New summer program will prepare kids for triathlon challenge

Area youth?and their parents?will have the chance to explore a new arena of physical training and competition when the first summer-long ?Triple Threat? program takes off on its inaugural run this week.

Amy Ratzlaff, head volleyball coach at Tabor College, and Anna Woods, certified fitness trainer, are organizing the program for children age 7 through 15.

?(Amy) has such a passion for kids? wellness and fitness,? Woods said. ?After the success of The Biggest Loser (weight-loss contest for area adults), we felt we needed to offer something for the younger kids as a challenge for the summer to keep active, to promote family activity and just to help kids get out and do things rather than sit around the house and be bored all summer long.?

The program will involve participants in training for all three legs of a traditional triathlon: swimming, biking and running. It will climax Aug. 16 with a competitive local event called the Triple Threat Triathlon, which will be advertised state?wide.

Participation in the summer-long program will require a $40 fee for the first family member, and $15 for each additional family member, including parents.

?We?re opening it up to parents because we figure most of them are going to be doing the challenge with (their kids) because they?re not going to let them go ride a bike on their own,? Woods said.

?They can do the challenge with their children through the summer and then get a T-shirt at the end.?

For the entry fee, participants can participate in two sports-performance clinics, receive a T-shirt and gain free admission into the Triple Threat Triatha?lon. Several local businesses are underwriting the production of personal journals so the athletes can keep track of their workouts.

Kids, divided into age divisions, can earn prizes for reaching predetermined training goals for each of three activities.

?We have three different categories: gold, silver and bronze,? Woods said. ?Depending on how many miles the kids reach in each event all summer long, they?ll earn a prize for that category.?

The first sports-performance clinic is planned for 7 p.m. Wed?nesday, June 4, at the Sports Complex. Woods and Ratzlaff will review program goals and guidelines as well as offer instruc?tion on bicycle safety and simple maintenance.

A second clinic July 11 will include a swimming lesson, plus tips for making efficient transitions between the three events during competition.

The Triple Threat Triathalon will include a 100-meter swim, four-mile bike route and a two-mile run.

?We?re hoping to bring a lot of people to town and promote it as a community event,? Woods said. ?If any businesses in town want to put flyers or coupons in the registration packet, they can.?

She said a kids? triathalon planned for Hutchinson in August is already maxed out with registrants.

?It?s definitely becoming a growing, popular sport,? Woods said. ?It?s kind of neat because the kids that excel at running or swimming will have to do all three well. It becomes more of a fair opportunity for those who aren?t as good at those kind of events.?

As for the local race, ?We?re hoping it will become an annual thing,? she said. ?But we?ll see how this year goes.?

Kids who can?t make it to the initial clinic on Wednesday can still participate in the program.

?We just need their registration and payment as soon as possible so we can get their journals to them so they can start counting their miles,? Woods said.

Woods can be reached at 620-877-7503.

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