Something new to “tri” on Halloween

The 4th Annual Estrella Kid’s Triathlon will have a spooky twist this year. The event has moved to Halloween — Sunday, Oct. 31 — and has added an elite competition component for older kids.

The nonprofit Estrella Multisport Club, Inc. hosts the event, which is geared to kids ages 5 to 13. Participants can explore their interests in cycling, running and swimming while learning the fundamental skills necessary to reach their athletic goals and setting the path for a positive, lifelong journey in sports.

“This really is an amazing event,” says Jen Weber of Goodyear, who got involved as a parent volunteer and is now vice president and marketing director of the club. “Kids who are unsure if they will be able to do it finish with smiles larger than life. By participating, they learn exercise is for everyone and they gain self-confidence they didn’t know they had. My goal is to get as many kids active and fit as possible. One event can change a child’s life.”

Weber and her husband Mark and have three children: John (6), Jaden (4) and Justin (19 months). “We raise our children with the philosophy that kids need to be active,” she says. “Along with their studies, they need to participate in one or two activities. Life isn’t one-dimensional. So in the beginning of last year, I asked the boys what they wanted to do. I asked if they wanted to play soccer, t-ball or basketball. And John, who was 5 at the time, answered my question with a question: ‘Can you sign me up to play pinball?’

“At this point I realized I needed to find some alternatives to all the team sports. The triathlon presented itself as a solution. John wanted to do it, but wasn’t sure if he could. He still couldn’t ride a bike without training wheels. In this picture [below] you’ll see he looks like he’s not sure how much longer he can go on…

“But in this picture [right] you’ll see this big smile when he realizes he made it. The definition of ‘proud’ is plastered on his face. The boy who will never talk to anyone wanted to call his grandparents and tell them what he accomplished. He didn’t want to shower because he didn’t want the number to wash off his arm, just yet. This simple event meant a lot to him.

“The beauty is, once the children finish their first triathlon, they start to become more aware of their surroundings and how it all works. They want to be faster and they want to beat their time from last year. They learn through training and nutrition they will become stronger and faster. They begin to make better choices for themselves without mom having to beg or be the disciplinarian. They might want a cookie, but carrots are a power food. And when the kids are aware the triathlon is coming up, the Wii remotes are put down more often and the mileage on the bikes start to add up. They will do their best. The pattern for a healthy adult lifestyle begins.

“As the health care debate rages on, I am still an advocate of taking preventative actions. How we raise our kids effects what type of adults they will become. I love it and encourage all parents to get their kids involved. The lessons they learn from participating will last their entire life.”

The race begins at 8am at the Starpointe Residence Center. It starts with a run, followed by a scenic ride around the North Lake, and ends with a dip in the lap pool. Ages 5 to 8 will complete the short course, consisting of a .25-mile run, 1.5 mile bike ride and a 25-yard swim. Ages 9 to 13 will complete the long course, consisting of a .5-mile run, 2.8-mile ride and a 50-yard swim. This year, for those who dare (ages 9-13), there will be a new elite race.

“Last year we had a wonderful turnout and we suggest parents preregister as soon as possible,” says Weber.

Registration forms can be downloaded at estrellamultisport.com or picked up at the Starpointe Residents Club. Registration and entry fee must be received by Oct. 18 to qualify. There is no same-day registration.

Entry fee is $30 ($20 for community residents). Participants will be invited to attend a free clinic to prepare both parents and kids for the event. The top three places in each category will receive a trophy and everyone will receive a participation medal, goody bag and T-shirt.

Estrella Multi-Sport is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting athletes of all ages and abilities in pursuit of their athletic goals and community interaction through a variety of sports. Sponsors and volunteers are needed. For more information, write to info@estrellamultisport.com.

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