As the Olympic games kicked off across the pond in London with top athletes from around the world competing for gold medals, there were a number of local youngsters chasing down medals of their own on Saturday morning. Nearly 150 kids, with the oldest participants at age 12 and the youngest representative at 3 years old, swam, biked and ran their way across the finish line of the 9th annual Scheels Kids’ Triathlon at the Sparks Marina, hosted by the City of Sparks Parks and Recreation Department.
“It’s just another fun family event that we like the community to get involved in,” City of Sparks Recreation Specialist Tanja Ramociotti said. “It’s a good way for the kids to be introduced to the sport of triathlon and that way rather they can learn three sports in one. We just want to support another healthy activity for younger kids.
“Everyone loves it. They enjoy all of it. The kids really enjoy it and the parents think it’s great for them to get out.”
Getting out of the house and active is part of the reason many parents entered their children into the triathlon, including Katie Keating, whose son Michael, 11, and daughter Gracie, 10, competed on Saturday.
“We like staying active, but we also like to encourage and expose them to all sorts of athletics so that when they’re older, they carry it on. There are other kids triathlons, but this is the closest to us and this one’s nice because it’s not real competitive. The kids just do it to do it, so I don’t think they’re as intimidated by it, Keating said.
Michael Keating, who zoomed his way to a third-place finish in the triathlon, said he enjoyed his experience at the marina.
“It was just fun doing it and biking around the water,” Michael said. “I don’t know what my favorite part is. It’s all just really fun.”
During the first leg of the race, participants swam or walked in the water over a distance of 75 yards. Once stepping out of the water, racers then jumped on their bikes for a 1.8-mile ride around the marina. Coming to the end of the cycling course, kids dropped their bikes and began the final portion of the triathlon, running a 0.2-mile lap to the finish line. Upon reaching the end of their grueling test, kids from first to last received a participatory medal, as well as a race bag and a T-shirt.
While the older kids were first to finish the triathlon, many parents accompanied the younger children, which may have proved a more daunting task for the adults than the kids.
“I’m more tired than they are,” said Phil Esquibel, who ran with his 7-year-old daughters Sophia and Isabelle. “They could probably go again right now. I had to keep giving them checkpoints and telling them ‘Okay, run to that spot and wait,’ or else they would have ran the whole way.”