From the start in the Seymour High School pool, to the last runner to hit the finish line outside Bulleit Stadium, the cowbells rang and cheers roared for the competitors.
Triathletes stick together from start to finish, whether it’s an Iron Man or a kids race.
The Boys & Girls Club of Seymour hosted its fifth annual Youth Triathlon on Saturday morning.
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Children ages 6 to 10 swam 100 yards, biked 2 miles, and ran a half-mile. Participants 11 to 14 swam 200 yards, biked 4 miles and ran 1 mile.
A total of 52 athletes competed in the events, with 33 taking to the field in the younger division.
Kendra Zumhingst organizes the event each year for the Boys & Girls Club and said there were 17 more athletes in attendance at this year’s race.
She said as the word gets out each year and more family members bring relatives, the race continues to grow.
Zumhingst said seeing the kids at the end of the race is what keeps her coming back to put on the event.
“I get emotional, which is why I always wear sunglasses,” she said. “When you see the last few coming in, you know that some of them wanted to quit, but they didn’t. For me, that’s why I do it. You see the heart in these kids.”
With near-perfect weather, no bike wrecks and no quitters in the race, Zumhingst said everything went without a hitch.
Zumhingst said while some of the kids get nervous at the beginning of the race, they show a lot of determination by the finish.
“They’re all afraid when they come in,” she said. “I sit them down and tell them that nothing bad is going to happen. I tell them if they get pooped out, then hold onto the rope and stand up. I joke with them that if they decide to sit on the bottom of the pool, these (lifeguards) will jump in after them, and they think it’s funny.”
Gage Mull kicked off the event with his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on an electric guitar before the kids jumped into the water.
The kids then funneled out into the high school parking lot to grab their bikes.
After that, they hit the road toward their medals.
Sam Wheeler won the 11 to 14 division with a time of 27 minutes, 12 seconds, followed by Grant Smith (27:57) and Clayton Greenawalt (29:43).
In the 6 to 10 field, a first-place plaque went to Brennan Perry (17:51), while Conner Schaefer (18:39) finished second and Micah Jablonski (18:59) took third.
Cash McNeely, 8, said his favorite part of the race was the swim.
“I swim every day. My grandpa taught me how to swim,” he said. “These (triathlons) are fun. I have a lot of friends here. I feel like I completed something, and it was a good feeling. The running was the hardest because you do the swimming and biking, and after that, you don’t have anymore energy.”
All of the athletes practiced twice a week for two weeks prior to the triathlon.
Zumhingst said it allows the kids to learn the course while also getting some exercise.
Volunteers, many of whom hail from the Seymour Multisport Club, helped make sure none of the athletes ventured off of the course during the race.
Seymour’s Lauren Dowell, 8, said she trained hard for her third triathlon.
“The running part was my favorite,” Dowell said. “I felt like that was my fastest. I like doing triathlons because they’re fun, and I get to meet people. I like to do it with my brother. We have a pool in our backyard, so I go swimming sometimes in there, and my mom helps me practice.”
Zumhingst said all of the fees go back to the Boys & Girls Club.