Consider your vacation/triathlon destination. The spread of the triathlon's popularity in the last couple of decades makes that pretty easy. Your only limits are your time and budget, because you can find a triathlon just about anywhere. North America has the most, but there are triathlons in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Asia. Many cities and civic organizations stage triathlons to increase tourism and raise money. Numerous Web sites provide information about coming triathlons. Choose a place where the family wants to go anyway, and then choose the most convenient race date for you. Remind the kids that after race day, they'll get to go to the museum, ballgame, beach or whatever.
Many theme parks sponsor family-friendly triathlons. Sometimes events are held within the park, so family members can take advantage of the attractions when they're not trying to catch a glimpse of their athlete. Others are held near the park, with discounts offered for participants and their families. For example, in 2010, the Web site Triathlete named the Revolution3 Triathlon at the Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn., its most family-friendly race.
Plan the vacation so the triathlon falls early in your stay. Allow time for travel to the destination and maybe a day for the triathlete to unwind and examine the course. The evening after the race should be low-key; it's probably best not to plan strenuous activities the next day. The rest of the stay is all fun.
Triathlons aren't a great spectator sport. It can be hard to spot your "Waldo" among the pack, and, depending upon the course, hours can pass before you might catch a glimpse as he or she crosses a finish line or agreed-upon vantage point.
Here are some tips to make life easier for the spectators:
- If you're not in a theme park, look for a place with shade and a sandy or grassy area where kids can play.
- Gear and supplies aren't just for the athlete. Dress comfortably. Take drinks, snacks, chairs, sunscreen, reading material, toys and amusements
- Don't hang around the race site the whole time. If your triathlete is likely to take hours to finish the race, cheer him or her at the start, go do something else and return in plenty of time for the end.
- If the family wants to cheer on the triathlete, agree on vantage points. Kids might want to make and display posters or signs or wear supportive T-shirts or caps.
- Realize that the competitor may be tense before the race and exhausted afterward.
Read on for lots more information about family-friendly triathlons.