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HomeNewsArchivesSecond Annual Rotary Sunrise Kids Triathlon

Second Annual Rotary Sunrise Kids Triathlon

Preparing for the Second Annual Rotary Sunrise Kids Triathlon isn’t necessarily about winning, but learning and doing your best, said Ulla F. Muller Elementary physical education teacher Gayle Dellar as she trained with about 10 students at Magens Bay the Saturday before the triathlon.

Groups of kids practiced for weeks before the triathlon so that they were prepared for all of the obstacles they may face while swimming, running, and bicycling.

“A lot of students think they can swim, but there’s a technique with breathing,” said Vincent Henley, health teacher and coach at Gladys A. Abraham Elementary.

Henley trains about 20 children each week in the pool at his elementary school. He also prepared students to transition from sport to sport, put on their shoes quickly, observe bike safety, use hand signals, and much more.

The Kids Triathlon has a few new rules this year. Athletes will no longer be allowed to put their feet down while in the water, but they will be provided with life vests for floating and will not be disqualified if they should stand, said race director Jude Woodcock.

Children will also only compete within their gender this year.

“I was really happy that they decided to split sexes up to make it fairer. I’m anxious to see the feedback we get for next year,” said Woodcock.

Last year, several children jumped onto their bikes without stopping to put on proper shoes or a helmet. This year, children must wear sneakers or closed-toe shoes and a fastened helmet.

“The transition is what takes kids a long time. They went into the water with bare feet and then jumped on bikes,” said Dellar.

There was already Tri activity at Magens on Thursday afternoon. Neil Maxwell of Mad Max signs surveyed the race course for signage spots with transition specialist Walter Bostwick while 6-year-old Matthew Hart tried out his bicycling skills on the same course he will face Saturday morning. His mother, Denise Miller, said her son missed the race last year, but she was excited to see him participating now.

"We took his training wheels off when he turned six," she said, "and I think he’s doing pretty well."

Matthew is a member of the St. Thomas Swimming Association and his mom is on the board. Although Matthew is a pretty good swimmer, she said he will still take advantage his life preserver at the competition.

Children will participate in three age groups, 5-8, 9-11 and 12-15 in a team or as an individual. Henley noted that he was happy to have a relay because it allows children to participate even if they haven’t mastered each sport or don’t have the necessary equipment.

“Some students may not have a bike, but they want to take part. If they want to take part, by having a relay you’re not singling out a child,” said Henley.

Woodcock said organizers are expecting about 200 athletes, but she is concerned parents will not bring their children if it rains. However, she noted that the recent Ironman event in St. Croix persisted despite the rain.

Organizer Susan MacFarland-Helton noted, "Volunteers told us last year the event was one of the best days of their lives."

The triathlon begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, at Magens Bay. Registration starts at 7 a.m. and is $5 per athlete. Forms can be found at public and private schools. Children should bring their own bicycles to the event.

The signature sponsor for this year’s triathlon is Scotiabank. Other sponsors include Virgin Islands Orthopedics, Merchants Bank, and the V.I. Source who sponsored last year, and new sponsors Glacial Energy and Marriott Frenchman’s Reef; however, as all organizers and trainers noted, parents are the biggest supporters.

“If it weren’t for parents, the kids would not be there,” said Woodcock. “And the teachers at schools have really got the kids fired up. There’s a lot of hype and it’s very fun. I appreciate how positive the response to the sport has been.”

Those who are looking for a sponsorship opportunity, who wish to volunteer, or have questions, please contact Shaun Pennington at 777-8144 or shaunpennington@earthlink.net or Susan MacFarland Helton at 776-1400 or smacfarlandhelton@gmail.com.

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