On Sunday, October 15th, the 21st annual XTERRA SuperKid Triathlon will take place in Santa Cruz, California at the Simpkins Swim Center. It is the only off-road kids triathlon of its kind, ensuring that the kids will be the stars, whether they choose to compete in a team relay, an individual triathlon, or the brand new "Splash and Dash" swim and run.
"It struck me that we are entering our third decade," said race director, Penni Bengtson. "For me, it's an absolute labor of love. And it's so important for the kids."
Bengtson says that in the past decade, the number of children ages ten and up who participate in triathlons has been declining, in part, due to increased time spent in front of screens, TVs, and computer games.
XTERRA SuperKid has always been about building strong bodies and healthy kids. This means getting them off the couch, away from the TV, phones, video games, and outside for some healthy physical activity.
It doesn't matter if your child is already an athlete or is just starting to engage in sports and outdoor activity. XTERRA SuperKid is a great event for the whole family and gives your children the opportunity to be active and healthy. With a swim, bike and run course, real transition area, body markings and fun prizes for participants, you can help your child gain the self esteem that comes from doing their personal best.
Course maps are available at www.finishlineproduction.com and range from a swim across the pool with floaties and helpers for the three and four year olds to a sprint triathlon for the 13-15 year olds, who will swim 300 meters, bike 3.75 miles, and run 1.25 miles.
Because it's an XTERRA race, cyclocross bikes, BMX, fat tire, and mountain bikes are all suitable, and helmets are a must.
This year, the youngest XTERRA SuperKid competitor is three and the oldest is 16.
"I'm so glad to see there are more younger ones out there because they will go all the way through."
Bengtson has seen many children start with XTERRA SuperKids at age three and continue into their teenage years. As they age out, many come back as ambassadors and help the younger children on the course.
Children six and under can have one parent with them on the course, but competitors ages seven and older get to navigate the course on their own. Bengtson makes it easy and fun by giving each child a swim cap, which is color coded to their age group. They receive a matching bracelet, which corresponds to the appropriate, color-coded course markings. All a child needs to do is to look at their wrist to know which color to follow on the course, even if they aren't old enough to read.
All distances follow the USA Triathlon sanction and course development guidelines for children their ages.
"Although the course may seem short," added Bengtson, "We follow all the USAT guidelines, and because it's off road, even this short distance can be a healthy challenge."
Bengtson - who is a triathlete herself - joined the SuperKids team in the race's fourth year. At the time, she was working in Silicon Valley.
"I got hooked," says Bengtson, "Eventually I quit my job and do this full time."
Her company, Finish Line Productions, is involved with over 20 race events a year.
For more information and to register, visit www.finishlineproduction.com.