Midland's Tri-City Kids Triathlon 'fabulous' for all involved in second year

The Saginaw News Adam Bouton

Jared Hamilton | The Saginaw NewsTyler Naeyaert holds a wet towel on his head after finishing the Tri-City Kids Triathlon at H.H. Dow High School Saturday.

MIDLAND — Seven-year-old Ellie Coleman was the first competitor to cross the finish line Saturday morning with just over 18 minutes showing on the race clock.

Better than 220 other racers, ranging from ages 6 to 15 and having swam, biked and finally ran, followed her across the same line in the next 40 minutes.

All were greeted with a cold towel, a medal, and smiles and applause from the parents, volunteers and friends in attendance on a sunny morning at Dow High School.

In just its second year, the Tri-City Kids Triathlon improved upon its first year numbers, with over 250 registered athletes. Nearly 230 kids (and from as far away as Muskegon, Detroit and Ypsilanti) competed and finished the race.

“Today was fabulous,” race coordinator Jen Coleman said. “It’s only our second year doing this and I might get comfortable with it. Today, really was as well as we expected and it was a great experience.”

All the competitors started in various waves, beginning with the youngest entrees and finishing with the 14 and 15-year olds. All athletes swam at least one length in the Dow High School pool before changing, jumping on a bike and biking at least two miles and then finishing with a half-mile run on the Dow track.

Ellie Coleman and Nikolas Butcher each won in the six and seven age group. Alex Coleman and Katelyn Corrion finished in first place in the male and female groups for ages eight and nine. Mount Pleasant’s Andrew Harrast and Midland’s Madison Schwind stood on the tall blue, first place podium in the 10 and 11 age group, while Max Coleman and Hannah Fowler won the 12 and 13 group. Rounding out the first-place winners were Codi Eyre and Emily Wright, who each won their respective group in the 14 and 15 division.

Trophies were handed out for first through third place in each age division.

All of the kids, however, came away winners.

Parents and families greeted every kid as she or he left the track and everyone earned a medal, no matter what place. The volunteers were also abundant, as the purple shirt-clad group appeared at just about every corner of the course.

“My volunteers, two years in a row have come through for me,” Coleman said. “There are a lot of people without kids that are just here to help. It’s really neat that they come out and support like that.”

Four-time Olympian Shelia Taormina was on hand Friday night at the packet pickup and helped prepare the kids for the race Saturday.

“She really engages the kids,” Coleman said. “It was a great experience for all of them. She’s very open with her gold medal. She brought it, kids were trying it on, taking pictures, touching it. She’s very open and sharing with her experiences.”

Coleman hopes that 2011 could be even bigger.

“I would really hope to grow to 300 kids next year,” she said. “We had a new venue this year. We’re really happy that Midland Public Schools allowed us to be here. We hope that we’re invited back again next year.”