Lots of thirsty athletes and volunteers at the triathlon finishing line

Lots of thirsty athletes and volunteers at the triathlon finishing line

Living Well – Kids’ Triathlon was an awesome experience

Wayne Little talks about organizing Ashcroft's first Kids' Triathlon, which was held in conjunction with the Wellness Festival.

A few months ago Vicky approached me and asked if we were interested in doing an event for the Wellness Festival to be held in July. I told her I wasn’t interested in doing an adult event, but something for the kids would be great.

We brainstormed for a bit and came up with an event that would be fairly easy for the kids to complete with no hills. I also wanted it to be safe for the kids.

So the plan was to swim in the pool, bike downtown, then run up and down Railway Ave. as it would be closed. The Wellness Festival committee liked the idea. We met with council and they liked the idea.  So I went to work getting insurance, and some sponsors to help pay for the event.

With so many families in Ashcroft on a limited budget, and some families having many children, I wanted the event to be free for everyone to register. We were going to need more money, so I put out a message to some of my friends, and asked around town. The response was overwhelming. All of a sudden, we were able to get medals and shirts, just like a real triathlon.

With an adult triathlon, you tell the people to go this way or that way for so many kilometres and turn around at the sign, and most would easily be able to handle that. With most children, you cannot do that, and you wouldn’t want to do that. So, many volunteers were needed, that meant the parents.  Someone at each corner, at all the crosswalks, basically adults covering the whole course to keep the kids going in the right direction and if an accident happened, a parent would be there right away to help out.

More volunteers were needed, lap counters, people in transition, and people at the run course turn arounds. With different age groups, they all had to do different distances. Utilizing the eager parents, we were able to have all the volunteers we needed.

After six weeks of work, which really seemed like only days, the day of the race arrived. Starting with the oldest kids first as they had to swim and run the farthest with a 500m swim and a 4km run, the race was off. After only 30 minutes, we had put all 28 kids through the pool from the 15 year old, right down to the 3 year old girl swimming a monumental 25m all the way across the pool from the deep end to the shallow end.

Biking downtown in a flurry, then running the run course through the crowds downtown cheering them on across the finish line was amazing. Kids laughing and smiling, it was awesome. Everyone who crossed the finish line received their very own medal to proudly wear. They also received a shirt to show off until next year when they sign up again. I’ve never organized and event for kids and I know it wasn’t perfect, but I was so glad there was no one seriously hurt.

Top athletes in their age group to mention are Steve Dennis, Colby Coburn and Haley Schroeder, Sam Adamson and Ali Aie, Yoshi Matthews and Ashly Schroeder, Tyler Schroeder and Vraja Benner, and last but not least Toshi Karas and the cutest little 3 year old Kaeli Mae. Can you imaging doing a triathlon at 3 years old?

It’s amazing how a small community can come together and make something like the Wellness Festival happen. All it takes is a little bit of work on your own time to make everyone have such a great time. There were lots of people involved in making this triathlon happen, and I can’t name them all, but next time you see Vicky or Alf Trill, Tracy Kubik, Juanita Little, Eddie Aie, Kristine Woodworth, Deanna Horsting, and/or Nicole Arnott, tell them “thank you”.

I would like to also like to thank the financial supporters of the event, which include: Village of Ashcroft, Interior Savings, United Way, Safety Mart, Kal Tire, IKO (IG plant), the Legion, Kamloops Triathlon Club, Desert Hills Tri Club,  Teck (HVC), United Steel Workers, and Quality Glass.

Will there be a Wellness Awaits you Festival Kids triathlon next year? Definitely

Wayne Little

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