track will now begin with riders trekking down the lakefront along Lake Shore Drive before veering off onto Lower Wacker Drive, through the financial district and onto the Lower Randolph Busway.

“It’s a game changer having a two-and-a-half mile highway in the middle of the city,” Scott Hutmacher, a regional marketing manager for the event, said. “You talk about a unique experience and that’s exactly what we’re going for."

A map of the course can be found here

The course change is the second major bike-related modification this year. In April, the Chicago Triathlon announced it would supply a limited amount of riders with Divvy bikes for the SuperSprint event at Montrose Beach on Aug. 23.

Race organizers secured 100 Divvy bikes for the SuperSprint, 92 of which Hutmacher said were already reserved.

Still, with 7,000 participants expected at the triathlon, it’s the new bike course that will highlight the race, and the city as well.

"We’ve learned over the years it’s not just a monotonous experience but we have a lot of athletes out there,” Hutmacher said. “We’re trying to build prestige. We wanted to give them a true tour of Chicago. Something no athlete could ride any other day of the year.”

The triathlon will take place on Aug. 24 and athletes can register at chicagotriathlon.com.