With summer vacation soon approaching, the younger generation has one more thing to look forward to – the annual TriGator Triathlon. The hugely popular event returns to Elmira on June 20.The event is open to children from three to 14 and features the traditional swimming, biking, and running of a triathlon. It’s held at the Woolwich Memorial Centre pool, and in the surrounding area for biking and running.
“We sold out in 24 hours which was longer than previous years and we think it’s because we didn’t send out a reminder email the week of registration. We were pleased it didn’t sell out immediately because it meant that parents who had a conflict at that time that registration opened were still able to register later in the day,” said committee member, David Bedrosian.
It’s also a fundraiser, raising funds for Canadian Tire Jumpstart last year. Jumpstart gives children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to, the opportunity to participate in organized sports in the area.
They had close to 800 participants last year, much more than the 175 they had in their first year. Now in its sixth year the event will see more than 800 kids get the chance to try their hand at a triathlon.
“We’ve talked about maybe maxing out at 1,000 but it’s hard to say. Our primary concern is that the day goes smoothly and safely for all the participants,” Bedrosian said.
The youngest age group (3-5) starts at 8:30 a.m., with different ages starting roughly every hour, and the oldest (12-14) taking their turn at 1:15 p.m. Participants are asked to be there an hour before their swim time to register and set up their bike in the transition zone.
The young ones will swim one lap of the pool, bike 300 metres, and run 100 metres to the finish line. The oldest will do six laps, bike 7.5 kilometres, and run two kilometres.
It takes upwards of 200 volunteers to run the event. They help with everything from awarding medals, to manning water stations, to cheering on the participants.
“If this year goes especially well we’ll consider increasing the numbers, but it’s a challenge because as we increase the numbers the day gets a little longer and trying to get volunteers, this year especially has been difficult and asking the volunteers to stay later makes that even more difficult,” he said.
It’s undetermined at this point if all the money raised will go to Jumpstart. He said they’ll decide where to allocate it after the event. The event relies on a variety of sponsors to keep it running, since the $30 entry fee per child is low compared to other triathlons, and doesn’t cover the true cost of running it.
But they’re not planning on increasing the price because they don’t want families with multiple children having to not participate because it’s too expensive.
As for the kids, there are lots of reasons why they’re eager to give it a try.
“They like the fact that it’s a non-competitive event, that everyone gets a medal, the freezie at the end is always a big hit,” Bedrosian said. “Lots of comments on the atmosphere, all the volunteers, everybody looks like they’re having fun, the supportiveness of the volunteers, and the inclusiveness as well. We’re always looking for special needs athletes to participate in TriGator. Everyone can do a triathlon is what we’re looking to promote.”
They’re still looking for volunteers. High school students needing more volunteer hours are welcome to help out at the event. You can register as a volunteer at www.trigator4kids.com.
“The feedback we get at the end of the race is very satisfying knowing a lot of these kids have had a chance to do a triathlon,” Bedrosian said. “For me it’s so much fun on the day to see the smiles on the kids and to see the determination of the kids.”