Kids Summer Triathlon

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The Kids Summer Triathlon is an event put together by my husband for free, to encourage kids to have fun and be active. Sharing our tips below to put one together  yourself!

DIY Kids Summer TriathlonA Kids Summer Triathlon is all about exercise and FUN! If you don’t expose kids to different events, they may never know they enjoy it! That’s what putting together this triathlon event is all about. My husband is a triathlete, and has loved the sport for years.  Just before we got married, he participated in a half IRONMAN and has dreams of a full IRONMAN, but he sets that dream aside because the time commitment is not conducive for families (and a full-time job). Throughout our marriage, we have cheered him on in many, many races on a smaller scale, “GO, Daddy, GO!” is a favorite mantra we chant as he whizzes past us on a course. {This post was originally published on June 13, 2012, updated June 3, 2017}

When my boys were 8 and 6, he put on their first Tri at a neighborhood park down the street. It was just our family, but I’ve got the pictures to prove it! This was in 2008. My younger son rode a scooter because he wasn’t so skilled yet on a bike.

Kids summer triathlon

We’ve done a kids summer triathlon a few times with just our kids, but my husband wanted to expand the circle a little bigger. He invited a handful of friends with their kids to participate alongside our kids.

My husband also has a few great friends that also love the triathlon as well, and I snapped these pictures of the three of them at a race years ago:

The three dads were pumped to involve their kids in something they love.

This first year we did the kids summer triathlon with friends (2012), we had 12 kids participate. This post is mostly chronicling the race that year.

Here is how we broke down the age categories and distances for each segment:

  1. Group 1: Age 2-5, 10 meter swim (some had floaties), 1/2 mile bike, 1/6 mile run
  2. Group 2: Age 6-11,  50 meter swim, 2 mile bike, 1 mile run
  3. Group 3: Age 12+,  100 meter swim, 4.5 mile bike, 2 mile run

*Feel free to adjust this to your liking, depending on your location. He just took a general standard swim to bike to run ration from events he’s done in the past.

We stationed adults along the path, and even a water station part way through. The transition station was all set up, and we helped the kids prep the station with a towel on the ground to sit on, another towel to wipe off the feet, socks and shoes all laid out with helmet nearby.

How to hold your own kids summer triathlon, a few tips:

  •  Find a course that you wouldn’t have to cross roads, don’t want kids to run over roads
  • Parent volunteers are crucial, have parents with kids in a different category help stand on course directing
  • Pack plenty of water
  • Plan well fitting shoes, goggles, helmet
  • Transition station all set up
  • Sharpie Marker the arms and legs with age/race number
  • Trophy store for cool medals/finisher ribbons
  • Have each kid bring a towel to dry, and a towel to sit on
  • We made a PVC structure to hold the finish line initially, husband just built a wood one this year. I bought a cheap blank Vinyl mess up banner at local sign shop.

We are lucky to have a bike/run trail right by our neighborhood pool to accommodate those safety measures.

Photo tip: When photographing events, I always try to remember the details. {I have listed some of my image stats under the images. I used my 70-200mm zoom lens for all of these, and the lowest aperture on that lens is a 4.0 f stop, so that was the setting I kept it on for most of these.}

ISO 125 f4.0 ss1/320 (in shade)

In triathlons, they write the race number on your arm, and your age on your calf. The kids thought this was fun. We let the kids pick their own number for their shoulder.

ISO 250 f4.0 ss 1/160 in shade

We conducted a pre-race meeting to go over all the rules and regulations, and there was some excellent attentiveness!

I think the dads were the most excited for the race to begin.

And they’re off! The older group went first, while the younger kids watched. It was in this segment that I realized swimming for survival for my boys wasn’t enough. Yes, they know how to swim, but they had never had much formal training. The girls — who had swim training — literally blew them out of the water!


ISO 160 f4.0 ss 1/100

I love the shot below of my friends’ husband helping his daughter in transition.

There were 2 girls and 5 boys in the older group. The girls finished first and had a head start. Below, my boys fumbling to dress themselves. Having done a few triathlons myself, I know this part is tough.


ISO 160 f4.0 ss 1/500

My boys both HAD to wear green shirts this day to confuse all of you. I also realized that my boys have no gear shifts, and their bikes may be a tad small for them. I bought the helmets that morning because they didn’t want to wear Darth Maul and Jelly bean helmets in front of their friends. It was time.

ISO 160 f4.0 ss 1/800 full sun

I was running around a little and didn’t get much with the younger swimming. I did capture one of my daughter (see the top pic with title) and I love this transition shot, too, of dad video-ing while mom helped the little one transition. This cutie just finished kindergarten.

My friend took this pic with her phone, and I love it because it shows that I was there, and doing my favorite thing, snapping pictures of my kids.

This is the shot I was taking of my son. He’s got a big smile on his face because he knows … long distance running is his strength. Man, that boy has some great endurance and determination.

ISO 160 f4.0 ss 1/1000 full sun with some clouds

About the time my boys started to run, my daughter was getting out of the pool to transition.

Waiting while our kids are all on the course …

ISO 200 f 4.0 ss 1/400 in shade

This is nearing the end of the race when we saw the first few kids coming around the corner and we watched from afar. Cute girl in yellow was in the lead, but when I saw my running boy up close, I had an idea it might be in his favor. I took the trio below of them about to finish. It was SO close, and with about 100 yards to go, he slipped by her. She is the daughter of one of my closest friends, and we were standing by each other laughing — promising to love each other still … no matter what. 😉

ISO 200 f4.0 ss 1/400

My oldest skimmed just past her, it was very exciting to watch. My hubby made the finish line out of PVC pipes and a roll of art paper. I also love that I can see his age on his calf.

ISO 200 f4.0 ss 1/400

My second son came in a few minutes behind them. He had to stop a few times to tie his shoes, and I guess they were slipping off. Yeah, his weren’t the best running shoes, either. When my daughter came in with the second heat, I thought it was so sweet that my boys went to meet her and run the end with her.

ISO 160 f4.0 ss 1/1000

ISO 200 f4.0 ss 1/400

Fun was had by all.

ISO 200 f4.0 ss 1/500

Here is the final group of contestants, and below, a friend of ours went to a trophy store and got real medals for just over $2 each.

ISO 200 f4.0 ss 1/500 (in shade)

Overall, the Kids Summer Triathlon was a great day. The men were so happy to share a love of theirs with their children, the kids got some great exercise and understanding of what their dads love, and moms got to enjoy it, too! There will be some practicing for the end of the summer race.

Photo tips: To photograph an outdoor sports event in full sun, you will most likely be shooting on a 100-200 ISO. Your aperture can be set in one spot such as f2.8 or f4.0 and can stay there because you are mostly photographing 1-3 people at a time (I stayed at 4.0 the whole time because of my lens). Your shutter speed will be up high ranging from 1 /500 to 1/1000, maybe up to 1/2000. The shutter speed will vary, depending on the clouds coming and going, and that can get tricky. You just have to be aware of the light as it changes. Keep checking your LCD screen or histogram to make sure you are on track as the light changes. Set your focal point on the faces of those you photograph, and with movement, just make sure that shutter speed is high enough to accommodate (never under 1/125 for sports). I used my zoom lens 70-200mm 4.0 for all of the images.

Here are a few pictures of the race since 2012.

Kids Summer Triathlon June 2016:

Summer Triathlon

kids triathlon

Kids Summer Triathlon June 2017:

kids summer triathlon

kids summer triathlon

kids summer triathlon

kids summer triathlon

kids summer triathlon

How to put together a kids triathlon

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