Heavy metal children

By Geoff Lee

June 30, 2016 12:00 AM

Shauna Makepeace, assistant manager of ATB Lloydminster ready to present finishing medals

More than 500 youth compete in Kids of Steel Triathlon

The next Simon Whitfield could come out of the ranks of the 525 Lloydminster students who took part in the third annual ATB Financial Kids of Steel Triathlon.
The event took place Friday at Bud Miller All Seasons Park with nearly double the number of individual and team triathletes in the swim, bike and run competition from last year.
“This is the third year now that we’ve ran it and I think word of mouth just spreads,” said Anthony Bender, race director and vice-principal of St. Joseph’s Elementary School.
“The success that kids feel because they’ve been involved in obviously spreads to other people.”
Whitfield, who won gold for Canada at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, completed his first Kids of Steel triathlon at age 12 in Ontario.
“It’s a great event for kids,” said Bender who had 70 children from his school take part.
“We try to promote a healthy lifestyle and an active lifestyle and that’s one way to do it.”
Bender also credits the huge spike in numbers this year to running “a pretty solid event” the previous two years that’s brought a lot of good people onboard.
“I think parents of athletes have seen what it’s all about or participated in it—I think that’s the best advertising we’ve got,” said Bender.
That was sort of the case for eight-year-old Teige Brown, from Father Gorman Elementary School, who competed as a runner.
“My brother was doing it and then I really wanted to do it too,” he said in the transition area.
Michael Zoka, a nine year-old from St. Mary’s Elementary School credits his mom for his entry.
“While my mom got me into sports because she didn’t want me to be like her because she’s not in sports,” he said.
Individual Lloydminster athletes from ages six to 15 were going for medals covering distances from a 50m swim, 1km bike and a 3km run for juniors, to a 300m, 10km and 3km event for seniors.
In team competition, the distances ranged from a 100m swim, 2km bike and 1km run for juniors with seniors doing a 300m, 10km and 3km triathlon.
Lexus Whelan, an 11 year-old girl at Father Gorman, came to run on a team.
“Well, I just wanted to run and kind of just be a part of things,” she said.
“I don’t think I’ll place, but I think I might do good.”
Each year, everyone gets a participation medal with competition medals awarded to the top three finishers in junior, intermediate and senior age groupings.
With the short cycling distances involved, none of the kids needs to have a triathlon bike.
“If kids want to pursue this and become a triathlete that’s great, but we do want to stress teamwork and that’s why we do it in teams,” said Bender.
The annual event is a joint venture between Lloydminster schools and the City of Lloydminster that provides the venue with more than 70 volunteers pitching in this year.
Cindy Rekimowich, general manager of parks and recreation for the city and a member of the organizing committee,  was stoked by the size of the event this year.
“It’s a great event and we are excited that people are getting active,” she said.
Rekimowich added her department’s role involved setting up the transition area and some of the operations areas to get the course ready.
An orientation for the Kids of Steel competitors was held two days before the event with many parents on hand to lend their support.
“I think a side benefit to it, is families have actually being going to Bud Miller and doing the bike route or doing the run course together as a family,” said Bender.
He said he’s seen many families out doing the bike course in the days leading up to the event so their child knows what they’re doing, or they’ve been in the pool swimming with them.
“I think that’s awesome,” said Bender.
He also thanks ATB Financial for stepping up to be the naming sponsor the event for the past three years.
“It’s kind of their mandate to support community events,” said Bender, who noted they wanted to support active kids.
Prior to the Kids of Steel triathlon, Human Powered Racing presented an all comers triathlon for kids and adults at Bud Miller park, but the adult event got dropped after its first year.
“We just felt it was too much to ask of volunteers,” said Bender who also cited liability and insurance issue with cycling taking place outside of the park.
He said adults can participate in triathlons in Edmonton and Saskatoon.
“We hit our volunteers hard with promoting a healthy lifestyle for kids,” said Bender.
“If we keep it all within Bud Miller park it’s a pretty safe event.”

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