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Wednesday, August 10, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesKids Triathlon Will Combine Fun with Olympic Flair

Kids Triathlon Will Combine Fun with Olympic Flair

Local Rotarians have pooled together to put on the first ever Kid’s Triathlon on St. Thomas, following the success of similar events on St. Croix. The St. Thomas event will be held Saturday at Magens Bay Beach.

From simply having fun to possibly getting a jumpstart on Olympic training, the event promises to offer something for everyone, with swimming, biking and running competitions for five to 15 year-olds. The event is being put on by the Rotary Club of St. Thomas Sunrise, in collaboration with other district clubs that have been working on bringing in participants from their adopted schools.

"Swimming, biking and running are much more of a sport than some of the other things these kids are out there doing, and they don’t cost anything," said Shaun A. Pennington, who brought the idea to her Sunrise Rotary Club. "So it’s an opportunity for kids to get really interested, to get the excitement of the competition involved in doing these sports, and to set them on the right track to becoming athletes, or just using exercise as a part of their life."

St. Thomas Association of Roadrunners President Therese Hodge is coordinating the run, while Walter Bostwick will lead off the bikers. St. Thomas Swimming Association President Joey Hamilton – whose organization will receive all proceeds generated by the triathlon – will be on hand to coordinate the swimming.

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Pennington said the club has seen enthusiasm from kids who want to power through all three events. With the St. Thomas triathlon just starting up, there has been little training time, but the courses are short.

Five to seven year olds will compete in a 50-meter swim, half-mile bike and a quarter-mile run, while the course for the eight to 11 year olds includes a 100-meter swim, one-mile bike and half-mile run. The last division, 12 to 15 year olds, will do a 100-meter swim, one-mile bike and a half -mile run.

"The kids can either do an individual or relay, but what we’re finding is most of them want to do the whole thing," Pennington said.

Joining Pennington as co-race director this year is V.I. Triathlon Federation President Scott Fricks, who will also scout for Olympic talent. Fricks said the federation is just wrapping up its Kids Triathlon season on St. Croix and has found some prospects. He hopes the competition bears similar fruit on St. Thomas.

"Basically, the purpose of the federation is to identify and develop talented youth and to put them on the Olympic path," Fricks said. "We just keep monitoring these kids and giving them opportunities to train and race."

Once a prospect has been identified, Fricks said the next step is making sure the student is going to be a dedicated athlete.

"We get them into local competitions if they show promise, then we get them into international competitions," he said. "And if they do well there, then we get them into elite level training and racing, and from there work on getting them accepted into the Olympics."

While many of the athletes are developed young, Fricks said the federation has had prospects "that have popped into elite level training and racing" into their 30’s.

"So, we’re not limited," he said. "We look for anyone that is a talented athlete."

And with the event looming, Rotary Sunrise is also looking for more volunteers. Th club hopes at least 100 students sign up, and parents and community members are encouraged to show their support by lending a hand, said Sunrise Rotarian Susan MacFarland-Helton.

MacFarland-Helton said students can register at their schools, at Caribbean Surf Co. locations, with the V.I. Swimming Association, or on the day of the event, starting at 7 a.m. The first event, the swim, will follow at 8 a.m. Saturday. Cost is $5 per participant.

Awards will go to the top three finishers in individual and relays based upon combined time for all three legs. A special award will go to the school with the most participants.

The event has been sponsored by Diamonds International, Merchants Commercial Bank, V.I. Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine and the Source.

Help has been provided by Sea Trans and Marjorie Smith, who brought Triathlon Federation loaner bikes from St. Croix to St. Thomas and will take them back after Saturday’s event.

“That was key,” Pennington said, as some of the children who really wanted to compete didn’t have their own bikes. “Marjorie never hesitated when I asked her if she could transport the bicycles.”

Thanks to Billy D, there will be a surprise for the first 100 contestants.

Fricks and Roger Hatfield from the Triathlon Federation and Jude Woodcock from the Love City Triathlon have all agreed to travel to St. Thomas to help with the inaugural event.

“We could not have done this without them,” Pennington said, adding, "we expect to have 50 volunteers from Rotary and the morning bikers. We wanted one volunteer for every two kids.”

Pennington said the other key person in the logistics is Andy Health of All Construction who, along with Bostwick, picked up the bikes from the ferry with his flatbed truck and is storing the bikes for the week.

To volunteer, contact MacFarland-Helton at 776-1400. Residents can also contact Pennington 777-8144 for more information or visit www.sunrisekidstri.com.

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