It’s about getting kids out, and having fun, Greg Bushman said.
For the first time, Ottawa will be the host site of a USA Triathlon-sanctioned kids triathlon. The Ottawa Optimist Club Midwest Iron Kid Triathlon is set to begin 7 a.m. Sunday at Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St., Ottawa. With more than 70 participants ages 3-17 already signed up, the race is shaping up to be a success in its inaugural year.
“Our goal for this year was 50,” Bushman, race director, Ottawa, said. “We were told by other directors, for a first-year triathlon, if we got 50 that would be a great success and then we could build on it from there.”
But many more than that are anticipated to fill the park come early Sunday morning. Participants as far reaching as Wichita, Kansas City, Emporia and even one from Dallas, Texas, are planning to attend, Bushman said.
The race is set up in three legs — swimming, biking and running — and is separated into four divisions: TriKids mini course, ages 3-5 (non-competitive event, 25-yard swim/walk, three-quarter-mile bike, quarter-mile run); junior course, ages 6-8 (50-yard swim, 1.5-mile bike, half-mile run); intermediate course, ages 9-10 (100-yard swim, three-mile bike, three-quarter-mile run); long course, ages 11-17 (200-yard swim, six-mile bike, 1.5-mile run).
All biking and running routes are within the park, with the exception of the intermediate and long course bike routes, which start in the park, head south on the Prairie Spirit trail and finish back in the park. Full course maps are available on the race website, www.midwestironkid.com
All divisions are set to start at 7 a.m. with check-in and equipment placement beginning at 6 a.m. Sunday at the park. Participants must attend a mandatory pre-race orientation and packet pickup 7 p.m. Friday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 401 W. 13th St., Ottawa. Registration for the race ends Friday night, according to the race website.
No vehicles will be allowed inside the park before or during the race, and parking will be available at Kansas State Bank, 236 N. Main St., Ottawa, according to the race website.
The two goals for the race, Bushman said, were to get kids out doing something fun, and raise funds for the Ottawa Optimist Club and its campaign for childhood cancer patients.
“We are raising money for the cancer camps that the Optimist Club puts on for kids with childhood cancer,” he said. “You can send these kids to the camps at no cost, they spend a week away from their parents, allowing the kids a chance to be kids, get out of the hospital and be with other kids, and have a great time during the summer.”
The idea for the race came after Bushman’s daughter, Kendall, 6, Ottawa, became involved in triathlons. After seeing how much fun all the kids had at races, Bushman decided Ottawa would be a perfect host site.
“The more I thought about it, it seemed like Forest Park in Ottawa would lend itself to something like this very well,” he said. “I started thinking about it, and, along with some other folks, we decided to put one on. We got with Ottawa Optimist Club, and that’s how we got started. We got with the [Ottawa Recreation Commission], and came to an agreement about using the pool. The City of Ottawa has been wonderful to work with, closing off the park for us. It has all gone very smoothly.”
Not long after the wheels started turning, the race was asked to be added to the Midwest Youth Triathlon Series, which includes two other area races — JCC Youth Triathlon, TRiKC Longview Jr. Triathlon — and a grand finale, JCPRD U Kids Triathlon.
“We were very happy to be invited — being a first-year triathlon, “ Bushman said. “The youth triathlon, as a sport, has really gotten very popular over the past five or six years. It really spoke to me as far as getting kids out, and in an activity. It’s activities that kids love to do, and put it all together and you’ve got a sport that’s really good for the kids of Franklin County.”