In four weeks, thousands of athletes from around the world will come to Chicago to compete in the Lifetime Chicago Triathlon. WGN’s Mike Lowe is participating again and raising money raise money for It Takes a Village Chicago, a non-profit that builds weight rooms for youth in underserved communities and underfunded schools. You can donate here.

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — This week, in Bolingbrook, we’re catching up with Jeff Sabbath, a triathlete who has competed in every Chicago Triathlon since the founding of the event back in 1983.

This year will be his 40th consecutive.  

“When you start out you don’t think ‘I’m going to do 40 years of this,’” Sabbath said.  “I was pretty consumed with it and did a lot of races.”

It all started in 1982 when, as a 23-year-old, he watched an episode of ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“It was a famous one when Julie Moss started faltering less than a mile from the finish,” Sabbath said. “(She) was crawling, and they’re covering the dramatic footage of it. And the eventual woman’s leader ran by her when they’re covering her crawling to the finish line. It was pretty impactful.”

Sabbath, a former high school swimmer and avid runner was inspired by Moss’s grit and her willingness to push the limits of endurance.  He was motivated him to test his own athletic abilities.

Forty years later he’s still training six days a week. 

“It’s not boring because you can swim, you can run, you can bike, it keeps it fresh,” he said.

He said he has enjoyed the training as much as the race itself – especially biking through his hometown of Bolingbrook.

“I don’t think you do anything for 40 years if you don’t enjoy the process,” he said

The first Chicago Triathlon had just 760 athletes, but participation has exploded as the sport has grown.

On August 27, nearly 10,000 athletes who come to Chicago from around the world to swim nearly a mile in Lake Michigan, bike 24.8 miles on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, and then run 6.2 miles along the lake front.  

“Chicago is a great summer city, and we take advantage of the summer when we do it,” he said. “I always call it – my own private name for the triathlon is – the end of summer fitness celebration down by the lake.”