Vinnie received a life-saving Kidney transplant just 3 years ago, now he's lining up for his first Weet-bix Kids Triathlon. Photo / Supplied
Ask any kid lining up at the Weet-bix Kids TRYathlon on Sunday and they’ll tell you it’s probably a pretty big deal, but for 8-year-old Cook Islands Māori, Vinnie Ingram and his mum Verity, the event is especially significant.
Vinnie received a life-saving kidney transplant just three years ago. A passionate cyclist, he’s been dreaming of lining up at the triathlon, but three years of Covid lockdowns and TRYathlon postponements have meant he’s been more or less stuck in the training phase till now.
“He’s super excited to be involved! He’s a little firecracker,” mum Verity says.
“It’s another step for him on his journey to being a 'normal' kid.”
Vinnie isn’t the only Kiwi kid looking forward to Sunday's 75m swim, 3km cycle and 500m run (the race is longer for older kids (11-15) who do a 150m swim, 6km cycle and 1km run), Sanitarium the race organiser says it expects this year’s event to be its biggest ever.
“After facing interruptions due to Covid and being postponed this year due to flooding, Sanitarium is excited to return and get as many kids as possible active,” National Marketing Manager Peter Davis says.
The TRYathlon is a ‘rite of passage' for Kiwi kids Davis says, ‘It’s all about giving it a TRY and is open to all kids, no matter their sporting ability.’
“We want to see as many tamariki as possible believe in themselves, achieve their potential, cross the finish line, earn a medal and feel like a true Kiwi champion.”
It's been three years since Kiwi kids last lined up for the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon. Photo / Supplied
Beginning in 1992 with 500 entrants, the Sanitarium TRYathlon is now the biggest triathlon series in the world for kids aged under 16 with more than 460,000 kids taking part across three decades.
Some TRYathletes of yesteryear - like Black Ferns Sarah Hirini, the Bremner sisters Alana and Chelsea, and Olympian triathlete Debbie Tanner - have gone on to represent Aotearoa at the highest level.
World Champion and Gold medal-winning Para shot putter and discus thrower, Lisa Adams, is lining up as the Sanitarium Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon ambassador this year.
Adams says she’s honoured to be involved in the series, after big sister and coach Dame Valerie held the mantle in 2014.
Lisa is no stranger to challenges and trying to overcome them, being diagnosed at an early age with left hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.
“I tried rugby and rugby league which led on to athletics. I tried it and stuck with it because no one told me I couldn’t,” says Lisa.
Adams will be joined tomorrow by Auckland Blues players, as well as America’s Cup sailors, All Blacks and sprinting mega star Zoe Hobbs, NZ’s new 100m record holder.
World Champion and Gold medal-winning Para shot putter and discus thrower, Lisa Adams, is lining up as the Sanitarium Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon ambassador this year. Photo / Supplied
Vinnie wants to be a palaeontologist when he grows up but admits he’s pretty keen to see the ABs.
“I want to play basketball too,” he adds.
Lisa is encouraging all kids to get involved and says anything is possible.
“My son Hikairo is my motivation. If you set your mind to something and put in the work, you can achieve your goals,” she says.
Davis says it’s the sense of accomplishment they’re wanting to give tamariki.
“We see the looks on the kids’ faces when they cross the finish line or achieve their personal goal. It’s great for their self-esteem and physical health and we want every kid to have the opportunity to feel that.”
The central-east Auckland Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon starts at 9am Sunday, March 26 at Point England reserve, followed by the New Plymouth TRYathlon Thursday, March 30 at 10am at Ngamotu Beach Reserve, New Plymouth.
Entries are open now and more information can be found at https://tryathlon.co.nz/ and https://trychallenge.co.nz/