Olympics inspire young athletes participating in triathlon race

Olympics inspire young athletes participating in triathlon race
Joe Gunthinger participated in the triathlon race and is now coaching other participants. (Source: WMBF News)
Joe Gunthinger participated in the triathlon race and is now coaching other participants. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - They are watching the games and participating in the week-long Myrtle Beach Triathlon at the Pepper Geddings Recreation Center.

Coaches say the kids are motivated even more because of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio, Brazil to do their best, and for many, this is a first-time experience.

Now in its eighth year, children participating in the triathlon are spending their week at camp getting prepared for the big race on Saturday, learning how to conquer the swimming, cycling and running events.

Former participant and now coach Joe Guthinger, who has been competing since he was 5, said the race pushes him to do his best.

"(You got to) push yourself, work hard to achieve your goals," said Guthinger, sixth-grade student.

Approximately 140 kids are competing in the triathlon. Sam Vititoe, camp coordinator, said event is all about having fun.

"We are getting them ready for what to expect on Saturday," Vititoe said.

The kids practice the actual bike route they will ride and the laps they will swim during the camp to get ready for the big day.

While training, they are watching the best in the world compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janerio.

"I've been watching gymnastics, swimming, and I'd like to watch running," said third-grader Annabelle Carroca, with a smile.

Vititoe said the games have made the camp much more exciting.

"The kids are even more excited because they are seeing things on television with the swimming and the biking, so when they get here they are already pumped up," he said.

The race distances are determined by age, with children 7 through 18 years old eligible to participate. The first part of the race includes a 100- and 200-yard swim in the indoor pool.

The, the children kids will race to the transition area to prepare for the bike and foot races.

"For me, my swim-to-bike transition is like 15 seconds because I got to put on my helmet because my shoes are already clipped on to my bike," Guthinger said.

The bike race is a 5K and 10K. Participants finish with another transition that includes dropping off their bike and equipment, and taking off on the foot race, which is 0.65 to 1.3 miles.

Participants are timed from start to finish. This year, the children have new devices that will help track each of their performances.

Vititoe said the camp and race are strictly about having fun, but the children also learn lifestyle traits that will not only prepare them for the triathlon, but also carry them into adulthood.

"This entire experience is about doing your best, and that's your best, not competing against anyone else, not competing against your sibling or the person next to you," Vititoe said. "It's about doing what you can do."

The triathlon race is Saturday, Aug. 13, at Pepper Geddings Recreation Center from 9 a.m to 12 p.m.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.