Give it a tri: Zionsville race helps young kids explore strengths


By Mark Ambrogi

Carter Wilt has a delicious reason for enjoying triathlons.

“You swim a lot, bike a lot and run a lot. After that, there are a lot of food options you can get,” said Carter, who will be a Union Elementary fourth grader this fall.

Carter, 9, will be taking part in the Zionsville’s Kids TRI for Kids for the third year. His brother, Brady, 7, who will be a Union second grader, will be participating in his second triathlon.

“They have a great time doing it and want to do it again every year,” said their mother, Cristie Wilt.

The Zionsville Kids TRI is set for 7:30 a.m. July 4 at Azionaqua Swim Club, 4875 Willow Rd. This is the ninth year the triathlon has been held in Zionsville. The ages of participants are typically 7 to 14, grouped in age groups of two years (7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14). The age groups of 11-14 compete in a longer race course, which is double the shorter course. Boggs will make an age exception with more information from the parents.

“For instance, if you’ve got a good swimmer who is age 6, we’ll let them participate,” Zionsville race director Bryan Boggs said. “It’s about safety for the kids, so we need to understand that a little more. Last year, we got some feedback that some kids were afraid of the swim, so we added a duathlon, which is run, bike, run instead of swim, bike, run. We run that concurrently in the same age groups.”

Boggs, a Zionsville resident, is the board president of Kids TRI for Kids, which is a series of triathlons in the Indianapolis area. Boggs formed the events with Meg Osborne, an Indianapolis resident. Osborne serves as executive director.

“We consider Zionsville one of the pillars of Kids TRI for Kids,” Boggs said. “We’ve always had great participation. Year after year, it’s one of our biggest ones. The most we’ve had is 189 participants. We average 120 to 130 for each of our races.”

In 2015, Boggs and co-race director Dan Gehring, also a Zionsville resident, couldn’t make a July 4 race, so they moved it to Father’s Day, and participation was lower.

“July 4 is a celebration day for Azionaqua, so that’s why we’ve had it on the fourth,” Boggs said. “We’ve had pretty good luck with (that day).”

Boggs said they wanted the distances to be shorter so children don’t have to train for it.

“The whole idea was to get kids participating is to lower the obstacles for entry into it,” Boggs said. “So we shortened the distances, so the kids don’t have to go out and train for this, but it’s still a challenge for them.”

Swimming is the strength for Zionsville Swim Club members Carter and Brady, Cristie said.

“Biking is the one I struggle at, because it’s a longer distance and there are lots of hills,” Carter said.

Carter’s goal is to get a medal.

“It’s really hard to get in the top three,” Carter said.

Carter, who will turn 10 Aug. 20, said he might have a better shot because last year he was one of the younger ones in his age category.

Cristie and her husband, Chris, compete in marathons.

Modest beginning

Boggs remembers his first Zionsville triathlon for kids vividly.

“The first year we had 35 kids, and it was 50 degrees, and it was spitting rain that day,” Boggs said. “All of them finished it. We’ve come a long way since then. I was up the night before making directional signs. We didn’t have the backing of Kids TRI for Kids or all this equipment. We were doing it on a shoestring. We had just enough with volunteers to point the kids in the right direction.”

Boggs, 54, has been doing triathlons since he was in college and has competed in four Ironman races.

“I was a national age group champion in the 1990s,” said Boggs, who also has swum the English Channel. “My oldest son, Ian, is a professional triathlete, and my youngest is in a Triathlon Club at Purdue.”

Ian, 23, is in his second year at Indiana University medical school. Beau, 20, is a Purdue engineering student. Beau competed in the Kids Tri when he was younger.

Zionsville Kids Tri

When: 7:30 a.m., July 4.

Where: Azionaqua Club, 4875 Willow Rd., Zionsville.

Age groups: 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14.

Distances: For ages 7-10, it’s a 100-meter swim, one-mile bike ride and half-mile run. For ages 11-14, a 200-meter swim, two-mile bike run, one-mile run.

Remaining races:

  • July 31 – TRI Indy Race at White River State Park
  • Aug. 13 – The Riviera Club
  • Sept. 5 – North Central High School

To register, visit There is an extra fee for race-day registration.