Devon Farrow of Sebring transitions from the swimming portion of the triathlon to the biking portion during last year's Heartland Children's Triathlon in Sebring. The annual event begins at 7:30 a.m. today at the Sebring City Peir.

Highlands Today sports staff

Published: June 18, 2011

SEBRING - The sixth annual Heartland Triathlon will begin today with the running of the ever-popular kids triathlon, for youngsters ages 6 to 14.

The younger kids will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the older competitors will hit the water at 8:15 at Sebring's City Pier Beach.

Junior kids (ages 6 to 10) swim 100 yards, bike three miles and run a half-mile; the older kids swim 200 yards, bike six miles and run one mile.

There are expected to be more than 130 participants in the kids event, which is a significant increase from the 80 who competed last year.

Last year's winners in the kids division were Cavan Wilson and Gabby Allen. Both competed as 10 year olds and will have to move to the senior kids division.

Kristlin Gear was the top finisher among the older kids, completing the course in a time of 20:22. But she entered as a non-official competitor, so the two fastest official times went to Kaitlyn Lowery and Summer Weaver.

Based on last year's times, the junior kids should be finished with their event before the older kids begin.

The adults will take to the course at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and be gunning for Santiago Ascenso's winning time last year of 58:04, which is the second-fastest winning time for the previous five events.

Kevin Grogan's 57:22 set in 2009 is still the best mark, although the bicycle ride was changed from 15 miles to 14 in 2008 and has been the shorter distance ever since.

Michellie Jones won the women's event in 1:02:18, placing third overall.

The number of expected entrants will be just shy of 500, which is also an increase over last year.

The event will consist of a quarter-mile swim, a 14-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run to end the event.

The adult triathlon will begin at 7:30 a.m. and there will be staggered starts until 7:58 a.m.

The Highlands Today sports staff can be reached at 386-5841.