By BETSY TAYLOR
About 100 children swam, biked and ran in a mini-triathlon sponsored this spring by Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa, Okla. The friendly, multistaged competition at the Health Zone at Saint Francis had kids ages 6 to 9 swimming 50 yards, biking a half mile on a stationary bike and running a quarter mile on an indoor track. Children ages 10 to 13 swam 100 yards, biked 1 mile and ran a half mile at the April 11 event.
Rusty Riggs, an exercise specialist at the Health Zone at Saint Francis, helps Nathan Wood get started on the indoor bicycle during the mini-triathlon.
While adult triathletes often are dedicated to building their endurance and shaving seconds off their race times, the kids' triathlon was a friendly competition and everyone who was sporting enough to enter went home with a medal and a "Splash, Pedal, Run" T-shirt.
John-Kelly Warren, the chair of the health system's board of directors, said when children have fun exercising they're more likely to keep moving and may be game to try other athletic challenges. Warren, himself a triathlete, was among those who championed the idea of creating a triathlon for kids. The first kids' triathlon was held last year.
Three of Sharon Linsenmeyer's four children participated in the event, 11-year-old Emma, 9-year-old Cate and 7-year-old Hannah. One was too young to compete. Linsenmeyer said she tries to make exercise enjoyable for her children so they set a pattern of fitness "where it's not all-consuming, but fun."
The triathlon was staged indoors, which made it easier for her to keep track of her children. And, she said, the health care system had plenty of staff and volunteers in the pool and around to assist children.
The Health Zone at Saint Francis offered short-term, free family passes to the facility before the mini-triathlon for participants and their families, and encouraged families to exercise together.
The day of the mini-triathlon, some families sought information about other children's fitness programs offered by the system, such as its ShapeDown weight loss program and its summer fitness camps, said Lauren Landwerlin, executive director for corporate communications.
Copyright © 2015 by the Catholic Health Association
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