Some of the top young triathletes in the country will be participating at the PLAYTRI festival on June 2nd in Irving, Texas. The days events will include an F1 draft legal developmental race for youth ages 12 to 15, along with the EDR and Elite races. Top athletes include; USA Olympic team qualifier Manuel Huerta, 2011 USAT Elite Athlete of the Year Kevin McDowell, 2011 World Junior Champion Lukas Verzbicas, and 2011 USAT Rookie of the Year Kelly Whitley. All events will take place at Lake Caroline at Marriott Las Colinas, 223 West Las Colinas Blvd. Irving, TX 75039
Good stuff from a good dad. Way to go Mike and Bella!
Expose your kids to the world of Multi sport.
This afternoon was one of those moments in life I live for; one of those days that I’ll never forget. It might have been cold, rainy and windy but that did not stop my 9 year old daughter Bella and I from going out for a little 2 mile run. As a multi sport athlete myself I have taken time to expose my daughter to this and get her involved get her to love swim, bike, run as much as I do. I can’t really think of a better way to spend time with family than getting some exercise and teaching your kids the great benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Of course our little workouts always come with a treat at the end which makes it even more special. Like today we went to Caribou for a hot coco and…
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New TRI Team in College Station is rocking and rolling!
May 6th, 2012
Our team represented themselves as honorable competitiors at the first USAT Regional Youth Series Race of the season. Hosted at the JCC/TKC Family Triathlon, this race was in its fourth season; however, the directors and volunteers had never seen such a competitive field of youth triathletes and were a bit overwhelmed with the level of competitiveness and speed of the triathletes. There were more competitive youth triathletes then there were participatory athletes.
We are very proud of our team members with how they conducted themselves and overwhelmingly supported each other during the race. The race video captures this wonderfully and it can be seen on our 2012 Videos page.
It was great to compete against notable triathletes such as: Nicolas & Andres Restrepo, Kaytlynn & Heather Welch, Mateo Shanahan, Raul Luzardo, Olivia Howard, and Helene Farris to name a few. On a team front, it was fun to…
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ICON Multisport summer youth triathlon camps are open for registration. Join Level 3 USAT coach Shelly O’Brian in Kerrville, Texas for an opportunity to swim, bike and run with some of the best young triathletes in the country at her SELECT camp for youth ages 15 to 19. The SKILLS camp is open to kids ages 11 to 19 who want triathlon skills training in a summer camp environment.
A high percentage of youth triathlons start with a bang but never see their second year. Why is this?
The high costs associated with executing a youth triathlon is the top reason and I will expand on that later. Organizer and volunteer burnout is another reason. If you expect that your kids TRI will raise money for your organization, think again. You would be better off having a bake sale or a 5K. If you are lucky enough to have a large sponsor who can underwrite a large part of the fixed costs, you just might be able to squeak out a profit.
Starting with proper expectations is key. If you have a limited budget, think about an aquathlon as a way to begin. A kids tri seems like a great idea right? You promote a healthy lifestyle for kids and raise some money, everyone should want to help out; right? Wrong. As a race director, do not expect everyone to share your passion and enthusiasm for the sport. If you are uncertain, start small. An aquathlon is a great way to introduce kids to multisport while at the same time, it keeps the costs low and planning is pretty minimal. If you ok with having a participatory triathlon without timing and awards, this can also be done at a reduces cost. If you go forward with a full-scale youth triathlon with full timing & awards then keep reading and I will try to offer some tips on how to improve your chances for a successful event that can last for years to come.
