It doesn't matter if you're 30 or 13 — the feeling you get when you cross a finish line is the same.
It's a proud and exhilarating moment.
Children no longer are just standing on the sidelines watching their parents run, cycle or swim across that line. They're joining them.
Mike Ewoldt, owner of the Peak Performance running store in Omaha, said more families want to do events together.
“Parents are running and as they get involved, the kids get involved,” he said. “They share something as a family.”
Ewoldt has noticed that more parents bring kids to his store's Friday “Happy Hour” runs. And Peak Performance's running event company, U2CANRUN, is putting on more races for kids, too, such as one-mile fun runs.
Lynette Holloway understands why kid races are becoming such a hit.
The Papillion mother of four entered three of her children into the Muddy Heroes mud run in Greenwood, Neb., this summer.
“I saw it and asked them if they wanted to do it, and they were all over it,” Holloway said.
Her 12-, 10- and 8-year-olds opted for the 4K obstacle course and earned a T-shirt and dog tags at the finish.
“They talked about it for days and, of course, the bragging rights of who finished first.”
Holloway said races such as Muddy Heroes give her children a place to burn all of their energy and help them stay active.
“Instead of watching TV for hours and hours, they're getting outside and early on setting a life trend of making it fun to exercise,” she said.
On July 20, about 100 kids, ages 6 to 14, pushed themselves across the finish line at Cunningham Lake for the Fourth Annual Omaha Kids Triathlon. Race director Alan Kohll said the mission is to inspire and motivate youths through sports.
“We want to help them lead an active, positive and healthy lifestyle,” said Kohll. “We included the first kids triathlon with the first Omaha Triathlon four years ago. We are looking to continue to build and grow the size and number of youth triathlon events.”
Race Omaha puts on four events just for kids: Splash and Dash; Omaha Kids Triathlon; JCC Triathlon; and the Retro Triathlon, which is a new event that encourages participants to dress in 1980s gear.
Kohll's goal is to get 500 to 1,000 kids participating in the Omaha Kids Triathlon every summer.
Thirteen-year-old Alexandra Espinoza couldn't wait to sign up. She said it's always been her dream to participate.
Her dream came true, and then some. She took second place in her age group at the Omaha Kids Triathlon.
“It feels good,” she said with a smile. “When I got to the finish line, I took a deep breath and thought 'I just did this!' I was really, really happy!”
Her mother, Kara Espinoza, beamed with pride, too.
“It doesn't matter how many first places you get, just being out here moving and enjoying the day, you're a winner,” she said.
Children of all ages wore their finisher medals with pride. Eight-year-old Jack Sandiland thinks it's “cool” that he earned a medal. His mother, Becky Sandiland, said these events are great for building a child's confidence and self esteem.
“Just the ability to accomplish it and know you can do it when it's hard,” she said. “To finish the race, whether you are first or last is irrelevant. It's not about winning.”
Kohll didn't just serve as race director for the Omaha Kids Triathlon. He's a proud parent, too. He ran across the finish line with his daughter, Abbey.
“Kids are just so excited to do the race and have a great time,” he said. “They are just smiling ... I like to see them smiling!”