Race director Lauren Downie talks excitedly about this weekend’s Beat Feet Youth Triathlon — specifically how much fun the kids who participate are having.

And yes, Downie is well aware fun is not the top image that comes to mind when people think of triathletes.

“They’re kids, so activity is still play,” she said. “It’s just adults. We’re the ones that complicate stuff. The kids are playing. They’re riding bikes, they’re playing in a pool, they’re jogging on the sidewalk, stuff like that.”

The sixth annual edition of the race begins at 9 a.m., Saturday at the Alfond Municipal Pool on North Street in Waterville. The triathlon includes a swim, a bike, and a jog. For more information, the event’s website is http://www.beatfeetkids.com.

The lengths of each event are determined by age. Ages 4 to 6 are the “Honey Bears,” ages 7-10 are the Bear Paws, and ages 11-15 are the Grizzly Bears. Each participant gets a T-shirt and a medal.

“We also have an unofficial Baby Beat Feet division,” Downie said. “Right off from our first year in 2008, we had some spectators who weren’t old enough to race, but they knew that they weren’t old enough to race. They would get really bummed out. So we let them jump in the pool as a kickoff with Mom and Dad.”

Registration is $20 per child, or $15 if there is more than one child in the family. There is no same-day registration. Online registration is available until Friday evening at the Beat Feet kids website.

Downie said some parents are leery about whether their children can finish the race. She encourages them to register their child anyway, so the child can decide whether he or she wants to race or help out with the race. Downie said her 6-year-old son, Jayden, either races or helps each year.

“Then definitely the year after that, they know where they want to go,” Downie said. “They either want to race, or they really enjoyed helping, and either way, they’re participating in something healthy that’s bettering the community.”

According to Downie, 106 children competed in the triathlon last year. She’s hoping for similar numbers Saturday.

“My favorite part would be pulling the trigger, because it means that the race has started, all the work is done, and it’s the fun part,” Downie said. “The kids take off, the excitement is there, the crowd is buzzing, and the kids are excited. I just get chills every year. Then when the first kid crosses the finish line every year, I get all choked up. I start to cry.”

* * *

The Bond Brook 5K Trail Race Series in Augusta is halfway through the season. The series is taking a break this week, but resumes Aug. 22, followed by races on Aug. 29, Sept. 12, and Sept. 19. The two August races are at 6 p.m., and the two September races begin at 5:30 p.m.

Race director Karen Gross said the average turnout was about 40 runners per week for the first four races this season. Gross said there have been 85 different runners, including some from out of state.

“Pretty much every community in the Capitol area has been represented,” Gross said. “It’s a very challenging course. Some people don’t like it, and some people absolutely love it. It’s a low-key, low-cost — I call it a club run. Same people every week, and they’re having a great time together.”

Last year’s women’s winner, Maranacook cross country coach Rosalea Kimball, is again in first place, followed by Johanna Stickney and Nina Brickett. On the men’s side, Gardiner’s Ward Boudreau holds the lead, followed by Jeff Jones and Sam Krajewski.

Gross said the overall leaders change each week. Runners need to finish five races to win the series. Joe Viselli, last year’s men’s champion, has run two so far.

“He’ll make that up,” Gross said.

Along with the top competitors, there are people like 59-year-old Dan Howard of Chelsea. Howard got back into running last year after a 40-year-break, one year after his wife completed the “Couch to 5K” program through Kennebec Valley Coaching in Augusta. After completing the program himself last year, Howard ran the last five races of the series, and plans to run all eight this summer.

“I don’t like running on the road. It’s hard on my knees,” Howard said. “I’d much rather run on the trails.”

Howard agrees with Gross’ assessment of the course as challenging.

“I think it’s extremely challenging,” he said. “It’s only a 5K, but probably two-thirds of it is uphill. It’s hilly, it’s uneven terrain, but it’s beautiful up there. I lived in Augusta for 30 years, and never even knew there were trails back there.”

There is no online registration for individual races in the series. The cost is $5 per race, and registration is at the stadium within Bond Brook between 5:15 and 5:50 p.m. before each race.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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