Where to swim, bike and run – Venue considerations
Swim – Finding a proper host location for your youth triathlon may sound easier than it is. I would strongly recommend avoiding open water swims until you have the basic experience of directing races in pool swims. Open water venues may provide some added excitement with wave starts. But they also bring a whole different set of considerations and potential problems. Including but not limited to: 1) Ensuring safe entry and exit into the water 2) additional rescue and lifeguard personnel along with proper equipment such as kayaks, boats, etc.. 3) Additional water testing measures to make sure the water is safe for swimming. Only a seasoned race director should attempt to conduct a triathlon with an open water swim. A pool swim is a better alternative for a kids triathlon. A recreational pool with 25 yard/meter or 50 meter lanes than can accommodate a 200 meter swim will suffice. If you choose to follow USAT swim distances, you will be looking at a 100 meter swim for ages 7 to 10 and 200 meters for ages 11 to 15. It is preferable to have enough lanes to allow for one way traffic allowing kids to swim one way in the lane and pass on the left if needed, then go under the rope and come back the opposite direction. The pool deck should allow for a seamless exit from the pool with no steps down or up. This area will be wet and slippery so use carpet to prevent slipping.
Transition – A word about bike racks. Ideally, you should have assigned bike spaces for each participant or at a least have assigned areas by age group. Metal bike racks from adult triathlons will also work for a kids triathlon for most of the kids. The youngest will have trouble lifting their bikes to hang on the racks so you can choose to have special racks that shorter or just have an area taped off for the bikes with a kickstand. A properly labeled transition area with well-trained volunteers is essential to prevent confusion and encroachment as athletes and parents jockey for the best spot. You will see all types of bikes during a kids triathlon. Road bikes, mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, and others that don’t quite fit in any class. Make sure you specify that all bikes be in good condition with at least one working brake. If an injury occurs at your event, odds are it will be on the bike course. Identifying problems as your kids set up their spot can prevent problems later on.
Bike – Assuming that you use a pool for the swim part of you race, the bike course will be the most difficult piece of the puzzle as you assemble your kids TRI course. Adult races most often feature “open bike courses” that while offering have some traffic control at key intersections, they are essentially open to motor traffic. We can expect and warn our adult athletes to know and abide by traffic laws, but it isn’t reasonable for us to expect kids to know a bike course several miles long. I am a strong proponent of “closed bike courses” for all youth triathlon events. Imagine your kid racing bikes on a city street and the risks associated with this activity. This is an unacceptable situation and a single accident between a child and a vehicle during a race is unacceptable. While USAT sanctioning rules do not prevent an “open bike” course, I believe that this is an oversight. I have witnessed cars waiting at intersections honking at my kids as they raced by on the street. During your race, you can expect to have 8 and 9 year olds averaging upwards of 20 miles an hour on their bikes. All precautions should be in place to prevent accidents. Your bike course should not occur on streets than cannot be closed entirely to motor traffic. This includes streets with private driveways since you cannot limit someones access to their own home or property. Work with your local municipality and police department to find a suitable bike course that is next to a pool. Look at local colleges, city or state parks, schools and other locations closed on Saturday or Sunday. Your bike course will most likely be 2, 3 or 4 miles long. Try to cut multiple loops for younger kids. This will cause problems and you will find there is no foolproof way to verify the number of loops they ride. Since you will have a “closed bike course” you should plan on clear signage at all turns or turn arounds. All corners should have volunteers and my recommendation is that you have enough volunteers so that the kids will be in sight of a volunteer.
Run – The home stretch.
Ideally your run course should not cross curbs and take place on smooth and even pavement, grass or crushed stone. You should offer some type of aid station at the beginning of the run course with water and/or sports drinks. It must be well marked and give ample room to pass on in the case of an out and back course, room for two-way traffic.
Ouch – Safety, Insurance and Liability Issues
The entity that operates the triathlon is an important consideration. If you are working in a non-profit, your organization should have some general liability insurance policy that may extend coverage to special events. Check with your agent. Should you decide to sanction your event with USAT, you will pay a fee and complete a sanctioning application. This application will require that you follow and adhere to USAT guidelines and rules as part of the sanctioning process. This online sanctioning guidelines serves as a useful checklist and provides some basic steps as you plan and execute your event. Each of your athletes must be a USAT member to compete in your event in order for you to gain the insurance protection. USAT memberships are $15 annually or $10 for a special one day permit. USAT insurance will cover race operations, the race director, volunteers and the host facility as long as the sanctioning requirements are followed. It doesn’t cover advertising injury or your operations as you plan and market your event. For more information visit http://www.usatriathlon.org/audience/race-directors/insurance.aspx
Should you decide not to sanction your event with USAT, a private insurance policy can be purchased from an insurance company. Expect to pay between $300 and $1000 depending on the size of your event. A word about waivers. While waivers are useful in proving in court that a plaintif was advised of the risks associated with a particular activity, no waiver will protect you should something go wrong. Expect an attorney to argue that you were negligent even if you feel you were not. As a rule, have the correct entity operating your triathlon; most likely a non-profit, LLC or corporation and take steps to secure the right kind of insurance for your event.
