By Linda Mittiga/Sayville Schools.
Okay, so maybe the windshield had a thin film of ice, but the frigid October morning was no deterrent for the 255 children (out of 262 who signed up) for Sayville’s first annual Elementary School Duathlon.
The gathering of Second-, Third-, Fourth-, and Fifth-grade students and their families was impressive at the 7 a.m. sign-in on Saturday morning. They came with bikes of all shapes and sizes. Some came wearing animal hats and thermal outerwear. They brought their colorful helmets, several helmets even sported spikes, but all came enthused and ready to run-bike-run—with two simple goals—to finish their first-ever Duathlon and to have fun doing it!
As the name implies, the Duathlon involves two activities: running and biking; (a triathlon involves three: running, swimming, and biking). Although these are often timed events, the Sayville Elementary School Duathlon organizers emphasized that: “This event is not a race, and all students should be proud for their participation, no matter how long it takes to complete the course. We hope you can join the fun this Saturday! “
It was a rain-or-shine event, however, that day the sun helped warm up the morning in time for the first activity: the 8 a.m. Fun-Run for students in the lower grades and their families. This spritely group enjoyed following the purple-painted line around the entire Lincoln Avenue field , a distance of ½ mile, to cross the official finish line accompanied by supportive family members.
The “Run – Bike –Run” began punctually at 8:15 a.m. with the first wave of participants, Fifth-grade boys, who assembled at the starting line and sprang into action on the “go” signal. Fifth-grade girls followed 1 minute after, and the succession of Fourth-graders, Third-graders, and Second-graders according to genders was similarly paced 1 minute apart.
After completing the first circuit around Lincoln Avenue fields, the “Duathletes” grabbed their bikes for the second part: a 2.5-mile ride on a designated route in the Lincoln Avenue vicinity. Once the bikers returned to the Lincoln Avenue School, they corralled their bikes in the parking lot, and took the final 1/2–mile run around the field both to cross the official finish line and to achieve their personal best.
Flushed with exertion, these young athletes were greeted with hollers, cheers, and hugs as each accomplished what they had originally intended—to finish the first-ever Sayville Duathlon. If you asked them about it just a little later, they did have fun doing it.
Special thanks to Duathlon organizers Gary Jenson, Lincoln Avenue Principal Michele LeBlanc, and Coach Bolger, along with Paula Troha who arranged for the bananas and bagels generously donated by Stop and Shop, as well as all 75 volunteers consisting of parents, High School teachers and athletes (Athletes Helping Others club run by Rob and Suzanne Hoss), and Lincoln faculty who made this event possible.
Special mention goes to Nikita Dorcinvil who owns the timing company "Just Finish, Inc." He donated his time and services and also took finisher pictures which can be found on his website, www.justfinish.net