–By Ottawa Sportspage, for Bytown Storm Triathlon Club
A new generation of triathletes will get their start in a sport known for the age diversity of its participants with the Bytown Storm Kids of Steel Triathlon Series this summer.
First-timers are more than welcome to swim, cycle and run at the trio of Kids of Steel events, set to be held in Ottawa, Stittsville and Dunrobin.
“It’s an introduction to the sport of triathlon for kids of all ages,” underlines Bytown Storm club head coach Greg Kealey. “We try to reinforce fun and participation, and getting kids excited about being active.”
Starting with the under-7 division, the distance for the races increases alongside each two-year age group increment. Each event also includes a higher-level competition that’s part of the Youth Cup provincial series, which includes an introduction draft-legal racing for athletes age 14-15.
Each of the three local events has its unique features.
With an indoor pool swim out of the Goulbourn Recreation Complex, the July 18 Stittsville KOS competition offers the perfect chance to “try a tri”. Younger participants are welcome to use a flotation device for the swim.
Older age groups will be offered the local debut of a grand prix-style race, a format that features three shorter races (200-metre swim, 4 km bike, 1,200 m run) throughout the day.
“They do it a lot in Europe and it’s really popular,” notes Kealey, highlighting the focus on building speed, distraction control and recovery. “We’re really excited to bring it to Ottawa for the first time.”
The Aug. 20 Dunrobin KOS takes place in one of the most picturesque nature settings possible out of the Bonnenfant YMCA-YWCA Outdoor Education and Leadership Centre.
“It has become one of the destination races for the Kids of Steel series province-wide,” signals Kealey, whose club supports athletes’ further growth in the sport through skill development, including learning proper swimming strokes, how to bike efficiently and safely, and running form.
The Storm club is also the engine that drives the June 17-18 Ottawa Triathlon, a high-profile competition out of Dow’s Lake featuring races for all ages including a Kids of Steel event.
“The Ottawa event is actually an international race,” Kealey outlines. “On the Sunday, the kids will actually be able to see the elite athletes – about 170 of them from across the world, and Canada – race right after them on the same course.
“They’ll get to see what it’s like to be an elite athlete.”
There will be plenty of on-water support for the swim, the bike is down the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and the run alongside the Arboretum on courses closed to traffic, making it highly accessible for newcomers nonetheless – a guiding philosophy within the national Kids of Steel program.
“They’re coming out to have fun, and that’s really the idea behind the Kids of Steel program – to instil a passion for active and healthy living,” Kealey explains, noting many team sports experience participation drop-offs at certain ages, unlike triathlon. “People who enjoy running, cycling or swimming tend to do it lifelong into their 50s, 60s and 70s, and that’s a big part of what makes our sport so special.”