I was fortunate enough this past weekend to not only attend a kid's triathlon, but also be a part of the event by volunteering in the transition area. This was really one of the best spots because we got to see the kids as they charged in from the water and then dodge off for their run after coming in from their bike ride. The first group (ages 11-15) were lead by a young gentleman who was leagues ahead of his comrades. He had the intensity of a seasoned triathlete and only broke his stride to unrack his bike. We soon saw the masses of kids coming in from the water, some looking a little more bewildered then others. They all made their way to their respective transition areas and geared up for the bike ride. It didn't take long before the leader was back from his cycle portion and onto the foot race. These kids were SERIOUSLY impressive. I had to keep reminding myself that some of them in this group were as young as 11!!!
As we approached the finishers area I started to feel overcome with emotion. All that excitement, joy and pride I felt after my first triathlon came rushing back and my heart sang as I watched one after another cross that finish line. I had to fight back tears quite a few times as the rush of feelings overwhelmed me. These kids gave it their all. They left NOTHING out on that course but their fears and doubts. I was so blown away by just how hard they worked and refused to let anything stop them or get in their way. Perhaps the most beautiful part was watching a group of girls all wait by the finish line for their friends to arrive and immediately embracing them in a giant group hug. It was so heartwarming to see this. I was inspired and empowered to know that these girls would grow into strong women who would constantly support and build each other up. I felt like I was staring into our future, and it looked bright.
|Finishers welcoming team|
Beyond the camaraderie and athleticism of the event there was something else that really struck me watching these kids. Almost all of the kids present where local to the neighborhood, and for the most part were all minorities. As an adult triathlete I'm no stranger to the fact that statistically, minorities are not very prevalent in this sport. At one of my first events during training last year I met a wonderful couple (Denise & Claire) whom I still keep in touch with now. I remember how Denise came up to Jenny and I to tell us how excited she was to see other Latinas getting involved in triathlons because it's rare, especially at our age. It's true, there aren't many Latinas or other minorities at these races. Knowing that events like this kids race could potentially shift the dynamic of the sport for the future is so thrilling and gives me such hope about where triathlons are heading
This has BY FAR been one of the best experiences I've had as a race volunteer. I left feeling hopeful, excited, motivated and most of all inspired. If you could capture the essence of those kids heart and soul that day, it would be enough to fuel the entire universe. Now my mission is to find a kid I can train to be my little protege...