In what has become a familiar sight, Elmira streets will be filled with students from all over the region for the Tinman Triathlon on May 30.
Seventeen high schools will be swimming, running and biking around town in what is known as a try-a-tri, a scaled down version of a full triathlon, giving them a glimpse at the world of triathletes.
This year’s organizer, teacher Thuy Leu, says it is a great way for the 85 Elmira District Secondary School students registered for the Tinman to use what they have learned in gym class, but also, to push their own limits.
“For a lot of the students, I think it gives them the idea that they can actually persevere through three very tough legs of a triathlon. It is a try-tri, but it is still a very difficult thing to do,” she said. “Just to be able to get up off the couch and do it, a lot of kids have been training, and I think a lot of kids have been realizing how important taking a phys. ed. class is too. I am a math teacher but I really advocate healthy living. I really like the fact that the kids have something to show for taking all of those phys. ed. courses and doing all of the activities they do outside of school.”
The Tinman version of the triathlon consisted of a 375-metre swim, followed by a 15-kilometre bike ride on the Kissing Bridge Trail, and a 5-km run to finish the race.
One of the bigger challenge for students in the Tinman is the first leg of the event – swimming.
“It seems that participants find the swimming portion hard. Kids don’t usually swim for fun, so they will find it harder than the running or the biking. They start out with the hard part, though. They start with the swimming, then biking, then running,” she said, adding that participants learn their limits. “The coaches usually rank the participants as being slow, medium and fast, and a lot of the swimmers start out thinking they are at a medium pace, but as it goes on, some of them say, ‘yeah, you might want to switch me to a slow.’ It is an eye opener for some of them.”
The event has been in the works for a couple of months now, with registration and training starting in early March. Leu says she is proud of what the students have accomplished in that time when it comes to training.
“We have students who have been going to the pool and try and do a lane swim, and maybe realizing they have to go a bit more often,” she said. “The kids are good at identifying goals they want to reach. They want to be able to run a certain distance, bike a certain distance, swim at a certain speed, so they really do step up to the plate for sure, at least at EDSS.”
Leu says the students have an option to ease into the triathlon, with participants able to register as teams, and register as individuals at later events.
“A lot of our junior participants, if they think that they can’t do all three, are encouraged to find two other people, and then they can see what they are good at. They can switch it around, and as a result, we get a lot of senior singles. After three years, they have done all three legs and they know what they are getting into. They have an understanding of what they need to do to complete the entire activity,” she said.
The Tinman Triathlon starts up bright an early on May 30, and Leu has a message for the residents and visitors to Elmira on that day.
“I wouldn’t suggest trying to get too many errands done that day around town. It will be busy, for sure,” she said. “Be aware that there are going to be a lot of kids on the streets and on the trail. It is going to be a great day.”