published: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Rock 'n Heartland to add third youth tri
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- There will be three Rock'n Heartland Youth Triathlons for young people in 2013 thanks to Julie's Funds for Kids and the support of the Thakkar Family Foundation, which is the title sponsor.
Lake Placid, Avon Park and Sebring will each host a race, which have no affiliation with the Heartland Triathlon. They are sanctioned by USA Triathlon.
Julie's Funds for Kids was created by Jeff Carlson to honor his wife Julie Carlson, who died in a tragic boating accident in 2010.
"I think what we've done with this," Carlson said, "is provide opportunities for kids to help them develop a healthy lifestyle."
The focus, he added is about health and fitness.
Originally Julie's funds underwrote the expenses of YMCA programs and camps for children who otherwise would not be able to attend.
Now Carlson, and those working with him, intend to broaden those opportunities, including extra funding for local youth sporting teams.
A continuation and expansion of the Rock'n Heartland Youth Triathlon Series that debuted in 2012, the 2013 races are the centerpiece of the foundation's effort to help children live healthier lives.
Two races were organized in the debut series, one in May, the other in August. The response to both was overwhelming.
Ninety-seven children turned out for the first race in May, 107 for the second in August. Roughly half the participants were local, the other half arrived from other parts Florida, out of state, even one from overseas.
The first of the Rock'n Heartland Youth Triathlon 2013 Series will be in April and take place at Lake June Park in Lake Placid.
The second race will be in May on the South Florida State College campus in Avon Park.
The third race is planned for Sebring, the time and place are still to be determined.
Triathlons are ideal for developing athletes and getting children into shape. Comprised of three portions, participants have to swim, cycle and run.
Distances change with age groups.
For example, beginners, who are 5- and 6-year olds, swim 25 yards, bike one mile and run a quarter of a mile; while seniors -- teens between 12 and 16, swim 200 yards, bike six miles and run a mile and a half. There are grades in between.
Preparing for a triathlon provides excellent conditioning. It enhances children's discipline and focus, helps them set goals, gets them away from television and video games, while creating an opportunity to meet new people.
Now is the time for young people to begin getting ready. Carlson urges families to join in the fun.
Visit www.facebook.com and search for Rock-N-Heartland-Triathlon.
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