We, triwives, have been at this for many years, with kids and without and at all race distances. Having a triathlete in the family can be stressful and tough on the kids at any age. Creating an attitude of a healthy lifestyle with triathlons as a part of it can become your family time norm versus a stressor. Our Kids in Tow section of this blog will include many different ideas and our experiences to make managing this lifestyle a natural for you and your family. We will include information on family-friendly races, traveling made easier, from the kid’s perspective, and so much more. Our hope for you is that by following some of these helpful hints, everyone in the family can win on race day.
Let’s start with the local races.
We are sure many of you have spent your fair share of Saturday and Sunday mornings with kids in tow at your local race sites. MOST IMPORTANT POINT – Do no let your triathlete cross that finish line without all of you there; the benefits for the entire family are just too great. That triumphant athlete becomes a role model for teaching hard work, a healthy lifestyle, and a stick-with-it/can do attitude.
Here are our top 5 tips for local races with kids no matter what age:
1. Don’t go at 4:30 am with your triathlete. Pack up the kids and show up at the race just before T1 closes and your athlete has had time to hang out a bit and chill and chat with other athletes. Preset a meeting place and make sure you leave enough time for parking and walking with kids in tow. Also, make sure your triathlete sends you a text confirming the meeting place and if there have been any changes to the race site. Remember, they will not have their phone once they leave T1.
2. Don’t plan to do it all. Stay put if possible in the race area. Most local races try to keep the swim, bike, and run compact, so as to not negatively impact the city too much. This makes it easier to hang out in the race “village” area and near T1/T2, which allows the kids to see your triathlete and get high 5’s and kisses – no sweaty hugs please. Trying to get to a “viewing spot” on the course can be disappointing. Your athlete will whiz by after you just spent all that time trying to get there.
3. Be prepared. During the local tri season, we keep a tribag stocked, as it is also good for soccer games, 5Ks, and other family outings. Just like your athlete has a T1/T2 bag packed with special needs, you need them, too. It may be dark when you leave, but it won’t be for long, so be prepared,
Must haves in your tribag:
- Coffee/tea carafe filled to the top
- Breakfast to enjoy once your athlete leaves on the bike (watch our On The Menu section for meals on the go coming soon)
- Water bottles; most races will have a water filling station you can use
- Snacks, healthy snacks (frozen grapes and blueberries are a favorite), and more snacks
- A change of clothes for the crew
- A blanket to sit on; DO NOT try to bring chairs and other bulky items
4. Take advantage of what the race has to offer. While your athlete is out biking and running, set your watch to their expected times for viewing. (Have your athlete look at the course ahead of time and give you a list of mile markers and T1 and T2 viewing sites, with a range of times when you should be at each spot). Most races will have areas set up for the kids to play and often the vendors will offer them free giveaways. Let the kids collect it all, no matter what age. You will be surprised at how that cheap bead necklace will create pure joy – milk it!
5. Meet old and new tri friends. Seek them out! Look for other triathlete families with children the same age or older and start moving their way. Introduce yourself and let the kids take it from there. There is no need to be alone. Let the kids have fun with their new friends, but don’t forget to watch the clock, so you don’t miss your designated times. We promise you will have these tri friends all season!
Just remember – don’t forget to be at that finish line and ready to hang out after the race with your triathlete. The energy is amazing and the smiles on your kids’ faces will last a lifetime!
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR BRINGING THE KIDS ALONG TO A TRIATHLON?
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.