IronKids triathlon promotes healthy lifestyle

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By Katherine Bauer, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — Swim 50 yards, bike two miles and run 500 yards.

This is part of the IronKids Triathlon.

The 2013 Hy-Vee IronKids US Championship hosts triathlons for six- through 15-year-olds, including a stop at Cherry Hill in Cedar Rapids on Saturday.

“I’ve loved triathlons since I was 5-years-old,” Cedar Rapids race director Michael Zimmerman said. “I would watch Hunter Kemper race on TV. But there wasn’t an option then.

“I called Ironman and said I wanted to bring IronKids to Iowa. When Hy-Vee started sponsoring IronKids, they brought it to Cedar Rapids. Numbers have gotten bigger and bigger.”

Kemper, a four-time U.S. Olympic triathlete, began swimming competitively at age six. Now he’s a seven-time USA Triathlon Elite National Champion.

“I was trying out a bunch of different sports,” Kemper said. “Swimming was what a lot of kids did.”

Kemper’s son will compete in the Cedar Rapids this weekend. Davis Kemper, 6, is making his triathlon debut.

“He’s very good at running and biking,” Hunter said. “He’s a really active kid. He loves sports.”

IronKids Triathlons promote healthy diets and physical activity.

“It’s good to give kids an opportunity to get active,” Hunter Kemper said. “Kids should be outside and healthy and fit.”

IronKids allow young athletes to show off their talent, while welcoming newcomers to the multisport world.

“It’s pretty paramount,” Zimmerman said. “A healthy lifestyle is quintessential.”

The Hy-Vee IronKids Midwest Triathlon Series takes place in several surrounding states, including Kansas and Nebraska. Events already have been held in Ames, Waterloo and Des Moines. There is a Dubuque race Aug. 3.

“It’s all hard work,” Zimmerman said, “and people in Cedar Rapids aren’t opposed to hard work. I said, ‘Cedar Rapids, Iowa, would be a great place to hold a race!’ It’s been a really cool progression.”

Since its beginning in 1985, IronKids events have provided opportunities for 60,000 competitors. Zimmerman expects more than 300 competitors today.

“It will move you,” Zimmerman said. “They’re in it and a part of it.” 

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