The C3 Kinetico Kids of Steel Triathlon took place on Sunday, May 24th, and in a refreshing change from so many endurance events, it didn't start first thing in the morning, leaving us time to get organized (or even get a couple of hours on the bike trainer before breakfast, in my case). Thanks to steady stream of emails from Barrie Shepley, we knew exactly when Shark Boy’s race would start, and how much time we should leave ourselves for race kit pick-up and transition set-up.
We pulled into the parking lot of Mayfield Secondary School which is right on the border of Brampton and Caledon and unloaded. There was a nice volunteer who offered to give us a ride to the race site in his golf cart. It really wasn't far, but the kids were thrilled to take a ride, and it made getting the bike there easier, since I didn't want Shark Boy riding in the parking lot and walking a bike is always tedious.
We arrived at the main race site to see festivities in full swing. Shark Boy’s favourite song ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay (also a fave of my wife and I) was playing, and the Bouncy Castle/Wall/Slide drew the boys attention right away.
First things first though, we found the transition area and got his bike and helmet in the proper place. I was already in a swimsuit, anticipating that I’d be getting in the water with Shark Boy. I let him keep his shoes on for safety, and brought them to transition a few minutes before the race start, and we opted to go sockless for the sake of speed. I had a last minute dilemma about putting him in the 6-7 age category; he’s 5 now, but triathlon rules (and body marking) goes by what age you’ll be at the end of the calendar year. I knew he could handle it physically, but I worried a little about putting him in a higher pressure situation, and that race started a whole hour later. The fact was that we had registered for the 3-5 year-old race, which is non-timed, so that’s where we stayed.
Then, with some time to spare before opening ceremonies and the race start, off we went to the inflatable slide. Shark Boy knew what to do, and so did the Lightning Kid, except the whole, ‘wait your turn’ thing. What nobody expected him to do, is climb the thing unassisted! I think he made a few sets of teeth sweat, but he always made it to the top where a volunteer assisted kids in getting over making sure they all stayed safe and didn't land on one another.
Either the heat or pre-race nerves started to get to Shark Boy, because he couldn’t wait to get into the pool, and was not happy with waiting for any process or procedure that might keep a race like this organized and free of chaos. He was even less enthused about sitting through speeches for the opening ceremonies, but luckily, his mood improved once we entered the rec complex - the swim portion took place in an indoor pool.
Each wave had only a few athletes, and it was generally one or two athletes (plus their parent/guardian) per lane, so everything was comfortable. They had us inch up to an imaginary line where a lifeguard chair was, and wait for the start. Hilariously, the kids’ nervousness and uncertainty seemed to spread to the parents, as several people started to ask if there would be a signal to start; as if there might not be and we could just go whenever! That signal came, and off we went.
Thanks to a waterproof case for my phone, I got a few snaps in the pool as he was swimming. As far as I could tell, he was the only one swimming without a life preserver (I had to turn down several offers). I think we were first or second to the end of the pool, and some volunteers helped him out while I hoisted myself onto the deck.
We headed outside, and although I had reminded him of where his bike was in the transition area, he still hesitated and had trouble finding it. Still, once he did, we got shoes on and helmet (of course) before he picked up his bike and we headed to the mounting area, but not before another wrong turn (this time it was my fault).
I've experienced how fast Shark Boy is on the bike so I made sure I sprinted ahead. I tried to get pictures, but wet fingers don’t work well on touch screens, so I missed out and figured there would be some official race photos (more on that in a bit). The bike course was very short, once around the parking lot, and the volunteers took our bike at the dismount point.
I later heard from my wife, who was struggling (along with the Lightning Kid) to keep up with the race progression visually, that Shark Boy's name kept being announced over the speakers, as he busted through each leg of the triathlon; out of the water, out of the pool, out of transition 1, into transition 2, across the finish line.
He really got the idea of going as fast as possible, because he didn't bother to take off his helmet, much to the amusement of the race announcer. I asked, and he said he was OK running with it on. We did a loop around the grass, and through the finish gate. First place for Shark Boy!
He wasn't interested in bananas or oranges (he’s a bit of a picky eater), so we came round and found my wife and the Lightning Kid who hadn't been able to see much after the swim because it went by so fast!
The finisher’s picture we took makes it look like triathlon is something we force him into against his will, but I promise you he’s all smiles during the race; he just doesn't like having his picture taken and it didn't help that the race took place during the lunch hour.
I wish we had more pictures to show, and I acknowledge that this is a nit-pick, but the race photographers seemed to manage to get several shots of almost every kid (especially our nearest neighbours in the race), but none of the one who completed the race without physical aid from his parent, nor a life preserver, nor training wheels. And again, he came in first place. I’d feel bad for dwelling on the win, but really, how often do you get first place in life (assuming you aren't Chrissie Wellington)? We even noticed a drone taking either aerial photos or video, but I don’t know when or where they’ll be available.
We celebrated the win with a free toy that Shark Boy picked out of a box (a giant bubble wand), balloons, and hot dogs. The C3 Kinetico Kids of Steel Triathlon is a welcoming, inclusive event, because every one asked if the Lightning Kid was racing this year, or if he would next year (it'll be soon, with a little improvement on the bike). When we floated the idea of him being the first athlete with Down syndrome in the race next year, we found out there was a girl with Down syndrome doing this year's race. Like I said, being the first is a rare opportunity in this world!