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Second Annual Strong Kids Triathlon Was More Than an Event

A personal note from Ronald Wimer, following the second annual Strong Kids Triathlon, held Sunday, Sept. 18 at Staples High School in support of the Family Y’s Strong Kids Campaign.

Ron is co-chair of the ongoing charitable fundraising effort, which helps individuals and families participate in Y programs, such as child care, youth sports, swim lessons, summer camp and more, ensuring that everyone — regardless of age, income or physical ability — has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive:

Jacob West and John McNab race toward the finish line of the 2011 Strong Kids Triathlon. Photos courtesy of Andy McNab.

This year our Family Y’s Strong Kids Triathlon became part of our community. We had kids from Westport, Weston and neighboring towns. We had scores of kids come back again.

After one heat, I heard a girl say to her friend, “Last year I slid down the hill. This year I ran. I was faster.” She seemed to relish her improved finish time as she talked about coming back next year and being even faster.

I laid out the bike route – which goes around both Staples High School and Bedford Middle School – and Sunday morning I worried that it might be too challenging for some of the youngest participants, some of whom looked like they had just started cycling. (A 1.25-mile ride can be a very long distance when you’re biking with training wheels.) But I forgot about the grit and determination of Westport six-year-olds. These kids were determined to finish – even in they weren’t sure how to brake on the downhill. True, we had a few falls and more than a couple of skinned elbows, but almost all the 6- to 9-year-olds who started the bike race finished.

Our young triathletes cycled around Staples and Bedford schools along a challenging route.

Of course, none of the kids in the 10+ age group fell. As I watched the older kids set up their bikes and lay out their shoes by the pool, I thought I was watching a group of serious athletes prepare for an Ironman race. I was partially right: the kids were serious. They were there to compete; they were there to medal. And they all seemed to be with a buddy who they wanted to beat. (Click here for the results.)

Later, after the last rider rode, and the medals were awarded on the Staples track, I cleaned up the bike course. While I was ripping tape arrows off the pavement, I saw dozens of excited and proud children (and their parents), many of whom were planning to go out to lunch to celebrate a young athlete’s success. One Australian dad thanked me for “shepherding” his daughter around the bike route after she had fallen and wanted to quit. She was very proud that she finished.

Moments like these remind me of why we are all at the Y.

Charlie West exults after receiving his trophy for winning the 10-year-old age group from Rob Hauck of TD Bank, the triathlon's lead sponsor.

Our young triathletes started the competition with a 150-meter swim -- six laps -- in Staples' swimming pool.