2,000. That’s the number of kids who took on the First Coast Kids Triathlon at Jacksonville University’s campus at the riverfront on May 18.

The 6th annual event, sponsored by JU, the Jaguars and the YMCA, was a day of both fun and awareness for the youth and families of Jacksonville. Not only did the competition draw competitors from 42 schools around the area, as well as seasoned kid competitors from around the state and their families, but the triathlon was also used as a tool to raise awareness and support for fitness and healthy living campaigns for youths.

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Kids exiting the swim event at the First Coast Kids Triathlon.

Eric Mann, CEO of the First Coast’s YMCA, said the event is put together in a way that is supposed to encourage kids to be fit, active and involved in healthy living.

“We hope their participation helps them discover a lifelong passion for healthy living,” said Mann about the event.

The word around the event is the competitors were pretty excited about the race, and some had been training for months. Rightfully so as competition started at the University’s swimming pool for the water event, then on to the bike event, and finishing with the run that followed the beautiful banks of the St. Johns River, where the competition ended.

There were two different divisions of competition, each separated by age, one for the 10 and under group and one for 11 to 15 year olds. Each division’s course length was different. The younger division had to swim 100 yards, bike 3 miles and run half a mile, while the older group had to swim 200 yards, bike 6 miles and run 1 mile.

Many of the competitors’ family members rushed from checkpoint to checkpoint cheering on their families and friends competing, as there was a sense of overwhelming support and celebration. With the 2,000 competitors, it seemed as though the number of supporters easily doubled that.

JU president, Tim Cost, is proud to be a part of such a big event that supports Jacksonville and the youth community.

“Jacksonville University is proud to work with the community in this effort to instill healthy values in young people,” Cost said.