Area athletes race for health & humanity

Published Jul 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm (Updated Jul 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm)

The wave pool area at South Park played host July 20 to the 13th annual Kids Triathlon, which raised money for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh.

Nearly 200 kids gathered at the park early Saturday morning and after a brief rain shower, the event started promptly at 8 a.m. with the first leg of the triathlon – swimming. Next, the youth proceeded to the bicycle obstacle course and then the running portion of the event.

Young athletes between the age of 7 and 12 from all over the Pittsburgh area and surrounding counties participated in the triathlon. This year, the South Park triathlon raised more than $40,000.

Over the past years, more than $500,000 for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh has been raised.

All of the participants received a “goodie bag” containing T-shirts and Pirates tickets. All finishers received a medal and the top three boys and girls in each age group won trophies.

Maggie Withrow, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh, said the race was first co-founded by Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) and sponsored by The Almanac. Murphy, who serves as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps, enlisted the aid of several dozens of volunteers from the Naval Operational Support Center. Additionally, Murphy distributed Congressional Certificates of Merit to all participants.

“It engages the youth athletes in community service, Winthrow said. “There are people in this community who need help.”

She also added that the triathlon also helps kids become more active.

In addition to the $30 registration fee per athlete, many of the participants helped to fund-raise for Habitat for Humanity.

The swimming portion started off the triathlon. Depending upon their ages, athletes swam one lap in the pool and then they went off to the bicycle obstacle course. From there, participants ran down the road leading from the wave pool. The hard part for a lot of the kids was making their way back up the hill, which is a little more than a half a mile.

Will Perham, 9, of Upper St. Clair trained hard for the triathlon. “I got up every morning at 8 a.m. to swim,” he said. He said he also ran two laps around his house every day to prepare for the running portion of the race.

A participant in two previous triathlons, Ryan Mizniak, 9, of Peters Township said biking is his favorite part of the competition. In preparation for the triathlon, he said he went to his grandma’s house to ride his bike a lot.

Seven-year-old Shane Rudeberg explained that he had been training for the triathlon this summer.

“I like riding bikes,” he said. He added that he wanted to participate in the triathlon because “I want to get a medal.”

“Running is my strongest,” said Hunter Fetterolf, 9. The Sewickley resident said his mom also likes running and has participated in marathons. Fetterolf finished second in the boys’ 8 to 10 age group, but first among the 9-year-old boys.

“It’s just fun,” enthused 8-year-old Colby Bernard. The Upper St. Clair resident was participating in his second triathlon. He said biking is his favorite part of the race. He came in 15th overall in the boys’ 8 to 10 age group but finished first among the 8-year-old boys.

Elizabeth Knight, 11, of Whitehall participated in her first triathlon. “I’ve done running races before,” including the kids’ portion of the great race, she said. She added that she likes swimming the best, and was on a swim team in the past.

Tai Kamitani, 8, of Hampton Township competed in his first triathlon and said the hardest part of the triathlon was “running up that hill.” He said he liked swimming the best and thought the triathlon was “fun.”

Sadie Joseph, 7, of Mt. Lebanon said she liked biking the best and agreed that running up the hill was the most difficult part of the race.

Carmela Buffone, 7, of Collier Township also concurred. After running up the hill, she exclaimed, “I feel like I’m gonna throw up.” Her sister Sophia, 9, said the hill was the hardest part for her, too. The two agreed that the biking was the most fun.

John Clay Humphreys, 9, of Peters Township said, “The hardest part was running after the biking.”

Ashlyn King, 9, of Mt. Lebanon, who participated in her third race, said she liked swimming during the triathlon.

“I like that the pool is longer than what I’m used to,” she said. She added that running was the hardest part of the race.

Ashlyn’s sisters, twins Meghan and Makenzie, 10, also participated in the race for the third time.

“I like competing while having fun,” Megan King said.

Makenzie King said of the triathlon: “It’s fun and we’re helping people.”

A complete list of participants and their finishes can be found at

North Park will host another kids triathlon on Aug. 10 to benefit Habitat for Humanity. For more information, visit

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