A kids triathlon is a combination athletic event designed for child athletes. The distances are shortened to make them safe for children, and several age classes may be created so children can compete with people at similar levels of fitness and ability. In a kids triathlon, children will swim, bicycle, and then run. The winner is the person who completes the entire event in the shortest period of time.
Globally, the triathlon is a very popular event, testing speed, stamina, and physical abilities. In grueling events known as Ironman Triathlons, people complete a course over very long distances, sometimes in highly adverse conditions. Events for children are not as physically demanding, as the goal is to spark interest in the sport and get kids physically active.
In a kids triathlon, the length of the course can vary. With some events, lengths may not be prescribed at all, with children completing as much as they want to and are able. Other events may set different distances for different age classes, allowing children of all ages to compete safely. Teens usually compete in teen events and are sometimes allowed to participate in adult triathlons, if they are physically fit and their trainers and the triathlon organizers believe it is safe.
The athletes start with a swim in a pool or body of water. Lifeguards are present for safety. When children get out of the water, they towel dry, put on biking gear, and complete the cycling segment of the event. With a quick change of shoes, they are ready for the final portion, the run, completed on a track or road, depending on the event. The kids triathlon usually breaks up competitors by age and gender, awarding male and female winners in each age class of the race. Some events hand out awards to all competitors to keep the event fun.
To compete in a kids triathlon, kids need to fill out registration paperwork with the assistance of their parents. Some events welcome children at all levels of ability, while others expect competitors to have some training and experience. Children may need to place in lower-level events to compete in more elite kids triathlons. Many events offer classes and coaching beforehand to help people prepare.
Safety is important for athletes of all ages, and with children in particular, there are concerns about the impact of hard physical work on a growing body. Medical personnel are usually present to provide care for any injured athletes, including children who become exhausted or develop dehydration or heat stroke. Children may be checked at each stage to make sure they are fit enough to continue, and parents tend to keep a close eye on their athletes.