Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Tiniest Triathletes

Today was the Kids In Training Youth Triathlon put on annually by TriAdventure, for kids ages 4-10, and I was very excited to be volunteering again. It's no small feat to cater to the tiny crowd, to keep them going in the right direction safely and happily. It takes quite a bit of planning, plenty of volunteers, and an experienced race director and staff.

Let me back up to yesterday when work at the venue began. I was part of the four woman set-up crew that put into place lot of plastic posts, orange fencing, string, flags, and cones to ensure the tiny triathletes would stay on track.

Following a pool swim of 25y, 50y, or 100y (determined by age), they would ride 1, 2, or 3 laps (again, by age) of a bike course that followed the perimeter of several linked parking lots, then run 1, 2, or 3 laps of a run course around a recreation field.

You can't just put four cones out and say "run around those." It has to be pretty fool-proof.

Lest you think all I can do is type on a keyboard, I'll have you know, my contributions to the infrastructure included:

  • Hammering in all the posts with a rubber mallet
  • Putting up orange fencing around the perimeter of transition
  • Painting lines that would delineate each transition area 
  • Painting directional signs in transition

I'll admit though, my extensive keyboarding didn't adequately prepare me for my many swings of the rubber mallet:

But it mattered not, it was so much fun and the venue was taking shape!

I returned early race morning and pre-race setup was underway - the finish arch, tents, signs, road blocks, and cones - LOTS of cones. Field marking chalk was used to lay a route through the parking lots.

The athletes and bikes of various sizes began to filter in and since a rack isn't practical, each athlete had an area:

Next, my friend Chitra and I attended to body marking arms with race numbers and calves with their age (to be "official"). It just so happened that most of the race numbers were four digits, which I found funny on those little arms! As we marked each child, we'd try for a little conversation. One little boy turned out to be only 3 years old but you could just tell he'd be fine. Indeed, with older siblings in the event, he handled it like a pro!

None of the kids seemed particularly worried.

At 8 am it was go time, with kids split into age groups on the pool deck, with parents on the other side of the pool. The 7-8's (below) group was by far the largest.

I got to be one of the shadows, a person who acts as a buddy to a particular child, helping just enough but not too much. Just before the swim, I was matched with a young triathlete-to-be.

She swam. (photo credit: Chitra Ranganathan)

She biked.

She ran. (We also did a little chatting.)

This little girl grinned the whole way through the swim, toughed it out on the ups and downs of the bike course with training wheels, and then flew on the run with a strong kick to the finish! She's got grit for sure!

As the finish line festivities wound down, we disassembled the transition area, bike and run course. As I worked, I thought about the spirits of the children. I thought of the courage of the young first-timers venturing into the unknown. And I thought about the parents who had given their children this wonderful opportunity! What a confidence builder! 

And in other news, I ran/raced the Hell Climb 10K Saturday morning. It ascends 2000'+ over 6.2 miles with no downhills. So now I'm not sure if I'm sore from the race, or sore from walking around bent over with paint can after paint can, lol. 

It was an awesome weekend!!