Sunday was a picture perfect day for a triathlon. With a cutoff age of 12, my participation at the 4th Annual Mighty Kids Triathlon would be as the bike pacer and spectator. The event was hosted by the Vernon Hills Park District at the Lakeview Fitness Center and provides kids between 6 and 12 years old an opportunity to experience triathlon in a way that is fun but still challenging.
There were three different age groups; 6 and 7 year olds swam 25 yards, biked one mile and ran a 1/2 mile; 8 to 10 year olds swam 50 yards, biked two miles and ran a mile; 11 and 12 year olds added an extra 50 yards to the swim and biked and ran the same distances as the age group below. M&M Cyclery provided pre-race bike checks both at their shop and on-site. All registered athletes received a swag bag with a number of coupons and goodies from the event sponsors at packet pickup.
After a brief pre-race talk, the event started with the swim in the fitness center’s indoor pool just a short distance from transition. The first wave had a number of members from the Vernon Hills Turtles Swim Team and it wasn’t long after the start that the first kids were out and behind me on the bike path. Carter Smott, who would eventually win the 11/12 division, led the pack forcing me to pick up the pace to nearly 15 mph at times!
There were two separate bike to run transitions due to the varying distances of the age groups. Although myself and the other volunteers did their best to offer direction, there was still some confusion. After the lead bikers were out on the run I continued to navigate the course and encourage the young athletes. It was a privilege to see their smiling and determined faces throughout the course.
Thanks to a number of local sponsors, the post-race celebration was a great family oriented event. Each of the 121 participants to cross the finish line received a well deserved medal and standard recovery refreshments. There was even a 100 yard dash featuring mascots from local establishments.
However, the real reward was hearing many of these young athletes celebrating their accomplishments. Whether they were excited to have finished their first triathlon
or were already talking about tackling the next one, it was a clear reminder that as adults we need to continue to set a healthy example and encourage young people to strive to be the best they can in all of their endeavors.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how especially proud I was of my own Mighty Kids; one who decided to volunteer since she had aged out and the other who finished his race strong! We are already looking forward to next year.
If you have a young athlete interested in triathlon, this is an event to put on your calendar. Lacy Velasquez and her awesome staff really know how to put on an exceptional family friendly event!
The top male finishers in the 11-12 Year old age group were:
Carter Smott: 19:24
Nolan Heier: 20:45
Brandon Malveaux: 20:48
The top female finishers in the 11-12 Year old age group were:
Marin Shimkus: 20:22
Sage Manning: 20:43
Mia Starke: 23:33