Kids triathlon jumpstarts summer

Published 10:00 am Monday, June 7, 2010

There were no losers at the second annual Land Between the Lake Kids Triathlon on Saturday and all of Albert Lea’s newest triathletes crossed the finish line with no lack of support.

Parents, teachers and friends filled the parking lot of the Albert Lea City Pool to watch kids aged 7-14 swim, bike and run their way to gold medals, door prizes and a sense of accomplishment.

In its second year, the Kids Triathlon grew by 29 participants, totaling 104 athletes, bringing more fans, encouragement and education to Albert Lea families.

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“It makes kids aware of health and fitness,” co-coordinator Dennis Dieser said. “It also lets the parents see that their kids can really do a lot of good things.”

The idea began in 2009 after Dieser and Sibley Elementary Principal Ross Williams toured local schools, talking to fourth graders about health, fitness and wellness as part of the Fit Forever program. Both men, along with Lynn Lynn Scheevel, athletic trainer at Albert Lea High School, decided to organize a kids triathlon and the concept stuck.

“We were only going to do it once as part of the Fit Forever program,” Dieser said. “People wanted it again and it grew this year.”

The increase in participants not only brought more excitement to the event but taught more kids that they can be fit and have fun. Some parents held signs with their child’s name on it, most snapped pictures as the runners slowed down to smile, passing by.

“They are going to talk to their friends and let them know how fun it was,” Dieser said. “To see the excitement of all the kids, I think it will spread through the community.”

The element of competition was was removed from the triathlon to ensure that each athlete was able to have fun. Each child recieved a medal, a T-shirt and a roar of cheers as they rounded the last corner of the race.

“We want it to be fun and for themselves,” Dieser said. “When you’re doing racing like this it’s all about yourself so there’s a sense of accomplishment for finishing the race.”

Each age group competed with different distances during the race. 7-8 year old children swam two widths of the pool, bike one mile and ran a quarter mile. The 13-14 year olds swam three lengths, biked four miles and ran one mile.

The third annual kids triathlon will happen next summer but Dieser hopes the participants continue to be active until then.

“Now they can go out and ride a bike, run or walk,” he said. “ It makes them more aware of outdoor things in the summer.”