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When the little ones give it a tri

I had the privilege of partaking in Trifusion's annual Kid's Triathlon this past Saturday. Having only seen pictures of past events, I could already tell this experience would serve as one to remember. Not only did I have the opportunity to work alongside my friends doing something other than swimming laps or riding hills, but we, as a team, provided some of our community's youngest the chance to see and experience what many of their parents do. In addition, they witnessed a healthy dose of competition, fitness, and fun that will hopefully translate to greater motivation to stay active on their own.

The kids weren't the only ones having a great time. Parents came out to support their kids, which meant that not only did they stand on the sidelines, but many helped take off swim caps and goggles, and then don shoes and helmets before running their kids out to the bike course. As one of the volunteers stationed in the transition area, I witnessed several of the kids had some pretty impressive mounting and dismounting skills that left me wondering if I could ever do anything so smoothly. Others simply took in the atmosphere and enjoyed their time in transition as their parents frantically waved them on and encouraged a faster performance. I saw plenty of barbie shoes and dinosaur socks in the youngest wave of competitors. The small boy with the shark helmet clearly knew what he was doing in his effort to intimidate his way through transition after hopping onto his bike.

Each child, after coming out from the aquatics center, was waved through transition and helped onto the bike. Depending on the wave in which they were apart (determined by their age), they rode one to four loops around a designated bike course lined with Trifusion volunteers and parents. Upon arriving back into transition to park their bikes and throw off their helmets, they were directed to a funny guy wearing a bright orange shirt and red afro wig that pointed them to the run course on the grassy turf behind the aquatics center.

Having spent all of my time in the transition area, I can't speak for what went on at the finish line. However, kids came back with smiles and medals around their necks to claim their bikes and gear they had left just minutes before.

Quite frankly, I can't exactly put into words how being apart of this event made me feel. To have the chance to cheer on such young kids through the sport I've come to rely on and respect for it's ability to give me fitness, find me friends, and remove my stress makes me feel so much better about where this sport is headed in the future. It's certainly a sport of inclusion and participation. The Trifusion Kid's Triathlon goes to show age hardly matters.

After setting up transition and putting on the swimsuits,
these kids are ready to go!

A triathlon wouldn't be a triathlon without
having your body marked. Kari Budd watches
this little guy's reaction.
The swim was held in Whitworth's Aquatic Center, where
kids swam anywhere from 20 to 100 yards.

What looks like mad chaos actually turned out to be just that.
These guys are headed out to ride three loops around the bike

The Greenfield family getting ready to head out onto the
bike leg.
Six happy campers!

Finally, for the purpose of fulfilling a service learning project for one of my physical therapy classes, I want to make sure a few points are clear, if they weren't already done so in the blog above.
  1. This opportunity to volunteer reflects what it means for physical therapists and our job to promote a healthy, active lifestyle. It is one thing to do so when our clients/patients are adults, but it is an entirely different and unique opportunity when we can start at such an early age. Many of these kids have parents who compete in their own events: road races, cycling events, and triathlons. There aren't as many opportunities for these kids to have a chance to experience these activities. Having the chance to volunteer at this kids triathlon allowed me to support kids in an endeavor that I've come to enjoy and respect myself. 
  2. Perhaps the greatest point I took away from the article, The Servant as Leader, by Greenleaf, is that some of the greatest leaders are the ones who listen, who contribute, and who are servants themselves. The kids triathlon allowed me and triathletes like myself to serve those in the triathlon community who are perhaps the most overlooked. Triathlon is definitely more of an inclusive sport than many others, but rarely are they available to the younger crowd (sub-12 years). When you think about it, you more often hear parents say, "I'll be busy this weekend shuttling my kids to their soccer/basketball/baseball games," versus, "My kids have a triathlon this weekend we'll be going to." While there is nothing wrong with this, it goes to show how unique of an experience the kids triathlon is. 
A video highlighting the event: By Dave Erickson 


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