BALTIMORE - Childhood obesity is a major concern and some children are getting active by taking part in triathlons.
Winter Vinecki is just 12, but she's a veteran when it comes to triathlons. She started out when she was just 5, "After that first tri, I was really hooked on the sport."
Then there are the Connerty children: 6 year old Annabell and 8 year old Huntley. They are beginners who just crossed the finish line for the first time ever. Huntley plans on doing tris to stay a healthy child, "I like it and it keeps you healthy."
They were proud to cross the finish line. Winter, on the other hand, is setting records. She's won two National titles and is the Ambassador for Ironkids. After losing her father to prostate cancer she even launched a worldwide team to raise money to help find a cure. This is her passion. She thinks everyone should give it a 'tri', "You can race for a cause. You can do it for yourself. You can do it as part of a relay."
Ironkids director, Michelle Payette, points out at the kid level you really don't need special equipment, "You don't have to be part of a team. You don't have to have a coach. You just have to get active." Winter's mom says she's watched the sport grow over the past few years and has seen kids of all shapes and sizes participate, just as you do in triathlons involving older races, "They're out there giving it a try whether they're good or bad, whether they're thin or overweight. You don't have to be great at it. It's about getting across the finish line."
According to USA Triathlon, kids from 7-17 now make up 25% of the total number of triathletes. It's an official sport in the Olympics and the USA Triathlon Association is working towards making it an NCAA sport. Though there are critics. Some say it's too much and far too hard on these little bodies. But Michelle Payette, of Ironkids, says the distance on the tris are age appropriate, "Some people think of triathlon, is 'It's gotta be a huge triathlon, you know, what distances are these kids doing?' They're age appropriate."
Distances are sized down, according to the age group. Think your child may not be up to it? Payette says many children are already doing triathlons each weekend, without realizing it, "Kids, you know, they'll get up on a summer day, get on their bike, ride to the lake or pool and swim around, get out and play tag. That's a triathlon."
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