Young athletes bike, run and swim for healthy habits

shane@shanesnider.comAugust 19, 2013 

Liam Schaffroth, 6, takes a long stride past spectators during the running portion of the Kids in Training triathlon in Cary on Sunday, Aug. 18.

SHANE SNIDER

— On a typical Sunday morning, 14-year-old Neeva Young might watch a little TV and relax.

So as she pedaled her bike and gasped for breath, her parents cheering her on along the way, it was clear this was no ordinary weekend.

More than 200 kids ages 5 to 17 biked, swam and ran through a triathlon course at Carpenter Village on Sunday morning. The annual event, hosted by local nonprofit Kids in Training, aims to promote healthy habits and fight childhood obesity.

Bruce and Dana Young encouraged their daughter to participate to help her burn off some youthful energy.

“We just have to keep her moving,” Bruce Young said, clapping as his daughter passed by on a bike.

“It was good for her to have a goal,” he said. “She trained knowing this was coming up. It gave her motivation to get out there and work hard.”

That’s exactly what organizers had in mind: They hope that getting kids active for an event promotes physical activity beyond race day.

And training is necessary – it’s no easy feat.

Participants swam a few laps in the community pool, took laps around the neighborhood on their bikes and then set out for some foot action.

For Jared Eytcheson, 14, the hard work paid off. He used the race to train for a national IronKids Triathlon. He crossed the finish line first in his age group.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Eytcheson, who is following in the footsteps of his father, a marathon and triathlon athlete.

“But he’s a lot better than me,” Mark Eytcheson said of his son.

Race director Maylene Jackson said the competition isn’t all about finishing first.

“Building character is way more important than winning,” she said. “Winning is a nice accomplishment. But building character and overcoming adversity is going to help you out a lot more in life.”

Before the race, Nellie Tehrani gave a pep talk to daughter Nikki and friend Kylie Clemens, both 10.

“It’s important for us to encourage our kids to stay active,” Tehrani said. “They have a great time training for this, and they pick up some healthy habits along the way.”

Some of athletes who finished the race early met up with family to cheer on other competitors.

Sabrina Morse, 17, was there to see her 14-year-old sister, Isabella, compete.

“It’s fun and good for you,” she said. “It’s just a good community event. It’s just sad because I used to do these – makes me feel old.”

Their father, Erik Morse, said he was happy all three of his children became involved with the organization and the event.

“It’s good because they don’t make it all about winning,” he said. “For me, it’s about doing this as a family.”

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