Nation's largest Kids Triathlon hosted Sunday at Jacksonville University
13abc.com Joe Nugent, Sports Anchor/Reporter - email
Over the past six years, more than 8,000 kids have participated in the First Coast Kids Triathlon. On Sunday, this tradition will continue when more than 1,800 kids become triathletes and motivate thousands of families to lead healthier lives.
Since early March, 15,000 kids have benefitted from in-school education programs and hands-on training courses – all provided for free. “The Y saw the potential of this event, and we could not be more proud of what it has accomplished. We are deeply committed to strengthening community, and this event allows us to do that,” commented Eric Mann, Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. He continued, “With the support of the Jacksonville Jaguars and many other partners, we have been able to motivate thousands of kids to become triathletes. We hope their participation helps them discover a lifelong passion for healthy living.”
“What Jacksonville has been able to accomplish over the past 6 years is amazing,” said Peter Racine, President of the Jaguars Foundation. “This proactive effort supports the goals of our NFL PLAY 60 Program, and more importantly, it changes lives. We applaud all the parents, teachers and coaches who have worked tirelessly to make this possible.”
Tim Cost, Jacksonville University President, emphasized the university’s pride in hosting the event at its 200-acre riverfront campus for the second year.
“We are excited to have this remarkable event take place at JU,” he said. “Jacksonville University is proud to work with the community in this effort to instill healthy values in our young people.”
According to Tom Gildersleeve, Event Director, 42 local schools have organized teams and kids from across Florida will participate. Some of the weekend highlights include:
A Transition Area Nearly the Size of a Football Field. This 290’ x 135’ plot of land on the banks of the St. Johns River will be home to more than 1,800 bikes, pairs of sneakers, shorts, shirts, towels, goggles and more throughout the weekend.
New XClass™ Races will feature 90 of the top youth triathletes in Florida who together have already completed more than 1,500 triathlons. As its popularity continues to explode, kids are adopting triathlon as their primary sport, and Women’s Triathlon became an official NCAA Division I emerging scholarship sport in January 2014.
38 Kids from the Bridge of Northeast Florida and the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation will become triathletes. As part of the program, many of these underprivileged athletes will earn their very first bike -- ever, and they will accomplish something less than 1% of all kids ever do. All of these kids have been receiving special coaching and have been preparing for the event over the past 60 days.
About the First Coast Kids Triathlon: Organized through Kids Triathlon, Inc. (a 501c(3) organization based in Jacksonville, FL), the First Coast Kids Triathlon is the primary fundraising event for a year-around outreach program to introduce kids to the benefits of a healthy, active and responsible lifestyle. All activities are coordinated by an Organizing Committee, and the event is 100% staffed by volunteers. During 2014, more than $36,000 and 900 hours of help will be donated to “healthy kid” initiatives across Northeast Florida.
Schedule of Events for May 17 & 18, 2014: Race weekend is spread over parts of 2 days. The festivities kick-off Saturday afternoon at 3:00pm with Packet Pick-Up and the Event Expo. Saturday is highlighted by the Pep Rally (starts at 5:30pm) featuring welcomes from local officials, introductions of the 2014 Celebrity Big Kids and a motivational speech by Almon Gunter. Sunday morning is race day with transition opening at 6:00am and the races starting at 7:30am. Everything concludes with the Awards Ceremony at 1:00pm on Sunday.
What is a Kids Triathlon? Triathlon is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and kids triathlons are a vital part of this trend. Race distances are set by the USATriathlon (the governing body of the sport under the United States Olympic Committee) to be challenging, yet achievable, and every race consists of 4 components – swimming, biking, running and transitions. There are 2 divisions in kids races with the Juniors (10 years old & under) completing a 100 yard swim; 3 mile bike and 0.5 mile run. The Seniors (ages 11 – 15) complete double the distances (200 yard swim; 6 mile bike; and 1 mile run).
About the Y: For more than 100 years, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast has been providing men, women and children of all ages, and from all walks of life opportunities to build stronger bonds, live healthy and become more engaged with their communities. Learn more at: www.firstcoastymca.org.