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The Olympics might be over but feats of speed and endurance will be on local display, when the Park District holds its first-ever Kids Triathlon on September 8th. The contest was conceived by Recreation Supervisor Rachell Entler but the idea has been kicking around inside the brain of Park Director Larry Piekartz for years. He said he would love to see it happen and told Rachell to just run with it.

Rachell prepared for the event by taking notes at seminars led by race directors. She also led a dedicated bunch of kids through practice sessions this summer every Saturday at 8:30 AM. The kids had a blast swimming, biking and running, though they found swimming an entire lap to be the biggest challenge. Part of the fun, though, was the 14-and-under crowd got to swim in the adult lap lanes for a change. They also rode their bikes at the Park, a practice that is normally forbidden.

For the triathlon, the 7-10 age group will swim one lap (fifty yards), bike 2.5 miles through the Park and down blocked-off Harrison Street. They will finish with a half mile run (5.5 laps around the soccer field).

The distances will double to swimming two laps, biking five miles and running a mile for the 11-14 year-olds. There will be separate divisions for boys and girls, with medals being awarded to the top three finishers. So far, twenty participants have signed up but Rachell hopes to double that. Flyers will be sent home through the schools. Rachell has been fielding a lot of calls from parents who are interested. Some aren’t sure their kid can complete the triathlon but her own seven-year-old has been able to finish the course. Last-minute registrants will be welcome.

The cost to compete is $38 but that can be defrayed by a five-dollar coupon. The kids will also receive goody bags containing gifts from sponsors, like Brown Cow, Louie’s Grill and the Competitive Foot. The triathlon will start off at 8 a.m. Rachell is hoping to get more adult volunteers to help out with the competition.

They will be needed for registering the kids, helping the younger ones with the difficult transition from swimming to biking and for timing the events. Rachell would like to have volunteers stationed throughout the Park, in case there’s a mishap, like someone wiping out on their bike.

The emphasis, though, will be more on the thrill of victory than the agony of defeat. Groups will be sent out every fifteen minutes and the whole thing should be finished by 1:00 p.m. This will give adults plenty of time to make it to Ribfest. Those who would like to register, donate, or volunteer can call Rachell at (708) 366-7500, ext. 17, or e-mail her at rentler@pdofp.org.