Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ironmen (and Women) in Training Take Titles at Ironkids Competition

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ironmen (and Women) in Training Take Titles at Ironkids Competition

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Boleky

Just the name "triathlete" sounds like a person who's doing something above the norm.

Now imagine doing it before even turning 10.

A number of Mandarin-area youths are running, biking and swimming their way around town as part of the Junior Hammerheads Triathlon Club. The group had 17 athletes qualify for the Ironkids National Championships held Oct. 3 in St. Petersburg.

Ironkids is a national series that is owned by Ironman, well-known for its adult triathlons. Lance Armstrong was once an Ironkids national champion.

Ironkids has three divisions: Juniors 7- and 8-year-olds (50-yard swim, 2-mile bike, 500-yard run); Intermediate 9-11 (150-yard swim, 4-mile bike, 1-mile run); Seniors 12-15 (300-yard swim, 8-mile bike, 2-mile run). Athletes competed at the national championships against those their exact age.

Troy Britts (fifth-grader at St. Johns Country Day) was the star for the Hammerheads by winning first among the 10-year-old boys. Three teammates also took the podium. Lexi Reily (sixth-grader at Episcopal) placed fifth in the 11-year-old girls division, Timmy Gildersleeve placed fifth among 11-year-old boys, and Katelin Gildersleeve placed fourth among 9-year-old girls. Timmy and Katelin both attend Jacksonville Country Day School and are the children of team coach Mandy Gildersleeve.

"I love [triathlons] because it's a life skill. These are sports you can do your whole life," said Gildersleeve, who lives near Baymeadows Road and Southside Boulevard. "You're an individual athlete, but you meet people from all over."

Gildersleeve started the program with Susan Messer and Linda Lynch in 2007. In May, they put on the First Coast Kids Triathlon at the University of North Florida, which attracted around 1,000 participants.

The other Hammerheads that competed at the National Championships are Henry Ephrem, Casey Goodwin, Katie Messer, Chelsea Reeves, Hans Vandenberg, Inge Vandenberg, Toni Reeves, Chris Messer, Georgia Messer, Kevin Warner, Azure Warrenfeltz, Indigo Warrenfeltz and Macie Wilson. Most live in the Mandarin area or surrounding communities.

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