The third-annual TriGator for Kids triathlon invaded Elmira and the Woolwich Memorial Centre last Saturday. The event sees kids between the ages of 3 and 14 participating in age-appropriate swimming, biking and running events. The children’s triathlon is a fundraiser for Canadian Tire Jumpstart, a national charitable program that helps financially disadvantaged kids participate in organized sport and recreation by helping to cover registration, equipment and transportation costs.
Online registration opened back on Mar. 31 and within two hours all 550 spots had been filled.
“We sold out so quickly last year, in about four hours, that we decided to open more spots but we never thought we would sell those out in two hours,” said TriGator committee member Kim Fabian. “I’m not quite sure how we’re going to deal with that next year. We only have so much field space and a limited time in the pool.”
This year’s event saw 150 more participants over the 2011 event, when 325 kids from throughout Waterloo Region, Fergus, Guelph and other surrounding areas made their way through the race.
Every child received a race t-shirt and medal for their efforts, and they also collected pledges leading up the day. All of the money collected – along with the $24 entry fee – went back to the Jumpstart program.
The triathlon is designed to fit almost any fitness level and contains aspects that most children can enjoy, said Fabian.
“Some parents have kids who don’t play hockey or play on any team sport or just weren’t fitting in, and after they did something like triathlon it opens their eyes to something that they didn’t realize was there before. It is very much an individual sport and something that can become a lifelong sport for some kids.”
The length of the events varied depending on age, from a 25-metre swim, 300-metre bike and 100-metre run for the 3-5 year olds to a 150-metre swim, 7.5-km bike and a two-km run for the 12-14 year olds.
“Lots of kids like swimming and riding a bike, and they can run and it’s an easy sport for them to participate in.”
Fabian also stressed that although the event was timed with results posted online, the organizing committee had gone to great lengths to ensure that the atmosphere was non-competitive. There were no prizes for first place, and results were posted alphabetically – not by rank.
“The way we run the race not everyone starts at the exact same time and the children don’t really have any idea whether they are in first, second or third place and so they all feel like winners when they cross the finish line.”
She also said that Elmira was the perfect place to hold the event because the WMC offers the swimming pool, running track and is surrounded by a quiet neighbourhood.
“We’re just trying to give these kids an experience at something new that they haven’t done before and feel good about themselves.”
The day could not have happened without the 200 volunteers that came out to support the young athletes, said Fabian.
“These people are so giving of their time and made sure that the event was safe for everyone participating.”
The event collected more than $28,000 for the Jumpstart program.