ALASKA IronKids Aquathlon is just Kid’s Play!  Nope!

cdiva01Visit Alaska IronKids Phils. website for registration and more information.

What’s more fascinating than to see young kids at play in youthful abandon and carefree countenance?  That was the very thought running through my head as I envision the atmosphere I will come to experience for the very first time going to the Ateneo Grade School campus where the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon event is going to be held.

I am not totally sure if this thought of seeing kids splashing and running really excites me.  I see them do particularly that every day of their young lives.  Moreover, I don’t see any reason why a sport event be held just to showcase that!  And in my case, any reason why I should watch or witness such activity I have been dreaming of doing but don’t have the courage to!  Not in any way will I let these kids show me how!

By the very sound of the commanding voice of resident IronKids coach and my idol Ani de Leon-Brown shouting “go!” and the stir of fluttering limbs and flailing arms of 6-8 year old kids creating what looked like as if a washing machine was being turned on, all my prejudices were extinguished.  I realized how ignorant and naive I had been in my assessment of Ironkids Aquathlon as mere kids at play.  Even the youngest of them all showed me the meaning of fierce resolve and competitiveness all plastered in their juvenile faces trying to navigate 4 times this 25 meter pool!  I can’t even do 2 laps without bubbling my lungs out!

Here’s How the Routes for Different Age Groups Look Like

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So Young Yet So Strong

There is even this one girl who would rather wade through the water just to finish the distance than give up knowing how hard it is to walk in the pool.  Another one almost walked out of the competition only to come back after a minute talk with a parent and attacked the remaining distance as it she is neck and neck with a competitor.  Such resolve and strength of will at such a young age is indeed very inspiring.

Now I am feeling ashamed of myself at my initial thoughts.  Age group after age group started in succession with the boys of each group going first followed by the girls.  Preliminary instructions are given out by coach Annie reminding them of how many laps they should navigate, where to start and end, not to forget to touch the wall with each lap, etc. before going down into the pool.  Enough time was also given to warm-up in the pool before gun start.  A marshal holds the group in one corner to make sure no one goes ahead prematurely.  Kudos to all the marshals getting themselves wet inside the pool just to secure the young aquathletes.

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A Stage for Parents Too!

Parents are likewise as jittery as the kids themselves.  Some even cannot be restrained by the host’s frequent reminder not to enter the area at the side of the pool where swimmers of the succeeding wave await their turn.  Talk of stage parenting even in a sporting event!  The rest content themselves at the bleachers cheering their hearts out.  Some even came with cheer balloons and some other props to show their support.

I found the perfect spot by which to experience the thrill as if I got a kid joining.  (Now is one of those times I wish I had one.)  It is at the other end of the pool where some parents acting either as coach or photographer (two of the many roles of parents) readied themselves to shout encouragements while trying to capture their young athletes shining moments.

Wave after wave and age group after age group started and finished with the intensity growing and the athletic ability getting more pronounced with each increasing age classification.  I was even amazed by how sculpted and muscle bound the bodies of these teenagers are.  By the time the girls of the 13-14 years old category had all finished their swim part and before the relay even gets started, it suddenly dawned on me to catch up, though belatedly, with the run part!  I got so engrossed with the actions happening in the pool that I totally forgot that there is still the run part to cover.

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How the Routes of the Relay Look

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The Transition and the Run

Before stepping into the road for their required run, our young competitors must change into running shoes and singlet/shirt if they did not wear one in the swim (applicable to the boys so far).  The area was organized with a ladder-like boxed spots where each one has an assigned place to put his/her things.  I have seen how diverse these things are for each one.  I have seen petroleum jellies, sun blocks, lotions, powders, a handful of towels and what-have-yous needed, some unnecessary but deemed important by the parents/coaches/photographers/cheerers/driver/treasurer, for a comfortable kiddos run.

It is unfortunate that I had not observed how the goings on were at the transition area.  Knowing the propensity of parents, I am sure everything went smooth with the kids with the parents all agog shouting instructions by the side line.

The run part is just the road area outside the pool consisting of a 500 meter lap where aquathletes looped for as many times as their age group requires.  After a tiring swim, I have all admiration for the competitors for giving their all out, maintaining that fierce face up until they reach the finish line where they were given a deserved medal plus a water drink and of course a cold Alaska Milk in a tetra pack.

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Popular Parents of Competitive Kids

A while back in the swimming pool I espied a very tall and good looking guy.  He looks familiar but I cannot place him somewhere.  Then Rod Runner, my blogger companion, told me his is Danny Idelfonso, a retired professional basketball player.  That’s why it’s hard for me to recognize the familiarity, I am not really a basketball fan.  Anyway, the fact that he is here means he must have a kid participant.  Reading the results given to me after the event confirmed my suspicion.  A certain Sofia Daniela Idelfonso placed 3rd in the 9-10 age group category.  Indeed growing up to be like her famous dad.

It is in the run course finish/start line area where I saw Team Pangilinan, all family members I suppose, support their relay family team entry who won 3rd place despite being the youngest of all contestants.  This just shows how competitive and strong the children of Anthony and Maricel are!  Again a proof that competitiveness sure runs in the family.

Team Pangilinan enjoying the activities at the Finishline area.
Team Pangilinan enjoying the activities at the Finishline area.
Here is the complete Team Pangilinan as captured by the Photo Ops lenses.
Here is the complete Team Pangilinan as captured by the Photo Ops lenses.

Winners All!

The awarding ceremony came last with many podium takers, I learned from the organizers later, were frequent placers.  This surely means a bright future for Philippine triathlon scene.  Starting them young is the sure formula for coming up with top caliber athletes for our country.  Alaska, with its continuous support for years and years of the local sports scene, should be credited for all the wonderful programs and sponsorship it churns out to helping develop our local sporting community.  Indeed, “wala pa ring tatalo sa ALASKA!

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Going back to how naive I was, now I am ready to go back and train harder and be fierce, like these kids are!

Have a Sneak Peek of the Event and Feel the Excitement 

For much, much more fabulous and complete photo coverage of the event, go to the face book page of Photo-Ops.

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