From childs’ play to running with the big boys

Luanne Bytwerk and her son, Nick, used to enjoy running together. That's no longer possible because Nick, 13, just isn't patient enough to wait for his mom. It's that competitive drive that has propelled Nick Bytwerk into the local triathlon scene. He first competed in the Grand Haven Kids' Triathlon two years ago. Earlier this summer, he took the next step and participated in the adult duathlon at Bear Lake.
Matt DeYoung
Jul 8, 2011

This weekend, he’s going all-out, competing in his third Grand Haven Kids’ Triathlon on Saturday, then tackling the Grand Haven Duathlon on Sunday.

At 13, he’s at the maximum age for the kids’ event and the minimum age for the adult competition.

“One year my mom asked if I wanted to do a triathlon and I said, ‘Yeah,’” said the soon-to-be seventh grader at North Muskegon. “I thought it was really fun. I liked all of it, so I’ve done the youth triathlon the last two years, and I did the Bear Lake duathlon this year.”

Running comes naturally to Nick, who thinks nothing of heading out for a 3-mile jog. He doesn’t spend much time training for the bike event, and while he’s happy to be splashing around in the pool with his friends, swimming long distances is not his forte.

“I don’t do much training,” he said. “Sometimes I bike like 5 miles. Swimming is my least favorite. I like swimming, just not the long distances. That’s why I like the duathlon.”

The kids’ triathlon consists of a 100-meter swim inside at the Tri-Cities Family YMCA, followed by a 2 1/4-mile bike ride and a 1 1/4-mile run.

The duathlon will do more to test Bytwerk’s endurance as the demanding event includes a 20K (nearly 12.5 mile) bike ride, sandwiched between a pair of 5K (3.1 mile) runs.

Bytwerk said having already done one duathlon makes him more comfortable heading into Sunday’s race.

“I feel more confident,” he said. “I like the finish line and the accomplishment that you actually did it. Not many people do them.”

“He was very proud of himself at the end,” Luanne Bytwerk said. “It was so rewarding to see that he accomplished that.

“I got him involved in running about 5 years ago, and he likes it. He’s a very active boy. It’s been a fun family thing, watching him grow and compete. It’s a fun bonding experience, running together, but he’s much faster than me, so it’s hard. Within the first minute, he’s way ahead of me.”

Luanne Bytwerk will compete in the Grand Haven Triathlon on Sunday, the fourth consecutive year she’s done the event. She also competed in the Bear Lake Triathlon earlier this year.

“It was fun to pass him along the course,” she said.

Nick Bytwerk also enjoys football, basketball and track and field. His favorite is football, where he plays linebacker.

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