After the 5 Peaks - Heart Lake event, we headed to Burlington for our race kit pickup. The best race kit pick-up systems in triathlon have you report to stations in order, with big numbers to identify each station. This is probably doubly important with dealing with kids. I was really impressed with how organized the TriKids event was. Finding the bib number, body marking, swag bags, it was all there, and there was even an orientation session.
|The orientation session|
They not only explained the overall flow of the day and the event (which is a little different for each age group) but also their dedication to the enjoyment of all the athletes, safety, and the 'complete not compete' philosophy. I thought it was a little long for kids (especially ones like Shark Boy) to sit through, but frankly, all the information was necessary and reassuring for the parents. They had at least 3 different orientation sessions that people could attend, so I don't think they can do any better.
We met some friends of ours who decided to sign their son (same age as Shark Boy) up for the triathlon too. The rewards of being physically active are for the self; it's basically a selfish act, but the values of it is something we want to pass on to our children. The reason we crow about it on blogs and social media, however, is in the hopes of inspiring someone else to start reaping the rewards, so I can't tell you how much it pleased me to see them there and on race day.
Speaking of race day, it was an early morning to make sure we made it in time for the cut-off to get our stuff set up in the transition area. And when I say 'our', I mean it. I had to put my own Zoots (which were ideal for slipping on to my wet feet) and a t-shirt that I could slip on after getting out of the pool. I was beside Shark Boy every step of the way, and he double-checked that fact every time we discussed the race right up till race day. He had shoes, socks (ankle socks were recommended for ease of putting on), small towel bike and helmet all there too.
|Shark Boy's is the Spider-Man bike WITHOUT training wheels.|
I actually bought a t-shirt there, since the veteran triathlete somehow managed to forget. It's hard to communicate the need for foresight to a four year-old, as I couldn't seem to get him to drink much water before we started. We had changed into swim stuff and awaited the command to gather for our wave.
We were in Wave 5, and after lining up outside the pool area, we were brought into a small yard outside the pool, and each athlete was called by name and bib number and given an ankle chip. Then we filed into the pool deck and lined up to swim one width of the pool. We actually took a false start, because I didn't quite realize how the timing would work, but I figured it out quickly enough and no harm done - we'll call it a warm-up.
A volunteer did a great job of calming everyone's nerves, and then we were off! It was a little disappointing seeing Shark Boy lag behind since he was one of the only kids swimming unaided, and the water was shallow enough that even he could touch bottom, but I'd rather have an event that can include as many kids as possible that some kind of ultra-tough weeding out race.
|We're way at the back.|
Once we hit the other side, it was walking only on the pool deck (though we walked briskly!) and out to transition. The ankle socks were still really hard to get on his feet, but it's taken this long to get him to wear socks with running shoes so I wasn't going undo all that work for a few seconds. And then we were off! Shark Boy knows from his duathlons (and my constant reminders) to walk his bike to the mount line. Once he mounted, I knew we were going to put on a show.
|If I lead him he not only goes faster, but keeps his eyes on where he's going.|
It was a 500m bike course (the swim was the 15m width of the pool, by the way), and Shark Boy was not only one of the fastest kids on the bike, but he safely navigated around a lot of little traffic jams that crept up. He really shines on the bike, that's all I can say.
This race had one unusual thing that I haven't (yet) seen in a triathlon; the second transition area was at another location. We dropped off the bike at the other end of a soccer field where it (and the helmet) were taken by a volunteer, and then we sprinted down the field 100m to the finish line chute (I first typed that as 'cute', which also applies).
We crossed the finish line smiling, and for a few seconds I got too pre-occupied with handing off his race chip and finding my wife and the Lightning Kid to properly hug and congratulate him, but I soon corrected that.
We try to do a daily gratitude exercise (usually at dinner, sometimes bedtime) where we talk about our favourite part of the day. His was this moment right here, not any part of the race. He's an athlete (a TRIathlete!), but best of all, he's got a great heart this one.
Our friends completed their race too (with both parents and grandparents) chaperoning various stages of the race. We had coffees and cookies and it was one of the finest summer days an active family could ask for. I heartily recommend the TriKids series, sign-up early though, because they sell out early... maybe we'll see you next year?