A September of Family Races Part 3: Shark Boy's Second Duathlon

We closed off our September of Family Races with the Family Fun Fit Beaches Best KOS Duathlon for Shark Boy (with me acting as coach and chaperone).  We had a lot of fun doing this event last year, and for days afterwards, he was asking when he could do a ‘triaflon’ again (still working on swimming, and apparently the distinction between ‘tri-’ and ‘du-’).  The big step up this year was that he was riding a real bike rather than a glider; in fact, someone saw him riding his bike with skill that they referred to as ‘Amazing’ which happens to be the adjective used to describe Spider-Man, who adorns both his bike and helmet.

The race was to start at 8:30 AM.  Two bits of bad news this year were that 1.) it was pouring rain on Saturday and 2.) the Gardiner Expressway was closed.  The former meant getting wet, and the latter meant spending a lot of time in traffic, even that early in the morning.  We arrived with enough time to spare for race kit pickup, pinning the bib onto the jacket, and setting up the bike in the transition area as well as strap on the timing chip.  The event is sanctioned by Triathlon Canada, and though it’s a fun/kids event, it’s nice to see that they want the rules of transition (i.e. no riding your bike in transition area, helmets on before taking the bike) enforced, pay attention to safety (more in a bit), and start on time.  

The 3-5 age group was split into two heats/waves to avoid crowding on the trail and the first heat started at 8:30 sharp.  Spectators were ushered off the racecourse and  immediate vicinity well before the start, but athletes and their guardians were able to hang out near the starting line; Shark Boy and I took turns holding an umbrella, so I got a little more wet than I strictly needed to.  They didn't start the second wave until the bike course was completely clear - while this meant waiting in the rain (and who likes that?) I have to appreciate them making safety the highest priority.

Quick side note: before we got to race I saw the first athlete to cross the finish line and it was a little girl (in fact the overall fastest in kids aged 3-5). I don't know when the sexist notions about getting 'chicked' start, but it's clearly more of an adult-invented concept. For the kids, fastest is fastest, and parents with daughters should take note - get your girls to shoot for the moon in sports.

We got into position in the starting line, a little behind the very first row.  While I did want Shark Boy to run fast, I know I have a little trouble coaxing him to really let loose when the distractions of other kids racing are around, plus I didn't want him to get winded too soon like during the 5 Peaks race. I ran ahead of him and coaxed him to follow me, and I think he did a great job of pacing himself and staying pretty focused. The first run leg was 50 meters, and we completed the loop, rounded the corner into transition and found the bike. Before the race I tried to show him where we had parked it, looking from the angle of the transition area entrance. He almost got on the bike right away, but not only did I catch him as he was throwing his leg over the bike, but so did a volunteer! We jogged the bike toward the mount line, but he still got on a few feet too early. Oh well.

Once he started pedalling, I was very glad I wore running shoes and track pants, because I needed to run full-tilt to keep up with him. He blazed by every kid we saw for the first half of the course which felt good in two ways: one, I was proud of him, two, it was nice seeing the other side of the coin on the bike course - normally I'm the one getting passed.

At the top of the biggest downhill on the course (not much of a hill, but enough for kids to pick up a lot of speed) I could see a little girl had fallen near the bottom which also was a turn to the left. Shark Boy judiciously applied the brake and handled the bike beautifully to avoid any further accident. Unfortunately, this put him neck-and-neck with another girl and for a few seconds there, I feared a Ben-Hur chariot race type scenario, with the two kids potentially side-swiping each other. I coaxed a little more 'oomph' from him on the pedals, and we pulled ahead. There was an uphill climb just before transition and I'm proud to say he went up it without getting off the bike... he just pushed those pedals and up he went!

He dismounted and jogged his bike back to its spot. I asked him if he wanted to keep the helmet on.
"UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM..." The clock was still ticking so I took it off and we started the run. He'd been looking forward to hearing cheers (especially 'WOOO') all morning, so I'm betting this was his favourite part. The final leg was a loop of 100 m. I kept him motivated not only by cheering but reminding him that snacks awaited. I tried to run far enough ahead to snap a picture of him crossing the finish line, but I wasn't fast enough. Luckily my wife was able to grab the shots you see with her phone - as for the blurriness, Blame It On the Rain.

Normally I wouldn't let my kids drink Gatorade, but I was so proud I had to make an exception. We all snacked on cookies and crackers (some from the race, some that we had packed) and decided to head home - the rain wasn't making us any more comfortable. We were pretty sure that Shark Boy wouldn't get an award (make the top 3 podium), so we were happy getting the finisher's medal, certificate and most importantly to him, lollipop (in the race kit). When we looked up the results online, we found he got 8th in kids 3-5 (5th place Boys).

I'm super proud of my eldest son, and for next year, I'm hoping we can get him in a full Triathlon (with swimming) while the Lightning Kid tackles this event or one like it if he can manage a glider bike by then.

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