Ryleah Thorne does not even reach her parents’ shoulders, but she easily outran her mother Amber as the pair huffed and puffed their way around Victoria Park on Aug. 18.
The Truro resident was one of 80 children aged three to 15 signed up for the sixth annual Truro Kids Triathlon, whose organizers hope will be an introduction to a lifetime of fitness.
“It’s a whole new world, so hopefully she’ll love it and continue with them,” said Amber as Ryleah giggled happily after her race. “For me, [it’s] just introducing a healthy, active lifestyle.”
Children started off with a swimming race in the park’s pool, before hopping on a bike and finally running around the park towards a finish line where they were met by volunteers handing out drinks, orange and watermelon slices and other snacks.
The race distances varied according to age category. The youngest children between ages three and five completed a 25 metre swim and bike and foot races of 400 metres each.
The oldest athletes between 14 and 15 had a 200 metre swim race, three kilometre bike ride and a two kilometre run.
“Triathlon is a lifestyle and you can hold that lifestyle for a lot of years. We’ve got individuals doing Ironman [challenges]that are in their 80s now that you’ll see on Iron Man Hawaii every year. It’s something you can do for a long time, it’s nice to get a start when you’re young in a positive and safe environment,” said organizer Troy Bond.
He added that the triathlon also gave Truro a tourism boost of sorts, as it attracted people from outside town to Victoria Park, which he described as “the best in the province.”
Two such out-of-towners were Hilary Breckon and her three-year-old daughter Sloane from Tantallon. Like the Thornes, this was their first-ever triathlon.
While physical exercise was an important reason for them competing in the triathlon, Breckon said that it was also a good way to bring children outside and help them meet other athletes.
“It just helps get them in the spirit, gets them motivated and out in the environment and fresh air, the friendships they’re making, it’s just such a positive experience I think, for all kids,” said Breckon.
The annual Truro Kids Triathlon is a Triathlon Nova Scotia-sanctioned event. Local organizers gotruro.ca partnered with the Town of Truro Parks and Recreation, which also operates the Victoria Park Pool and the Municipality of Colchester County.