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A new event coming to Wauwatosa Aug. 20 will give local kids the chance to compete in a triathlon.

The Tosa Youth Tri will feature swimming, biking and running events for children ages 9 to 13, said Mary Pluta, director of communications for The Friends of Hoyt Park & Pool, which is sponsoring the event. The nonprofit group operates the Tosa Pool at Hoyt Park and The Landing at Hoyt Park.

It's the event's first year but it aligns with the organization's mission to improve the health and wellness of kids, she said.

"This was just a way that we could encourage children to enjoy a lifelong interest in biking, swimming and running," Pluta said.

The triathlon is divided into two categories: "fun" and "challenge." The fun category includes a 100-yard swim in the 25-yard Tosa Pool at Hoyt Park, a 2-mile bike ride along the Menomonee River Parkway, which will be closed to traffic, and a .62-mile run along the Oak Leaf Trail. The challenge category will double all the distances.

Limiting the participation to ages 9 to 13 was done for a few reasons, Pluta said. First, organizers wanted participants to be old enough to handle the course and transitions, and planners did not want the event to interfere with high school sports, figuring that high school freshman are 14 years old. Plus, organizers wanted to attract upper elementary and middle school kids to activities that are fun and promote lifelong fitness, she said.

Race Director Christine Erickson is a triathlete herself, training and competing in the events since 2012. She frequently swims at the pool in Wauwatosa. She sprang at the opportunity to help others explore an activity that's somewhat rare.

"It's important for anybody to find a physical activity," Erickson said. "A lot of people aren’t exposed to triathlons."

Erickson said it's possible for kids to jump into the event with little to no training, but some have been preparing for the triathlon for some time. The Wauwatosa Recreation Department has offered swimming classes for kids, as that leg of the race is often the most daunting, she said.

Erickson chose the distances for the race, which she said are based off recommendations from USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport of triathlon and the different parts of multi-sport. The Wauwatosa triathlon is sanctioned by USA Triathlon.

So far, about 120 people have registered for the event and organizers are capping participation at 200, Erickson said. Registration is $45 on or after Aug. 6 and closes Thursday, Aug. 18. All competitors receive a T-shirt, goody bag, refreshments, and a one-year USA Triathlon membership.

The Tosa Youth Tri is also in search of volunteers and sponsors. For more information visit bit.ly/2azB2CR.

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