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Centennial Beach Athlete to Compete in World Triathlon Championship

Brian Dickhut discovered the charms of  Naperville's Centennial Beach the same year that he became intrigued with triathlons—in 2010.  Over the past 8 years, the Beach and triathlon training have become intertwined as Brian’s athletic achievements and goals progressed.

From his first triathlon in 2011, Brian’s journey took him from a Sprint triathlon to Olympic distance triathlons, half and full marathons, several Half-Ironman races and 3 full Ironman races—with more than 40 races completed in total.  In 2017 he qualified for nationals. In 2018, after stepping up his training even further, he secured a spot representing TeamUSA (and Centennial Beach!) at the World Triathlon Championship in Gold Coast, Australia September 12-16, 2018.

Brian Dickhut at the Ironman Wisconsin, Monona Terrace in Madison, WI, Sept. 2017

Brian and the Beach Bums

Renata Yuill, Brian Dickhut and Kevin Portner—the Beach Bums at the Beach on July 19, 2018

As Brian spent time at Centennial Beach, he made friends with a group of loyal Beachgoers who call themselves “The Beach Bums.” According to one of the current Beach Bums, Renata Yuill, the group is ever evolving, and has included long-time members such as Marge Walsh, Ann Jansen, Carol Doll, Joyce Wehrli, and Adrienne Austin, to name a few. Renata explained, “We like to sit on the hill overlooking the deep end. Aside from swimming we also like to play cards and Rumikub. Brian Dickhut has been sharing the hill with us for a few years now. He is a very outgoing and cheerful person, and likes to share his triathlon stories with us. It is exciting to follow his accomplishments and we encourage him along the way.”

Invitation to Support Brian’s Journey to World Championships
 On August 12, the Beach Bums are hosting a fundraiser for Brian at their annual picnic. They have secured several raffle prizes, including a 2019 season pass to Centennial Beach, a 6-month membership to Fort Hill Activity Center and a huge beach bag stuffed with beach essentials. Raffle tickets are $10 each, with the proceeds going to support Brian Dickhut’s travel and training expenses for the world championship races. Members and guests of Centennial Beach are invited to purchase raffle tickets at the Beach on August 12.

In an email interview with Brian, he expressed his appreciation for his Centennial Beach friends over the years. “I am deeply grateful for the amazing Centennial Beach community we have and the support and encouragement I’ve received during my triathlon journey,” he said. “Centennial has been an incredible community resource for generations and I hope it will continue to be so long into the future. My triathlon career and many great friendships and memories would not exist without it.”

The top of the hill where the Beach Bums sit at Centennial Beach

Brian’s Early Years
Brian grew up near Port Byron, Illinois—a small, tight-knit community along the banks of the Mississippi River. He attended the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and first came to the Naperville area in 1999 on a summer internship. “I loved the area and the opportunities available and after graduation, I took a full-time software engineering position here.”

This summer, Brian’s home base for training includes Centennial Beach and the extensive trail system in Naperville. A typical day’s training will include 2200 meters of swimming (equivalent to approximately 1 ½ miles) at the Beach, a 20-mile bike ride along the DuPage River Trail and a 5-6 mile run.

In 2017, when Brian first decided to step up his training to prepare for nationals, he joined a local triathlon training club, Endure It! Sports.

“There we train year-round 7 days a week with run club, indoor computrainer cycling classes, track practices, group rides, and masters swim instruction.  On a typical day my alarm would be set for 4:15 a.m. and I'd be riding or running by 5:00 a.m. before going in to work.  Being surrounded by talented athletes helped to push me in training to reach new levels of performance both mentally and physically.  The hard work and early hours began to pay off as I achieved PRs (personal records) in each race of the season and culminated in securing a spot representing TeamUSA in the 2018 World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia this September.”

Brian at the USAT National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska, 2017

Five Races in 16 Days
Leading up to the national competition in Cleveland August 11-12, Brian will be racing in several events, including the Naperville Sprint Triathlon on August 5 at Centennial Beach. Counting the two races in nationals, he will compete in 5 races in 16 days.

“The upcoming Naperville Sprint Triathlon remains one of my favorite local events and this year will mark my 7th year participating,” said Brian. “It is a great race for first-timers and veterans alike. My focus for the Naperville race will be on having fast clean transitions (the time between swim and bike or bike and run) and racing with good form and good pacing.  If we get the fundamentals right here, it should give confidence going into the back-to-back race days in Cleveland where we'll be digging deep and going all-in.”

Gratitude for Community Support
“I'm blown away by the kindness and generosity of those who recently surprised me with the news of a beach raffle to help cover some of the travel expenses to ‘send Brian to Australia to represent TeamUSA’.  It was unexpected, but as a self-funded athlete it is a deeply appreciated gesture.

“I'll try my best to pay it forward by continuing to invest time teaching others what I've learned along the way, triathlon-related or otherwise, and helping build the confidence necessary to reach their goals.  I believe that big dreams are possible when they are preceded by many small steps in the right direction.  Sometimes people just need the right encouragement to take those first steps.   I got started in part because others believed in me and took me under their wing.  I hope I can spark the aspirations of others in a similar way in whatever passion they wish to pursue.  I know from experience that hard work and determination can pay off and hope to see others find the same joy in the process that I have.”

Diving at Centennial Beach

Brian diving at Centennial Beach

When I met him at Centennial Beach, Brian told me about his fun with diving. I realized after hearing him talk about diving, that he was the one that I, as a Beach patron, had seen as he demonstrated his dives on a Sunday afternoon. There was such a large crowd of people watching him dive, and shouting with delight, that I couldn’t help wondering what was happening. Brian explained:

“For many beach patrons I may be best known to them for diving and teaching others how to dive after and between workouts for the day.  I try to make time for anyone who asks for help learning a new skill. I've lost count but I've taught about 150-200 people of all ages how to dive, flip, and throw "gainers" off the boards over the years including many of the lifeguards and a local elected official in their 60s who wanted to learn how to do a backflip.  It's a myth that old dogs can't learn new tricks -- anyone can learn at any age if they put their mind to it!”



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