I knew this Junior Triathlon meant a lot to our nine year old son because I had to cancel an overnight trip to London for it – and he loves sleeping at London hotels. I think it was the fact that he is confident that he can swim, ride a bike and run so had a really good chance of doing well. The event was really well set up and instructions were sent out in advance of the race which aimed to answer any questions. There was also a race briefing beforehand – going over what was to be expected (as per the advanced instructions) and again an opportunity for questions to be asked. All this run by volunteers and the entry price cost less than £4 which included a medal, water and fruit too.
Registration was straight forward – as we knew his number we went to the appropriate table and they gave him a number for his front and 2 stickers (one for his helmet and the other for his bike). He then had to take his bike to be checked and the even put the seat up for him. In fact he’s been asking for a new one and turns out that he has actually outgrown it! Then he had to take his bike and helmet to the transition area and leave it by his placement marker/cone. This was then followed by a lot of waiting around and in future we will remember to bring at least a football with us to pass the time. There was the safety briefing and more time waiting. We had a time slot for him to be in the pool and needed to go and place his things down 10 minutes before that. What was nice in that time was hearing parents telling their children that they could drop out at any point if it got too much; just the kind of attitude I like, especially as it was meant to be fun.
The children were called into the pool depending on their number in groups of 10. They then had to place themselves in number order at the side. Whilst they waited other competitors had already started swimming. They had to go up one side and back down the other. But all of sudden the alarm went off and the lifeguard dived into the pool. Without even disturbing the other swimmers he managed to get a year 3 boy who we know well out of the pool. His big brother dealt with everything so well – managing to call his father and comfort his brother at the same time. I am not really sure what (if any) impact this had on the swimmers but things continued nice and calmly. Our son had opted to swim in his trunks and then put on a t-shirt (with his race number) and just trainers (with no socks) and did not want to waste time drying himself when he got out the pool. That all he would need to do is pass me his goggles. He swam really well – just next time I think it would be beneficial if he learnt how to do a roll to change directions.
He lost a bit of time because he could not find his t-shirt and shoes, the problem was that an adult was standing in front of his stuff, which had been knocked backwards. I also hadn’t anticipated how long it would take to get to him (mainly because I had asked the organiser’s wife if she knew how the little boy was) so a few more seconds lost but hopefully nothing major – until I took his goggles and helped him with his shoes. He didn’t even wait until they were done up properly and was off! Parents were meant to go the long way round so I missed him running to his bike but my husband got some fantastic photos – and he was just smiling. I am so pleased we cancelled our plans for him! I think taking the boys to Parkrun and joining Athletics Club has done wonders for a lot more than their fitness levels but confidence too.
The bike part looked pretty difficult with a small hill – which we saw one boy getting off his bike and walking up. But our son continued without stopping and even stood up to ride (like he told us he would). By this point I should imagine the children were feeling pretty tired and I guess it may have been a bit disheartening to see some of the very athletic boys leave him behind. He knew they were in his year group too (which is how the medals were awarded out) because they are at his athletics club. But again some children were walking at this point and I just ran alongside him – as I know he can go much faster than me. In fact because of this I actually missed him crossing the finish line. As he suspected he hadn’t come in the top 3 but that didn’t matter. Not to him and not to us. He did it and we are very proud. Even more important than that though he was really happy! I can’t wait for the results to come out and I know that both my son’s can’t wait to take part next year – the youngest just needs to practice on his bike now. I would also like to hope that more people from our school would join in too as there was also two trophies (one for large and the other small school). Problem is the school had not mentioned it – fingers crossed for next year as I am sure many children would have loved to have taken part if they had known.