Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:56 PM

On Saturday, dozens of youngsters will get a taste of what it’s like to compete in a big-time fitness event as they participate in the Spring Lake Kids Triathlon.

The event, which is open to youngsters ages 8-15, teaches some real-life skills that will hopefully last a lifetime.

“The bottom line is, I hope they learn how good it feels to be physically fit, and secondly, how much fun it can be to compete,” said event organizer Lucy Steinlage.

The younger competitors — ages 8-11, begin at 9 a.m. with four lengths of the pool at the Spring Lake Community Fitness and Aquatic Center. Then it’s outside for a 2.5-mile bike ride, followed by a 1-mile run.

Older competitors — ages 12-15 — swim eight lengths of the pool, followed by a 5-mile bike ride and a 2-mile run.

The course is completely monitored by volunteers, and is almost exclusively on the campus of Spring Lake High School. The bike course takes the kids onto the bike path along Leonard Road.

Each child will receive an award for participating. The top three male and female finishers in each age group receive additional awards, and the top three overall finishers will also be recognized.

Post-race refreshments will be available.

A mandatory pre-race meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Bikes must be staged before the pre-race meeting. Bikes must be two-wheelers, and a helmet must be worn by each participant.

Steinlage, who saw several of her children go on to play athletics at the college level, stresses the importance of a healthy, athletic lifestyle to her children and those she works with as a swim coach.

“The kids learn what it feels like to be healthy,” she said. “I love the fact that these kids are making the world a better place. I think health makes the world a better place.”

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