“I just like all the things they do in a triathlon, so I thought I’d give it a try,” Parker said. “Yeah, it was fun. I liked the biking the best. I passed a lot of people. The hardest part was running. It’s only a mile, but it’s at the end, so you’re tired.”
The event started in the Spring Lake Community Aquatics Center. Athletes went off in waves, with those ages 6-11 completing two laps of the pool for a total of 100 yards. The older competitors completed four laps, covering 200 yards.
After climbing out of the pool, kids quickly dried off, slipped on shoes and T-shirts, and hopped on their bikes. The younger kids biked 2.5 miles down Leonard Street and back, while the older competitors went 5 miles.
The event ended with a run around the grounds at SLHS — 1 mile for the younger athletes and 2 miles for the older kids.
“It was really fun,” said event organizer Lucy Steinlage. “The bottom line is, each one of these kids feels good about themselves. This can be a launching pad into the rest of their lives. That sounds dramatic, but it really is true.”
The first to cross the finish line was 6-year-old Nolan Clark. His sister, 10-year-old Alonna Clark, also competed and fared well.
“This is my third one,” Nolan Clark said. “The biking was my favorite part. Running was the hardest. My legs felt kind of weird because of the biking.”
Alonna Clark, who competes on the Shoreline Lightning Swim Club, enjoyed her laps in the pool the best.
“Swimming was my favorite part,” she said. “I was second coming out of the pool. Running was hard because there was a hill and the line (marking the course) was half on the hill.”
The best time turned in by an athlete age 11 and under was Raymo Blancato’s effort of 20 minutes, 26.7 seconds. Kevin Losee was second in 22:06.7, and Kathryn Ackerman was third in 23:20.3.
In the 12-15 age group, Kyle Christensen had the top time at 34:55.8. Drew Fogel was next at 38:59.7, followed by Jennifer Meuleubelt in 45:44.7.
Steinlage said the event drew more participants than the previous two years, thanks in part to better publicity, and noted that a raffle following the competition was a big hit with competitors.
“We went around to area businesses, and it was very nice of them to donate,” she said. “This was really a good group of kids who want to do well.”