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Kids triathlon back on track

By June 22, 2022No Comments
This young triathlete was on the final leg of his swim, bike and run race at the ATB Financial Kids of Steel Triathlon at Bud Miller All Seasons Park last Friday. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

 

Swim, cycle, run and repeat year after year. 

The 7th annual ATB Financial Kid of Steel Triathlon got underway after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, with 675 kids competing at Bud Miller All Seasons Park on June 17.

Students from the Lloydminster Catholic and public school divisions vied for individual and team medals in different distances under the direction of race director, Anthony Bender.

“It’s great. Watching those kids that are so excited about participating in an event and competing and having some fun. This is what this is all about,” said Bender.

He noted the turnout was encouraging considering more than 800 athletes took part in the last pre-COVID event. 

“We’ve got to get it back on people’s calendars again. It’s so great to see people supporting it. It’s a great event for kids,” he said.

He walked the youngest group of triathletes through their paces outside the Bioclean Aquatic Centre, carefully explaining what to do at each stage in ‘kid speak’.

“When you get across the finish line you are going to get a medal,” he said to the kids softly.

“When you get across the finish line there is going to be pizza. There are also going to be subs and chocolate milk—all good stuff for you, and if you see people in an orange shirt, make sure you say thank you. That’s what makes this possible.” 

Helping out is a no-brainer for Tracy Matthews, who coordinates an army of volunteers every year.

“I love bringing the community together and watching the kids be excited about something and showing them they can be successful,” said Matthews. 

“It’s a big job, but I have the same people, for the most part, year after year, and they all know what to do. Everyone wants to help at an event like this.”

Ditto for Jim Taylor, owner of Grindin Gears Bikes ‘N Boards, who was on-site again pre-checking kids’ bikes to ensure they were functional and safe.

“It’s nice to see this many kids out willing to participate,” said Taylor.

“There’s over 650 kids involved. The organizers that continue to put this on ask me to come back every year; it’s something you can’t say no to.”

Bender also tipped his hat to the City of Lloydminster, support sponsors and title sponsor ATB Financial for keeping the event going all these years.

Lloydminster ATB branch manager, Brad Asseltine, was all smiles ready to declare all systems go.

“The turnout is fabulous, the rain broke and the sun came out for us today, so that’s wonderful,” he said just prior to the official start.  

“It’s been a wet week and I am really happy today to see everyone back here after a couple of years layoff.”

Asseltine says his game plan was to “be hanging out at the finish line cheering on the participants as they come across the final sprint.”

Bender says the event is well-timed to promote summer bike and water safety as the school year comes to an end.

“There’s lots of methods to the madness of putting this event together for the kids,” he said, including competition.

“The idea is they will participate as a team and eventually they’ll get confident enough to do it on their own, so that’s the idea behind it.”

One of the most confident teams was the Grade 4 trio of Charles, who was swimming for the first time, with his cycling buddy Gabriel and Lincoln, a runner.

When asked if they were going to kick butt, Lincoln quipped, “Oh heck yes, that’s not even a question.”

Charle’s mom, Jessica Lawrence, arrived in cheerleader mode and said she is proud of her son.

“He’s been doing it for a couple of years now, always in a team. I think knowing how to work with your teammates is very important for these kids, especially at a young age,” said Lawrence.

While young Franklin, a Grade 2 triathlete at Winston Churchill, was amped to run on a team, his mom, Christy Franklin, declared she was there to “feed him good snacks and cheer him on.”