With cooler temperatures and low lying clouds, Saturday morning was a perfect day for the Third Annual Karen Stevens Memorial Kids Triathlon, held to honor the memory of the late Karen Stevens, a swim instructor with the SPY Aquatics program who passed away in 2009. The event hosted almost 100 kids, ranging in age from 5 to 14 years old.
“Karen taught me to swim,” was echoed by many of the children as the reason they chose to make this their first triathlon.
The Stevens family, Chris, Karen’s husband, and sons Matthew and Michael were on hand to award medals and help out along the course while daughter Annamarie participated and Chris' brother-in-law Kevin Leese came by to show his support.
“If this lights a spark in just one kid, then all of the effort that goes into it is worth it,” Stevens said.
He may have found that spark in young Cole Hite who said his favorite part of the race was coming across the finish line because “there was a rush of adrenaline going through me.”
While most of the participants were either part of the SPY community or Severna Park residents, the Wray family from Howard County came to the event after reading that it was a recreational triathlon.
“The kids participated in an event in Columbia last spring that was much more serious,” Cindy Wray said. “Today’s event was nice because I was allowed to run along with the kids.”
The Wray children, 6-year-old Conor and his 7-year-old sister enjoyed the event. Having watched both of their parents complete triathlons they said they enjoyed the chance to run it themselves.
Another attraction for many of the kids and parents who attended the Karen Stevens Kids Triathlon was the added safety of a pool swim and the car-free ride and run along the B&A Trail.
Saturday morning is a busy time along the B&A Trail with runners training for fall marathons and cyclists gearing up for the Sea Gull Century in early October. While most of the runners and cyclists are serious about their training, the sight of so many children running and cycling had a positive affect on the crowd.
Annapolis Strider, Marjorie Boyd shouted encouragement as she finished her morning run and added, “These guys absolutely made my run this morning.”
It was easy to see how true this was as runners moved out of the way allowing the young runners to have a clear shot at the finish line. One runner even stopped to hug a young runner who had struggled to complete the distance.
Based on the response of the Bailey family who had two young athletes in the event for the second year in a row, Saturday’s race was a huge success.
“We will definitely be back next year,” Alexis Bailey said. “Blake was too young to compete this year but he ran in with his brother and sister and I am sure we will all be back next year.”