Victoria's future ironmen compete in triathlon

Aug. 20, 2011 at 3:20 a.m.

An archway of red, white and black balloons tucked between the Victoria Fine Arts Center and the Victoria Aquatics Center was a welcome sight. For people like Stephen Clements. It represented the finish line for his first triathlon.

Clements, 13, was one of nearly four dozen boys and girls who participated in a triathlon geared for children Saturday morning in Victoria. Boys and girls as young as five were excited, but breathless, as they swam, biked then ran toward the ballooned finish line.

The 46 participants had a choice in what distance they would attempt. The Itty Bitty's did a 20-meter swim, half-mile bike ride and quarter-mile run. The mid-sized marvels swam 50-meters, a mile on their bikes and a half mile run. Then there were those like Clements who were Big, Bold Beasties.

"It's a lot of fun, it's a good way to get in shape," Clements said of his 100-meter swim, two-mile bike ride and 1-mile run. "I thought I was going to get really tired on the bike, but I had a ton of fun."

Saturday's event sprouted from a conversation Julie Kalloman had with Missy Janzow. A few calls to Debi Mease and Ralph Escalona with the Victoria Independent School District and things quickly came together.

Janzow held a two-day triathlon camp Thursday and Friday so children could get comfortable with the three disciplines. It was at that time she realized the ripple the event created.

"When we had 30 kids show up the first day of camp, I said 'Uh-Oh," said Janzow, who only ordered 50 T-shirts for triathlon participants. "I am excited that this many kids turned out. I think they really enjoyed it."

The three Immenhauser children Willie, Alec and Hannah certainly had a good time.

"We wanted to encourage them to do it. Willie was on the swim team, I train on Swim Bike Run of Victoria so when I heard about it I thought it would be good for the kids," said their mother Marie Immenhauser. "It challenges their body and it challenges them mentally. It makes them think of more than one thing, which is good for them."

Hannah, 6, said she woke up early Saturday because she wanted to get stronger. She flashed a big smile while talking about how much fun she had swimming in the Itty Bitty competition. Though running was hard, Hannah said she wants to do another triathlon.

Unbeknownst to Willie, 11, he shares his Tuesday birthday with another participant. Grace Spinks will turn 10 Aug. 23.

Grace's parents bought her a bike for her birthday. She was given the present a few days early so she could use it in Saturday's triathlon. Even at the end of the race, rode around the parking lot on her cream-colored bicycle.

Like Hannah running was the most difficult discipline for Grace, but she got to compete with her friends, so she was all smiles.

"I would tell them its fun," Grace said. "I got to do it with my friends."



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