Finishing a triathlon is a relief. Watching your kid finish one is an even bigger relief.
I had the same feeling watching my kids (10 and 8) complete a triathlon in Chicago this weekend that I have when they are building models or making cookies. I was just glad at the end that they finished without making too much of a mess.
There were so many complex logistics and instructions involved in the triathlon as they moved from swimming (in wavy Lake Michigan no less), to getting their biking gear and shoes on, to biking, to dropping off their bikes and finding the running path, to running.
But that was also the appeal. To succeed, the kids not only had to be athletic, they had to concentrate on all of the details to get from point A to Z. Turns out, I'm not alone in thinking this is a fun merger of sport and organizational skill. USAT, the governing body for U.S. triathlons, reported that the number of youth events has increased from 193 in 2004 to 383 in 2010. There are six or seven in Minnesota each summer. The number of children and teens who are USAT members (more than 37,000) has tripled in five years. Apparently, the sport is catching on.
"Most children run quite a bit in everyday play, many learn to bike at an early age and a number take swimming lessons early on," said USAT spokesman John Martin. "Triathlon is a fun and exciting way to combine all three activities."
I'll admit to only being Crazy Sports Dad Guy once this past weekend, as I watched my daughter search for the exact proper place to drop her bike and move on to the run. As precious seconds ticked away -- precious to nobody but me -- I yelled "Drop the bike! Get moving! Drop it!" I calmed down before I completely embarrassed her, or so she tells me now.