How the Zootown Kids Triathlon got off the block
Sometimes a great idea starts with a boy, a bike, swimming trunks, and running shoes.
Porter Melvin, age 12, has always been active. He loves to partake in triathlons, easily transitioning between activities and running for the medal at the finish line. So when Missoula didn’t have a triathlon for kids, Porter suggested to his mom that there be one in the future.
Mom, Wendy Melvin, began the Zootown Kids Triathlon in XXXX, granting the request of her sporty son and opening the door for a flood of boys and girls between the ages of five and twelve to participate each summer.
“I ran the Missoula Kid’s Marathon for eight years. That was a really important thing to do for the community,” said Wendy, passionately speaking about the channels in which our kids have access to use their copious amounts of energy.
“Triathlons, as a whole, are on the decline and so we need to get kids involved in healthy lifestyle sports again,” said Wendy. On a long list of activities for our youth, triathlons are multifunctional. They are something to prepare for, mentally and physically, and they challenge the body in different ways, all while instilling an interest in competition and leading a healthy life.
“It’s huge. They cross-train, they aren’t just doing one thing…it’s better for their bodies,” said Wendy.
Wendy is hopeful that the current excitement for the Kids Triathlon has the endurance to move the needle for triathlons in the future, and perhaps inspire some to stick with it into their adulthood.
“Last year, I met with Missoula Parks and Recreation and they had a triathlon camp to help prepare kids for this event,” said Wendy, noting that Missoula Parks and Recreation even hired a triathlon coach to aid the kids along the way.
“The most rewarding part is seeing so many kids involved,” said Wendy. She laughed. “I try to suck everyone into it.”
But it seems that being supportive and active are one of the same for the Kids Triathlon. Nearly every donor has a child involved each year, and some donors auction off prizes or contribute to a gear bag that each participant receives. Each summer, the structure is the same: a fifty-yard swim, one-mile bike, half-mile run for the short distance and one hundred-yard swim, two-mile bike, and one mile run for the long distance.