Let’s give it to the children to give the necessary inspiration the much “seasoned” adults needed. An example is yours truly. How many times had I encouraged myself to give aquathlon a go! If others are daunted by the fact that they do not know how to swim, I am held back by the fact that I needed to swim with a swarm of able bodied males with nothing on but my skimpy two-piece swimsuit! Charot! I don’t want my fragility and decency to be violated within the confines of a 50×25 meter and 5 feet deep pool! Kidding aside, all I need is simply an inspiration and a jolt of realization that if these kiddos as young as 6 years old can do it, so can a pretentious virginal bi-sport athlete wannabee more than 7 fold their age!
That’s precisely what I got one early morning watching kids from the seemingly just out of toddler stage to the self-concious and ackward adolescent ones participate in Alaska Ironkids aquathlon. The older age groups, 11-12 and 13-14, were already off and running when we arrived. The 9-10 aged ironkids, on the other hand, are readying themselves by doing some off water stretching under the watchful eyes of their respective coaches or warm up pool lapping.
Coach Annie Brown is the one in-charge of giving out instructions on swim direction, number of laps, pool etiquette, manner of doing the turns, etc., before giving the kids a few minutes to warm-up and gathering them once more to signal the gunstart. Here I saw varying proficiency but what is constant is that determination to complete the distance. There are some, mostly in the 6-8 group, who could barely do a proper breathing technique but won’t stop unless they reached the end side of the pool albeit slowly. For the more advanced, intense competition ensued but all in the spirit of sportsmanship which is admirable given their ages.
After the swim came the run leg. This after they pass through a transition station where the boys put on shirt, shorts if deemed necessary and running shoes. The girls can make do with their tri or swimsuits and running shoes. They will pass through the grounds of The Village in loops depending on the required distance before going for the finishline.
In the 6-8 age category, I espied a more heavy set boy running towards my group of bloggers/spectators. At his back and positioning to overtaking him is a cute little caucasian girl with her curly golden blonde hair flowing behind her. Upon realizing that one cute little girl just “chicked” him, he made an all out effort to run after her for almost 200 meters but only to stop in his tracks catching for breath. The little girl stood her ground and left the poor boy eating her magical dust!
Going back to the finishline, I can see proud and excited parents eagerly awaiting their little ones to finish the race. Armed with hydration bottles in one hand and face towel in the other, they crowded the finisher’s area proving to be the marshals’ headache. Well, knowing how parents. can be hardheaded most of the times! With shining medals in their necks as proof of being aquathletes, these ironkids proudly make a beeline towards their respective parents to “demand“ their hard earned kisses and embraces with matching ice cream and chocolates, naturally.
Throughout the area of this BF Homes country club, one can see families in groups sharing moments and bonding with their ironkids. A shade and some grassy area are good enough nooks for stretching those tired legs and body while their moms or dads wipe the sweat off their backs and change their shirts and shorts. Some refreshments and fast foods were shared with gusto like having some impromptu picnic. The athmosphere is friendly and relaxed after some fierce competition that just ended. How communal and family oriented an experience Alaska Ironkids was!