There are so many triathlons all over the world and most in really cool places, making it incredibly tough to choose. But, the truth is, you need to think twice before registering if you’re going to be traveling with the kids in tow.
Of course, there are a few basic things to keep in mind when deciding if the location is right for your family, such as the age of your kids, how many other triathlons they have been to, the distance of the triathlon, ease of getting to the venue, and honestly, the cost. When we mention cost, we’re thinking about the the cost/benefits of having the kids in tow versus hiring a sitter or calling in the grandparents to stay at home.
While it may be nice to have the family present to cheer the triathlete on, sometimes both the cost and the hassle, just aren’t worth the effort. We’ve had a few races where we just let dad go on his own and we stayed home, especially when coordinating everyone’s schedules proved very difficult.
But, there are also considerations of the race site itself. So, before you hit that button to complete your registration, here are the top 5 things we look for no matter the age of the kiddos.
Safety and Ease of Getting Around
This is the first thing you should consider when picking a site with the kids in tow. It may be an unbelievable race site, but getting around on race day may be a mess. For example, Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico is a wonderful race and we will do it again, but in no way would I bring a stroller kid. Getting around is a bit tricky from swim-in to swim-out and then bike-in and so on. You are really confined to a small area and if you, like me, want to get to hot spots, it is nearly impossible with a stroller.
Great races for safety are those that are stroller-accessible and you do not need to cross major roads or busy triathlete crossings. For Ironman races, you can check their Spectator Guides for help with this. Also, for safety, consider if you have to get around cities by yourself with the kids. Unfortunately, bad things can happen anywhere and you seriously need to consider the location before say yes.
Amusements for the Kids
With little ones, you want to make sure there is open area to run around in, especially on long race days. One of the greatest races for this is all the Ironman Mont Tremblant races. Not only are there great accessible public playgrounds, but the race director makes it a priority to have kids’ play areas. Rev3 races are another awesome series for making the kids a priority. Many of their races are at amusement parks, while others are in family-friendly cities and towns. Make sure you also consider shade with these playgrounds.
Availability of Food
Yes, you can pack what you think will be enough food, but hello, they are kids and they are bound to want more. Even short races make for long days with kids in tow. There is only so much food you can pack up and drag all over with the kids. We like to make sure we pack lots of snacks and water, but always try to find a place to sit down for lunch. By lunch, the kids are tired and so am I and we’re all in desperate need of a break.
So, before you hit that purchase button on the race, check out the race map and local maps to make sure you will have back up when your food runs out. For added fun, make sure you know where the local ice-cream store is; a major must do! We love the ice cream shop right off the Ironman World Championship run course in Kona. Priorities, baby!
This is at the top of my list when the kids join me at a race no matter what age they are. We raised the kids to make sure we always support each other in all we do. That means, even as college kids, we travel to their sporting events and they still trek to “daddy’s crazy races”. It does not matter if they were still in strollers or college kids, and frankly for my spectating as well, a spectator-friendly course is a MUST.
My favorite races are loop races with kids in tow. Being able to set up in a location for the day and walk to the hot spots is so easy. I love race courses like Texas where we can find a shady tree and stay within one area on the run course. For bike loops, Arizona is a favorite. When you have kids in tow, being able to set up “camp” for the day and have everything accessible is a huge plus.
Accessibility to Your Hotel
Accessibility to your hotel is another must for half or full-distance races. The day can be long, even for the fastest of triathletes. We always make sure we have a room close to the race site at least the day before and race day. You never know what can happen; diaper blowouts, rain, heat, a sick kid, or everyone just needing a nap.
For both the Ironman World Championships and Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico, we rented homes for the week before and after the race. Then, for race weekend, we also booked a room for the two nights at the race site. This allows us to sleep in “late”, you know like 4:30 AM, and to have a place to call home base. It is also good just in case anything happens during or after the race to your triathlete and they need a quick place to recuperate. We don’t want to have to head back to our rental home in this situation.
There is so much to consider when picking a race location, but with kids in tow, it’s so important to set yourself, your triathlete, and most importantly, the kids, up for success!
We’d love to hear from you about which race sites you think work well with kids in tow and which races you wouldn’t bring them along. Please share so your fellow triwives/partners can benefit from your experience…