Standing atop the 10-foot water slide at Wilson’s Beach Club, 13-year-old Mariah Lucero had butterflies in her stomach — not because she’s afraid of heights or because she had never gone down the slippery track to the pool below. Lucero was nervous because she was about to begin her first triathlon.
“I kind of felt like I was going to throw up,” she said. “But after I got into the water, I wasn’t nervous anymore.”
Saturday, Lucero, who goes to Smithton Middle School, and her 10-year-old brother Caleb, who attends Fairview Elementary, participated in the Youth Lions Triathlon held at Wilson’s Beach Club in Columbia. Lucero completed a 100-meter freestyle swim, a 3-mile bike ride and a one-mile run in her 13-14 age group. The event was sponsored by UltraMax Events, with the proceeds benefiting the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation.
The 91 finishers endured a rainy morning, running across the finish line with wet hair and soaked clothes. However, race director Mark Livesay said the rain had little effect on competitors.
“I think it impacted the parents more than the racers,” he said. “The kids didn’t seem to mind at all. They really weren’t bothered too much.”
Because there was no lightning or thunder and the course had few turns where racers could fall easily, the event went right on schedule. Kate Lucero participated, along with her daughter, in the biking and running portions of the race. She did this not only to ease her daughter’s worries, but also for her own personal fitness.
“Mariah wasn’t sure if she could do it,” she said. “But it was a low-key event, so it took away some mystery and hype of a competition. And it got us up and moving. Would I normally go out and run a mile? Probably not. But with this event, it makes it a little easier to get moving.”
And the triathlon did just that. Earlier in the week, the two learned the course the event would follow, but the running section of the race still gave them quite a workout.
“We walked a little and ran a little,” Kate Lucero said. “It takes more time, but in the end, it’s something we did together. We held hands and ran together through the hard parts.”
The running was more of a challenge for Mariah Lucero than the swimming. This summer she is competing in the Missouri Athletic Center’s club swimming league through Wilson’s Fitness. Her mother said she enjoys seeing her daughter, who has a learning disability, active in sports.
“You know, not everyone has a body that works. It’s a blessing,” she said. “I’m just glad she can enjoy it.”
However, Lucero did have to do a bit of convincing to get her children to participate.
“It’s interesting how their minds changed,” Lucero said. “Before, they would say, ‘Mom, why’d you sign us up for this?’ but now they are so happy they did it.”