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Kids set to tackle triathlon
YMCA's triathlon perfect for kids, adults

 (Left to right) Brothers Parker, Hunter and Zander Eiben gear up for the YMCA's annual Sprint and Youth Triathlon June 6 in Spotsylvania.
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Date published: 5/23/2010


With the Great Train Race under his 5-year-old belt, Parker Eiben has his sights set on his first triathlon.

The prekindergartner will swim, bike and run--with a little help from a life jacket and training wheels--at a youth triathlon June 6 at the YMCA in Spotsylvania County.

"Parker is beside himself," said mom Julie Eiben. "He's so excited."

And why shouldn't he be?

Each competitor gets a medal. There's pizza after the race. And everyone gets to swim, bike and run around outside.

"It's so, so family-friendly," Eiben said of the event her two older boys have already done twice. "So many parents don't know how to get their kids started. This is safe. All the kids get a medal and a T-shirt and there's food. It's a great, great race for kids."

Five- to 10-year-olds swim two lengths of the YMCA's pool, ride their bikes for 1.6 miles and run three-quarters of a mile. Each leg for kids 11 to 14 is twice as long.

For adults and teens 15 and older, the June 6 race includes a 500-yard pool swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 5K run.


The shortened race for children is in keeping with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy says triathlons are safe for children as long as they're shorter in length than adult triathlons, and as long as the emphasis is on fun and safety, not competition.

Staying safe means always wearing a helmet during the bike ride. And, parents should be sure their kids can swim the pool distance before allowing them into the water.

Dr. Roxanne Allegretti of Preferred Pediatrics said the YMCA race distances sound reasonable, provided there's plenty of adult supervision and a child has had a chance to practice first.

"For kids who are in reasonably good health and good shape, they're not excessive distances. Any kid at that age should be able to do those distances," she said. "I have a feeling there are a lot who can't. It's a good reason to get off the couch."

That goes for adults, as well.

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The Radley Auto Group Sprint and Youth Triathlon takes place Sunday, June 6, at Ron Rosner YMCA of Spotsylvania, 5700 Smith Station Road.

The event, also supported by Fredericksburg Orthodontics and Papa John's Pizza, includes separate swim/bike/run races for 5- to 10-year-olds, 11- to 14-year-olds and those 15 and older.

The adult race, which starts at 7 a.m., costs $60 per person or $70 for a relay team, where competitors split up the three legs. Fees climb to $65 and $75 after June 1.

The youth events, which start at 10:30 a.m, cost $25 per person or $30 per relay team. Young children can use life jackets during the pool swim and training wheels for the bike ride.

Race meetings for first-timers take place on Saturday, June 5, from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the YMCA.

Deadline for registering is the morning of the race.

For more information or to register, visit racetimingunlimit ed.org and click on "triathlons" on the left side.