Mayor Alvin Brown and Jacksonville University President Tim Cost both expressed their pride as JU alumni Wednesday, Feb. 13, in announcing that JU will host the 2013 First Coast Kids Triathlon May 4-5, the largest event of its kind in the nation.triathlon2.jpg

“JU will be the heart of this event, and it shows its commitment,” said the mayor, a 1985 and 1989 graduate. “By opening its grounds, JU is investing  in youth. I’m so proud to be an alumnus, and I thank President Cost for his vision and commitment, so that the next generation of athletes have an opportunity to partake in a competition like this, right here at JU.”

Cost agreed that JU is focused on investing and connecting “deeply and tightly” with the community, and added that May 4 is also Spring Commencement at JU, which will add to the excitement in the air during the triathlon event.
 
He also discussed the importance on JU’s own campus of student-athletes, who make up a fifth of the student body, and whose collective 3.23 GPA for the first term of the 2012-13 academic year ranked as one of the highest ever at the school.
 
triathlon1.jpg“Early activities are so important to youths becoming committed to their own health and well-being,” he said. “These youths can become our next student-athletes, and role models for our next generation of leaders.”
 
The event’s organizers noted that JU as the new location this year “will enable us to grow, provide a safer course and create a better spectator experience.” The new course will start and finish on JU’s Dolphin Green at Romesburg Riverfront, along the St. Johns River.
 
Brown described the First Coast Kids Triathlon as “an opportunity to encourage character development and hard work while teaching about the spirit of competition.” He congratulated the sponsors, volunteers and event planners for their success in guiding young people “on a path to healthier, more active lives.”
At the event May 4 and 5, more than 2,000  youth athletes will participate in what is easily the largest triathlon for children in the country for the fourth straight year.  More than 350 volunteers and 6,000 spectators are expected.
 
“Jacksonville University is proud to partner with the City and First Coast Kids Triathlon to host this outstanding event for our local youth,” Cost said. “We fully support efforts to improve the health and esteem of our area’s young people. This triathlon fits well with our goal to make our campus and its expansive riverfront available to the community and deepen the connection between JU and the North Florida area.”
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The City of Jacksonville partnered with the Jaguars Foundation, Jacksonville University, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, Florida Blue and Firehouse Subs for the event.  With their help, the triathlon has expanded a first-of-its-kind program that introduces kids from underprivileged communities to the sport of triathlon.  In 2013, 60 kids will learn to swim and be taught the fundamentals of bike safety, proper nutrition and injury prevention during a seven week program.  In turn, they will participate in the triathlon on May 5.  As part of the program, all of the children will be permitted to keep the equipment used in the triathlon.
 
The support also funds an outreach program in schools across the First Coast.  Through this program, schools can receive free classes for all students about the importance of being healthy and active.  Every school that forms a team for the triathlon will earn their share of more than $10,000 that will be used to help schools buy the equipment, supplies and materials necessary to keep kids healthy and active throughout the school year.  More than 12,000 kids are expected to participate in the education seminars, with more than 1,200 kids representing their school at the event.
 
“We could not be more proud to expand our long-standing partnerships with the YMCA and the Jaguars to include the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville University,” said Tom Gildersleeve, Event Director of the First Coast Kids Triathlon.  “Families across the First Coast have experienced the power of being motivated to be healthy and active through our efforts over the past four years, and these new partnerships will allow us to expand this positive influence.  Our new venue is truly world-class, and we hope it brings national attention to the fact that Jacksonville is home to the largest kids triathlon in the United States.”
 
The City of Jacksonville and The First Coast Kids Triathlon contributed to this report.
 
About The First Coast Kids Triathlon
Organized by Kids Triathlon, Inc. (a 501c(3) entity), this event will attract 2,000 racers to Jacksonville University, and it will be largest kids triathlon in the United States for the 4th consecutive year.  More than 350 volunteers and 6,000 spectators will also participate.
Schedule of Events for May 4 & 5, 2013

The race weekend is spread over two days.  The festivities kick off Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. with Packet Pick-Up and the Event Expo.  Saturday is highlighted by the Pep Rally (starts at 5:30 p.m.) featuring welcome messages from local officials, introductions of the 2013 Celebrity Big Kids and a motivational speech.  Sunday morning is race day with transition opening at 6:15 a.m. and the races starting at 7:30 a.m.  Everything concludes with the Awards Ceremony at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
 
What is a Kids Triathlon?
Triathlon is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and kids triathlons are a vital part of this trend.  Race distances are set by the USATriathlon (the governing body of the sport under the United States Olympic Committee) to be challenging, yet achievable, and every race consists of 4 components – swimming, biking, running and transitions.  There are two divisions in kids races with the Juniors (10 years old & under) completing a 100 yard swim; three-mile bike ride and half mile run.  The Seniors (ages 11 – 15) complete in double the distances (200 yard swim; six mile bike ride; and one mile run).
 
More information:
Event Website: www.firstcoastkidstriathlon.org
 
Tom Gildersleeve
Event Director, First Coast Kids Triathlon
Email: tgildersleeve@comcast.net
Phone: (904) 448-2707
Cell: (904) 610-9921