While everyone else was in bed or just getting their morning started, some 30 kids were making their way to the start line of the first annual Splash and Dash Biathlon. Saturday’s event took place at the St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center and the first race began at 8 a.m. sharp. The first age group to compete, made up of 6 to 10 year olds, had to run point-three miles, swim 100 meters in the pool and then run another point-three miles before crossing the finish line.
The first place finisher was 10-year-old Will Stone; the first female to cross was 9-year-old Anna Cubito. The rest of the top five boys were Mateo Luna, Ethan Hurd, Michael Skarupa and Isaac Cullum; the top five girls included Annaliese Rexroad, Mallory Matthews, Avery Lazzara and Alex Pope. Around 8:25 a.m. the 11 to 15 year olds took their mark. These dedicated young people were to run point-six miles, swim 200 meters and run another point-six miles. Finishing first was 15-year-old Aaron Kuykendall for the boys, and for the girls, 12-year-old Taylor Stone crossed first. Following them were boys Greg Glasscock, David Kuykendall, Sam Workman and Christien Tuazon and girls Shannon Ross, Millie Tarrant, Madison Bowman and Marley Bellack.
Many of Saturday’s runners were members of the Seminole Landsharks, a youth developmental triathlon team based in Seminole. The Landsharks coaches work to nurture growth and development both in the sport of triathlon and in life. The event was not just for seasoned triathlon participants, however; any participant with either a USA Triathlon one-day or annual youth membership was welcome.
This biathlon wasn’t just about winning a prize, though; it was about making friends. After crossing the finish line, many of the participants went back to the course to cheer the others and even ran with those who were struggling. At the end of the day – well, nine a.m. – all of the participants were invited to a pool party at the St. Pete Beach pool. No one seemed to care who had won – all they cared about was making memories and having a good time.