Hundreds of children of all ages, parents and friends recently lined up to enjoy a day in the sun and participate in the second annual Tucson Jewish Community Center family triathlon. Among the throng were Oro Valley youth Jordan Gant-Stevens and his younger brother, Jackson Gant-Golston.

Jordan, 15, is a homeschooled high school freshman; Jackson is a second-grader at J. Robert Hendricks Elementary School.

The non-competitive family event at the JCC was aimed to be an introduction to the excitement and unique difficulties found in competing in a multi-sport triathlon, though Jordan and Jackson were by no means lacing up for the first time. Since last year, the boys have been working with Robin Evans-Kremer, head coach of the Purple Minions at the Tucson JCC, a youth tri training team.

Though the boys train for triathlons and other events, their mother Amanda Gant said being active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle always been part of the family. The daughter of a triathlon athlete herself, Gant said he sons have been participating in contests since they were young.

“My kids have always been very athletic,” she said. “Jordan, my older son, cycles a lot. My husband was a sprinter for the U of A, I played sports – so we’re just a pretty athletic family, and we’re always doing something. …We’re constantly exercising at our house and making fun games out of it. To really be competitive, you ought to be doing more than just going to practice; it’s about being healthy overall.”

When it came to the event, Jordan participated in the 200-yard swim, five mile bike ride and one mile run. Not yet competing entirely at the same level as his older brother, Jackson swam 50-yards, biked three miles but was able to compete in the mile long run.

So often, the goal of any athletic event is to compete against your peers, whether on a team or individually. Less concerned with medals and awards, the family triathlon was non-competitive; no timing, no age group awards, just good, healthy fun. All participants received a swim cap, t-shirt, a ‘dog tag’ for participation and the encouragement and support of the entire community.

The run and swim portions of the event took place on the JCC campus and the longer bike sections ran along the Rillito River loop.

Though winning wasn’t part of the fun, Gant said that the children – and all of the participants – still learned valuable lessons. 

“I really think that just finishing is a huge accomplishment in itself, it really is,” she said. “I don’t think, especially for kids, that it’s really about your time or competing against someone else. …There’s a lot of self-motivation, which I think is great for kids, they can go at their own pace, and for some kids, just finishing is a great thing and time really has nothing to do with it.”

Proceeds from the event, held in partnership with Tucson Medical Center, were donated to The Shyann Kindness Project, an organization with the mission “to serve and put smiles on the faces of underprivileged, at-risk, and medically fragile children by providing fun and needed gifts while promoting and teaching kindness and acceptance of all people.” 

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