Triathlon program pairs kids with older athletes

A local program pairs five young runners with adults to help the children learn how to run a triathlon. Those children are competing in this weekend's Kids of Steel triathlon in Dunrobin.

Tribuddy program helps train underprivileged children in swimming, cycling and running

Candace Anderson, left, has teamed up with 10-year-old Mackenzie Prince to train her for this weekend's children's triathlon. (Karen Kelly/CBC)

Five children will run in the YMCA Kids of Steel triathlon thanks to a local program that helps them compete when they might not otherwise have that opportunity.

More than 100 children are running in the race, which goes Sunday at 8 a.m. in Dunrobin.

Mixed into that group are five children who are part of the Tribuddy program run by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa.

The idea, which only began in 2011, has adult tri-athletes pair with children to help them train in swimming, cycling and running.

Equipment donated

The children are also outfitted with bikes, shoes and clothing by local stores. It was an idea of some local tri-athletes.

Anderson says Prince and other children learn the triathlon much easier than adults, such as herself, who start racing in the event much later. (Karen Kelly/CBC)

For Candace Anderson, who only started competing in triathlons a few years ago, she has been amazed at the strides made by her protégé, 10-year-old Mackenzie Prince.

"[Children] take to this type of thing so much faster than adults, I think," Anderson said.

"I was really impressed by her learning curve and her courage in doing this sport."

Strong swimmer

Anderson also said Prince is a fearless swimmer.

Prince competed in her first triathlon last year and she was the first girl to finish the swimming portion of the race. She also won a medal for the fastest cyclist.

She still said finishing the race was an accomplishment in itself.

"It was very tiring, but I was really happy that I actually finished it all ... that I didn't have to stop. But in the end it was really fun, though," she said.

Prince also said she loves hearing praise from her mentor, Anderson.