April 11

Kelly Steele Aug 08, 2013 - 5:00 AM EDT

When Steven Peters, 9, lines up at the start line for the Tecumseh Kids for Hospice triathlon on Saturday he’s going to be trying hard to keep his nerves at bay.

The Tecumseh athlete was just one of several young competitors training for the event by taking a camp designed to introduce them to the three disciplines — swim, bike and run. It offered them a chance to work with coaches and improve their techniques while making some new friends. The three-day camp, held at Lacasse Park a couple weeks ago, attracted close to 80 children ranging in age from seven to 13.

“This is the first year I’ve done the camp,” Peters said. “I really enjoyed it. But I really liked the biking the most. I find it the most fun.”

Peters said his dad has competed in triathlons before so he had a general idea about what was involved.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, so I figured this camp was my chance,” he said. “After the camp I think I’m probably going to train a lot more on the bike and swim before the race. There is still a lot I need to do to get ready. I’m a little nervous but I think I’ll do OK.”

Richard Janisse, 11, runs the track during the Kids of Steel Camp. (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star)

Richard Janisse, 11, runs the track during the Kids of Steel Camp. (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star)

Richard Janisse, 11, from LaSalle was also new to the camp. He was looking forward to learning more about transition, which is when a triathlete comes out of the water and goes onto their bike and then from their bike to running. The key to a good triathlon is being prepared in transition, which means having your shoes, helmet and running gear organized and ready to go.

“I’m a little nervous,” he said. “Mostly about how I’m going to do. I think I’m going to do well because I’ve been training very hard.”

Janisse said his interest was piqued by watching his uncle, Jim Stewart, train and compete in Ironman triathlons. He’s enjoying his training, but definitely enjoys the bike the most.

“I like how far you can go on the bike,” he said. “It’s also fun to go swimming.”

For Rosemary Gryn, putting her eight-year-old son Joshua into triathlons opened her eyes to a whole new sport. The Tecumseh resident said she loved the excitement, and within no time found herself training and signing up for the Windsor event.

“Three years ago Joshua did a triathlon when he was five,” she said. “I was ready to exercise so I decided to buy a road bike and then ended up doing a duathlon.”

She surprised herself when she placed first in her age group and since that moment has embraced the sport, especially the cycling. Duathlons involve only running and cycling, no swimming like the triathlons. Gryn now rides with the East Side Riders, a local cycling group.

“I think what I love about cycling is the fact that I can be on my bike for three hours and time just seems to stand still, ” she said. “I don’t think about work or anything else. I just enjoy my time on the bike.”

Kids for Hospice triathlon organizer John McKibbon said he has noticed a huge increase in the number of kids participating in the race and the camp over the past 17 years. All the money raised from the two-day event goes to support Hospice of Windsor and Essex County.

“I think the popularity is just because in today’s world everyone is looking for something different to try, a new adventure,” McKibbon said. “Also a lot of these kids have athletic parents who participated in the Kids of Steel triathlon camp and race and now they have their kids here training.”

The Tecumseh Tri Weekend is a very popular event drawing top athletes from all over Ontario.

“I think in the old days when we had Kids of Steel it was just something for people to come out and do,” he said. “But when Simon Whitfield won a gold medal in triathlon at the Sydney Olympics it really solidified this sport. All of a sudden, kids had someone to look up to, someone to be like. And, it was interesting because Simon was a Kids of Steel athlete.”

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tags: triathlon, hospice, kids