A little more than a dozen youth competed in the 2011 Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Youth Triathlon on November 12 at the Salt River Community Building. On the cloudy Saturday morning, children gathered at the deck of the Salt River Pool to compete in a shortened version of the Ironman triathlon.
For the first leg, children swam 20 to 80 yards in the pool. Once out of the pool, they ran to their bikes for a 1.2-mile ride to the old Salt River Elementary School, which was across the street. After their ride, they went straight into a 0.4-mile run to the Salt River baseball field.
“I think the event is important for kids to see that any sport they choose will keep them healthy and hopefully inspire others within their community,” said Michelle Reina-Long, a member of the Salt River Tri-Athletes and former Ford Ironman participant. She explained that the youth triathlon shows the children they can accomplish anything when they put their heart, mind and soul into something they love. Reina-Long said she would like to see more triathlons in the Community and possibly some swimming clinics for the youth.
“I’m proud of all the kids who came today and gave this sport a ‘TRI,’” Reina-Long said. “Who knows, we might have a future Salt River Tri-Athlete in the group who could represent the Community in future Ironman events.”
The SRPMIC Youth Triathlon is an opportunity for Community youth to experience a triathlon in a fun, safe and non-competitive environment. It was established to help give youth a sense of pride in knowing that they completed a triathlon and to demonstrate that exercise is good and rewarding. It also might pique their interest for future triathlons.
The event is sponsored by Ford Ironman Arizona, the SRPMIC Kids Foundation and Chances for Children. Chances for Children provides the bikes and helmets, which are raffled off at the end of the event. The Salt River Tri-Athletes provides a bike for the raffle also. Red Rock Co. has helped with this event too.
“I liked the bike ride the best,” said Suonva Puhuyesva. “My family participates in bike rides and will also be in the Ironman Triathlon.” Puhuyesva won a bike in the raffle held at the end of the race.
Once they crossed the finish line, the kids were given finishers medals by 2011 Arizona Ford Ironman participants.