AUGUSTA — The first wave of barefooted children sprinted out the back door of the Kennebec Valley YMCA dripping pool water, as camera wielding-parents chased after them.

After quick wipe-downs with towels and the wrangling of socks and shoes over wet feet, the 6- and 7-year-old kids pedaled away on bikes for a nearly mile-long ride.

The young athletes finished Saturday’s race — the KV YMCA’s first kids triathlon — with a three-tenths of a mile run and participation medals around their necks.

The first annual Capital Y Tri included the youth triathlon for 55 kids ages 6 to 12, and an adult triathlon that began a little earlier in the morning with 72 participants.

Mark Yerrick, executive director of the KV YMCA since 2008, said he’s always had the goal of hosting a triathlon in the community.

“It’s really about bringing the community together for health,” he said.

Yerrick said they plan on hosting the triathlon, which raised money for the YMCA, every year. One change for next time could be separating the youth and adult races, so the youth event can be held near the end of the school year, Yerrick said.

The adult race included a 425-yard swim, an 11-mile bike ride along Route 201, and a 5-kilometer run on the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

Yerrick, who greeted some of the youth runners with participation medals as they finished, said part of the reason for the kids triathlon is to encourage them to be healthy.

“It’s about keeping kids active,” he said. “It’s not about competition.”

Yerrick said the races hit on the three areas of focus for the YMCA — youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Around 90 volunteers helped out at the races Saturday, and a committee had met weekly for the past five months planning the event, Yerrick said. Police officers from Augusta, Hallowell and Farmingdale also assisted during the bike race.

Yerrick said his favorite parts of the race day were seeing all of the community members at the event and putting smiles on the kids’ faces when they cross the finish line.

“Even with the adults, the adult race, we had a few people coming here this morning that are just excited,” he said. “Their first triathlon — never done one before, never thought they could — and they get it done.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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