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For the Fun of Fit: Kids 'tri' to fight melanoma

For the fifth year in a row, our family rose before dawn on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and traveled to Frederick for the eighth annual Frederick Kids Triathlon, the first of four races in the 2014 Maryland Youth Triathlon Series.

The Frederick Kids Triathlon is a multi-sport event for children between the ages of six and 13 that, according to melanomaresource.org, "offers a safe, non-competitive triathlon experience for children, and more importantly, provides important lessons on staying safe in the sun."

The former Tri to "Win-the-Fight" event, a charity fundraising event to benefit the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, was, according to the website, "begun by race director Martha Rushford to honor and spotlight her mother's battle [with melanoma] and the importance of ‘sun safe' practices and preventative measures to avoid skin cancer." The event was renamed the "Frederick Kids Kathryn Rushford Memorial Triathlon" to honor Kathryn Rushford, who lost her battle with melanoma on March 13, 2013.

According to melanomaresource.org, melanoma is the most common cancer among young ages 25-29, and the second-most common cancer in those 15-29.

"Only one blistering sunburn, especially at a young age, more than doubles the chance of developing melanoma skin cancer later in life," the site notes.

After years of overseeing the Frederick Kids Triathlon, Tri to "Win-the-Fight" handed the reigns over to Racine Multisports, a Williamsport-based company that specializes in planning and directing multi-sport endurance races while supporting local charities and businesses.

Though we missed seeing the familiar faces that had always been a part of the Frederick Kids Triathlon experience, we were pleased with Racine Multisport's management of the event. The transition area and the venue as a whole was well planned and organized, with Racine's signature tents and inflatables clearly marking the finish line as well as the transition entrances and exits.

Racine also lined the kids up for the swim in bib number order, which eliminated a lot of pre-race jockeying, and had two kids in each swim lane instead of one, which helped to speed things up and keep the race moving along.

Although results and finish times have always been available, the addition of timing chips provided the kids with an accurate and realistic timed-race experience and allowed them to see their split times as well.

And while some kids were in it to win it — obvious by their sleek racing bikes, tri kits and determined expressions — most were there simply to experience the thrill of multisport and have a good time, my own daughters being no exception. This was their fifth Frederick Kids Triathlon and 10th or more triathlon to date, but none was particularly interested in the results. My youngest, and most competitive, who finished 13th out of 45 in her division, cartwheeled over the finish line, cheered for her sisters and celebrated with a friend who finished second. My older two were even more nonchalant, content to enjoy a fun event while supporting a good cause.

Note: If you'd like to help "Win-the-Fight" against melanoma, visit http://www.melanomaresource.org

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