Custom medals aren’t just for looks, they promote healthy fun too!
Used for rewards at triathlons such as the Ironman, they make one awesome goal to stay in shape for!
Move over Ironman, there’s a new kid in town. According to USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport, the number of “kid triathlons” for youths ages 18 and under has more than tripled in recent years, rising from approximately 300 youth-only triathlons in 2007 to 1,000 events in 2013. USA Triathlon now lists more than 60,000 youth member triathletes, some of whom are as young as seven years old.
Kid triathlons involve the same swim-bike-run combo as adult competitions, but there are a few key differences. Rather than serve as an exercise in grueling endurance, youth triathlons are designed more as a way to introduce kids to the basic elements of the sport and give young competitors a taste of the unique sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a triathlon. Youth-only triathlons also involve shorter distances, which may be further tailored for different age groupings, such as 7-8, 9-12, 13-15, and 16-18.
Know a kid interested in taking part in the sport? Here’s how to get involved — and make it fun!
Finding a local triathlon: Check your local family events or sports listings for upcoming youth triathlons. USATriathlon.org offers a national calendar of events. But, before registering, evaluate your child’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to swimming, biking, and running. Do you feel confident that she can swim the length required in the race, or that he can ride a bike for a long distance (one mile or more)? If so, the race will be a good fit. If not, keep looking.
The next step before registering is to make sure your child has had a recent physical exam and your child’s doctor is supportive of participation. Some youth triathlons require a doctor-signed health form before accepting registrations, so bring that along to have completed.
If this will be your child’s first competition, and if you are fortunate enough to have more than one upcoming triathlon in your area, you may want to choose the one with the shortest distances to start. It won’t be any less exciting! Race day for youth triathlons is typical of the setup up for an adult competition. Kids get T-shirts and swag bags, and at the end of the race are rewarded with snacks and medals.
Organize your own triathlon: No youth triathlons on the horizon in your community? No problem! A recent Baltimore Sun article highlighting the trend of youth triathlons describes how more and more parents are coming together to organize their own kid triathlons. If you decide to go this route, ask your local YMCA or local health clubs to help you get the word out to families, and possibly help you with facility planning, including pool rental for the swimming portion of the race.
To recognize triathlon winners, the Monterey Company offers customs sports medals and awards that triathletes.
Find a training team: For kids who are really serious about triathlon competitions, joining (or forming) a training team can be an invaluable way to stay motivated and find camaraderie in a sport that can otherwise feel like a solo pursuit.
Involve your child’s school: In Maryland, some public schools are now incorporating triathlon training as part of physical education classes. Could your child’s school do this, too? Talk to the physical education director and make a pitch for basic triathlon training.
Become a really great parent/coach: The video below shares some good tips, in general, on being a coach and sports parent by keeping a positive mental attitude with any sport.
The beauty of the triathlon is that it brings in skills most kids are already interested in mastering — and it’s a great way for young kids to stay fit and healthy.