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Kids’ and Teens’ Triathlon returns to Shanklin Park for 18th year

Jul. 9—GOSHEN — For the 18th year, kids and teens of all ages were swimming, biking and running throughout Shanklin Park in Goshen Saturday for the annual Kids’ and Teens’ Triathlon.

Over 200 kids aged 5 to 18 competed during a beautiful morning to be outside.

“We started this event 17 years ago to instill in kids the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and making good choices for their health,” Goshen Parks and Recreation director Kimberlee Stephens said.

This year’s group of 203 kids started out in the pool, swimming from one end to the other before their parents assisted them in getting changed and ready to speed away on their bikes.

Once they finished with the biking course, the kids hopped off and ran to the finish line nestled next to one of the baseball diamonds within Shanklin Park’s campus.

Waiting for them at the finish line was an array of cheers and someone putting a medal around their necks to celebrate the achievement.

The event itself has grown immensely in the nearly two decades since its inception.

According to Stephens, around 80 kids participated in the first year, and as many as 300 kids have competed in the past. Last year, around 200 kids were in the event following its cancellation in 2020 due to COVID. Stephens hopes the numbers will continue to climb once again in the future.

“It usually ranges between 200 and 300 each year,” Stephens said. “The numbers are still trying to recover a little bit from COVID, and sometimes, when the event falls on this week of Fourth of July, some families travel. That’ll sometimes impede the number. But every few years, the Fourth of July doesn’t fall on this week, and it seems like our numbers are up at that time.”

Putting together an event like the triathlon takes a lot of work behind the scenes from multiple groups of different people.

From volunteers to the parks and recreation staff, there are tons of hands working to help the event run as smoothly as possible.

“We plan months and months, if not a year in advance for this event,” Stephens said. “We have our entire seasonal staff working, and that’s anywhere from 50 to 80. That doesn’t include all of our full-time staff, plus we usually have anywhere from 10 to 20 volunteers from different companies that sponsor us, like Welch, and the Kerry’s Kids Foundation. So we have a lot of help.”

The event itself is more than just for fun. Everything is professionally timed, with the kids donning ankle bracelets to keep track of where they finish.

The top finishers are presented with trophies at the end of the triathlon.

Families from all over the area come out to enjoy the event, and this year was no different.

Justin Gillette, of Goshen, who isn’t a stranger to competitive running in his own right, brought his two kids, Miles and Jasmine, to Shanklin. Both kids have competed in the event a number of times.

“This is the third time my kids have done the triathlon,” Gillette said. “It’s really nice because you can see them progress in their abilities as they age, and as the distances get longer. It’s a neat community event, and you see a lot of high school and middle school kids out here cheering on their younger siblings.”

The triathlon is a well-organized community event that promotes a great opportunity for kids to get outside and be active. It’s an event that Stephens plans on continuing for many years into the future.

“We’ll keep continuing to do it and keep growing it as long as there’s interest,” she said.

Evan Lepak can be reached at [email protected] or 574-533-2151, ext. 240326. Follow him on Twitter @EvanMPLepak.