You’re never too young to be a triathlete. That was the message at the 2011 Tri-ing for Children Kid’s Triathlon on July 23, when children as young as 3 – not far removed from toddlerhood – swam, biked, and ran a beautiful triathlon course in Southern Kettle Moraine State Park in Wisconsin.
The next day, 422 adult triathletes joined in the fun, competing as individuals or teams on sprint and Olympic-distance triathlon courses.
“The race began six years ago in Menominee Park,” said Ryan Griessmeyer, Race Director and owner of Race Day Events, LLC. “There was a one-year hiatus and the RDE took it over and moved it to Ottawa Lake,” said Griessmeyer.
The spring-fed lake provided a beautiful venue for the event, and the swim route for the youngest athletes featured water levels deep enough to accommodate swim strokes but shallow enough for the kids to touch the bottom of the lake if needed. “Because of the lake swim, we wanted to make sure the kids were kept very safe,” said Greissmeyer. “Allowing parents in the water with them helped. We also have a very experienced open water safety team.” Greissmeyer and the Race Day Events staff chose the location based on its accessibility to both Madison and Milwaukee, as well as the close proximity of excellent roads for the bike course. Another unique aspect? “The support of the local DNR, Police, Fire and EMS,” said Greissmeyer.
Support from volunteers was key as well. Highly experienced triathlete Brenda Knighton-Slatter of Janesville, WI decided to support the kids’ race through a gift of her time and energy. “I need to start giving back to the sport I enjoy so much, and the best way for me to do that is to volunteer when I am not racing,” said Knighton-Slatter. “It is very rewarding, especially when one of the racers you cheered for came back with a big grin on his face and showed me his medal with excitement!”
But the kids on the triathlon course weren’t the only winners. A portion of the race proceeds plus additional funds raised by the event were donated to American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “The Children’s Hospitals were very excited to receive our donation,” said Greissmeyer.
As it turns out, some healthy outdoor competition for kids and adults of all ages has the power to lift spirits…while also supporting the healing work of hospitals serving pediatric patients. Knighton-Slatter summed it up: “The smiles on the faces of the kids racing in the triathlon really made my day and made me think about my own races – and the importance of smiling and having a good time!”
To view more photos from the 2011 Tri-ing for Children’s Triathlon, see the Kids’ Race Gallery or the Adult Race Gallery on the Focal Flame online store. Prints, digitals, and more are available for purchase.