With close to four hundred participants ranging in age from 7-14, the 2016 Alaska IronKids was nearly double the size of last year’s. Among the familiar faces were returning champions and top placers such as Juan “Wacky” Francisco Baniqued, and the Borlain sisters, Sam, Tara, and Chezka. From the outside looking in, it was easy to be overwhelmed and forget that there was a sport at the heart of all the festivities and excitement. For the triathletes, it was more than just the culmination of months of training, sacrifice, and discipline.
It’s about fun.
While the training may be difficult for everyone involved, the difference lies in how much one gets out of it, whether it’s a sense of accomplishment or the amount of fun the kids in question are having.
“We support them all the way because we know that it’s something that they want to do, and we’ll keep on doing it for as long as they’re still having fun,” IronKid parent Joy Mempin told PlayPH. As the mother of two IronKids, 14-year old Enrique and 11-year old Maria, she has witnessed for herself the happiness that comes when her children cross the finish line.
Even champions like Tara and Sam Borlain agree, saying, “When you enjoy your childhood, that’s what makes it memorable, and sports is something we enjoy that makes our childhood more than memorable.”
It’s about Bonds.
As related by Mrs. Mempin, who makes it a point to travel with her children whenever they race, Alaska IronKids has proven to be an effective outlet for the family to bond. As PlayPH witnessed, theirs was hardly an unusual case as the triathletes’ families and friends could be seen exploring the venue and race routes in the days leading up to the event. Without a doubt, the race was a wonderful opportunity for bonding to take place, with some traveling from as far away as Australia or the US to show their support.
It‘s About Camaraderie.
At first glance, triathlon is a solo sport, but as the kids who joined this year’s race showed, the camaraderie that is shared between triathletes trumps the pursuit of medals or trophies. At the finish line, for instance, participants could be seen cheering for and hugging each other as they completed the race. Now, it wasn’t that these were longtime acquaintances or relatives – many had only met the day before – but they shared something unique that nobody could take away from them: They were Alaska IronKids.