The gymnasium at the Greater Glenville YMCA was alive with cheering parents and the echoing squeaks of sneakers on hardwood floor.
“Go, go, go!”
“You’re doing so good!”
“Yay, look at you go!”
The 3- and 4-year-olds biking along the oval blue track were easily the most endearing scene Saturday from the 2013 Healthy Kids Day Kids Triathlon. Instead of looking fierce or competitive, like their adult counterparts often do at racing events, they looked wide-eyed and happily confused about all the excited adults around them.
One girl in a flower shirt and neon green leggings pedaled lackadaisically along the path, her training wheels offering little guidance, so that instead of maneuvering a corner adeptly, she ended up bicycling into a low-hanging punching bag strung up from the rafters. She wasn’t hurt, so the adults around her burst out in laughs.
“I like to ride bikes,” said 3-year-old Emily Silva of Ballston Lake.
Wisps of curly blonde hair clung to her forehead after her mother unbuckled and removed her helmet. With wide blue eyes and a short attention span, the toddler fidgeted in anticipation of what came next.
“I like going underwater,” she said, prompting her mom to explain they were moving on to the swimming portion next.
Shannon Silva heard about the Kids Triathlon from her sister-in-law, who works at the Glenville YMCA. On Saturday, kids across the country participated in the Y’s Healthy Kids Day, a national initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids. More than 1,900 YMCAs were expected to participate.
The Glenville branch’s Youth Development Committee spent an entire year planning its first-ever kids triathlon, and quickly learned local parents were eager to sign their kids up for the run-bike-swim event.
“I thought it was really cool,” said Shannon Silva. “I’m going to school for public health, so it makes sense to bring her out. A lot of times, we’ll take walks, and I try to get them outside a lot.”
In the Y’s warm pool room, goggled kids ages 5-7 lifted their arms in wobbly strokes and kicked up chlorinated water from one side of the 25-yard pool to the other. Moms and dads stood nearby, watching tensely for any signs of struggle.
One boy climbed out of the pool in tears, distraught at how labor-intensive 50 yards of swimming turned out to be. The boy on his other side climbed out and flashed his parents a giant grin between gasping breaths.
“There are a few things we’re going to make changes to for next year, but overall, the kids are having fun, and that’s first and foremost,” said Glenville YMCA Childcare Director Jennifer Bradt, who spent the morning scrambling among parents and events. “The parents are engaged, and that’s what we want.
“We actually had a very overwhelming response from the parents when they first heard about it. Once we reached 80 kids, we felt, for the safety of our first triathlon and the safety of the kids, we needed to cap it. But we could have had very well over 150 kids participate in this event.”
A police officer stood directing traffic on Droms Road, stopping cars intermittently to allow older kids to bike across the street, where they raced a horseshoe from Montclair Drive to Bellaire Drive. Kids returned, dropped their bikes and took off running down a wooded path lined with red balloons.
At the finish line, Colin Moorhead wore a bib with the slogan “I can tri,” and stood near the water table, fingering a purple ribbon. His first triathlon went pretty well. The 8-year-old will run and swim in his free time, but his ideal afternoon is spent biking with friends around town.
“The only hard part for me was probably the swimming,” he said. “I’m not used to swimming laps. I usually just swim for fun, but I think I did pretty good compared to the other kids.”