I confess, this isn’t MY race report. However, our whole family enjoyed the First Coast Kids Triathlon so much I wanted to share the experience here.
Little man had been registered for this event last year, but bad weather caused a reschedule that we were unable to attend. He wasn’t all that disappointed about it, if I recall, and so I figured he was kind of done with the triathlon circuit.
This year, he came home with a flyer from school regarding a triathlon team, and he asked me if he could join. It was one afternoon a week for six to eight weeks, immediately after school. Obviously, I said yes. My friend was the coach and organized the workouts, with assistance from the Kids Triathlon group, even sending a guest speaker to address the children and answer their questions.
SATURDAY: Packet Pick Up & Bike Drop Off
The race organizers asked for everyone to pick up their packets and drop off their bikes in transition the day before the race. The venue was about 4o minutes away, so it wasn’t incredibly convenient, but we did as instructed.
The kids got their t-shirts, as well as colored swim caps, bibs, ankle chip and the numbered stickers for their bikes and helmets. They also got a set of wristbands. Children would be held at the finish line until a parent or guardian, wearing a matching wristband, claimed them.
Little man had his bike inspected and then walked into transition. Parents were 100% not welcome in transition. I respect this (even if I don’t like it – at his first ti, one parent WAS allowed in to assist): transition is crowded enough, and parents would be more of a hindrance than a help. The area was absolutely loaded with volunteers, so the kids just had to raise their hands and ask for assistance if necessary.
We also took advantage of a guided course tour. Little man was able to see where he would be doing each of the three disciplines, and how he would be getting in and out of transition, each time. Spectators were also informed of how they could watch their kids in action, and where the best places to view would be. There was lots of great information, presented in a very kid-centric way, and I think we all learned a lot.
After we were finished, we went our for a dinner of little man’s choice and called it an early night.
SUNDAY – Race Day
No one loves that o’dark thirty wake up call, but we wanted to make sure we were at the race site early enough to get good parking and get our tent and chairs set up.
Little man got marked and brought his bucket of gear into transition.
We had reviewed set up several times, and he had it down.
Part of triathlons is waiting, so we chilled out under our tent with our school group, waiting for his staggered start.
Finally, his number was called, and we escorted him to the staging area, and then we hustled to the pool so we could watch his swim.
Swim – 100 yards
First up? The young triathletes had to swim four lengths of the pool in a snake formation (down lane 1, under the lane line and up lane 2, etc). Kids started about every 10 seconds from opposite ends of the pool, and had plenty of room to pass. What I especially loved was that there were lifeguards on the pool deck, and volunteers/lifeguards in the water along the lane lines, just in case.
He did great through the swim, with a very consistent pace.
At the end of his four lengths, he popped out and started the trek to transition, while Mr PugRunner and I parted ways: I waited to see him ride out of transition while Mr PugRunner went to watch him mount up in transition.
Bike – 3 miles
We knew we had some time to wait for the duration of the bike course, so we returned to our tent for a drink. The bike always makes me nervous, just because I can’t see the whole thing, and cycling can be so unpredictable. The course went out on a main road, which was closed to traffic, and there were members of a local cycling club riding up and down the area to offer assistance and encouragement, so I knew everything would be fine, but it’s still nerve-wracking for me.
After a while of watching other kids and chatting, I crossed the staging field to the bike finish area. I wanted to cheer him on for his last trip through transition.
He came flying through the last few yards of the bike, slowing as instructed because of the hill and speed bump at the end. I was able to catch him one more time, wheeling his bike back to the rack and he was doing great.
Run – 1/2 mile
Mr PugRunner had grabbed a position closer to the start of the run, and was prepared to accompany little man if he needed the extra encouragement, so I went closer to the finish line. I guess when he passed his dad, he said he was ok on his own, and kicked it over the finish line.
We matched our wristbands and snagged the free post race ice cream.
He was pretty exhausted but incredibly proud of himself.
The last time he did a triathlon, little man told me he didn’t really love it, but First Coast Kids Triathlon was way different for him. I felt that it was way larger with so many kids involved, but also a lot more organized and somewhat more instructional, focused on learning how to be a safe and effective competitor. He said that he absolutely would do it again, and even told me he wants me to coach the team at his new school.
We loved being there to support him, even if he didn’t need very much help. I’m looking forward to next year, and hopefully, we’ll be able to form another group of his friends to take on the distances!
Does your whole family compete in sports?
Are their kid-specific triathlons in your neck of the woods?