Money Money, Can we afford to do this – Budget considerations
Many large adult triathletes are very profitable with high-priced race fees and large sponsorships. Race fees for kids races will be between $20 and $50 and sponsorships will be more difficult to secure. This gives you less revenue. At the same time, kids triathlons are arguably more expensive to produce since you need more volunteers and a closed bike course (see above). I have attached a basic budget to give you some idea about what to expect:
|Income||Qty||Cost per unit||Total|
|Item||Qty||Cost per unit||Total|
|Bibs and bike stickers||300||$2||$450|
|Signage / Printing||1||$1,000||$1,000|
|PA and equipment rental||1||$250||$250|
|Trophies top 3 per age||60||$4,5,6||$300|
|Shirts for participants||300||$6||$1,800|
|Shirts for Volunteers||30||$6||$180|
|Fruit and snack at finish||300||$2||$600|
Show me the money – How to find sponsors
Money can solve most of your problems and take your event to the next level. Having said that, finding sponsors that share your enthusiasm will be harder than you think. Prepare a list of prospects to talk to. Work with relationships that you have with businesses in your town. Visit them in person and do not rely on email. Hospitals, Car Dealers, Fitness Professionals, Pediatric Dentist, Pediatrictions are all excellent possibilities. Prepare a professional sponsor packet and personally meet with each prospect to specify the tangible benefits to their business. Look for media sponsors than can trade TV, Radio or Newspaper exposure in lieu of sponsorship dollars. This will be a valuable commmodity to your title sponsor. Look for parents that have kids involved in triathlon and own businesses in your town. Look for sponsors that are align with the goals of your event and organization. Think of it as advertising dollars that your sponsors are spending vs. just a donation. Justify it as a good business expense and work to give them a return on their investment.
There is no I in team – Where to find qualified and committed committee members
It will take a dedicated and trained team of people to plan, organize and run your event. Here are the key positions along with job descriptions.
Event Director – Oversees entire event. Provides vision, delegation and supervision of other team members.
Race Director – Establishes race course and conducts race operations. Provides oversight and direction to swim, bike, run, transition and safety coordinators.
Registration and marketing coördinator – Publicizes event and establishes the method of registration. Manages communication process with participants and provides participant list to timing company.
Safety Coordinator – Key person thinking only about safety. Coordinates with on site medical team and coordinates crisis communication.
Volunteer coordinator – Recruits, organizes and trains race day volunteer staff.
Aid station/Hospitality coordinator – Ensures that adequate aid stations are stocked and maintained on the course. May also handle post event food and drink.
Announcer/Awards Coordinator – Handles awards, finisher medals and announcements at pre race orientation meeting. May also announce kids as they finish the race. Organizes podium and awards proceedings.
Spreading the word – Marketing on the cheap
Since this is your first year, getting the word out about your event is critical. Plan on doing more marketing in your first year than you will need to in later years. Here are some FREE IDEAS: Utilize social media by creating a facebook page to promote your event. Contact all the swim teams and triathlon teams in your area and offer discounted registration for those that can bring 10 or more kids. See if your school district will allow you to place event flyers in the kids folders that they take home to mom and dad each week. See if the local TV and radio stations will create a PSA type commercial advertising your event. Contact the local newspapers and magazines and see if they will consider doing a public interest story on your event. Forge alignments with the local YMCAs, girl scouts, fitness professionals, etc… and create training programs that lead up to your event. Offer free clinics to help prepare the kids (and parents) for what to expect at their first triathlon.
The little things make all the difference
In my next blog I will talk about race operations and the small things that make all the difference in making your event a memorable, fun and inspirational event!