Youth Triathlon Returns to Long Beach on Saturday

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Theresa Roden makes an announcement about weather at the 2017 i-tri youth triathlon at Long Beach. Michael Heller photo

Middle school can be an extremely sensitive and overlooked time in a young girl’s life. Discovering who you are, who you want to be and dealing with difficult life choices can be scary for anyone.

For the past nine years, Theresa Roden and her i-tri organization have strived to not only make the experience easier, but genuinely more enjoyable.

And so boys and girls ages 10 through 17 will participate in the BNB Hamptons Youth Triathlon this Saturday, July 14, to benefit i-tri. This youth distance triathlon, which will begin at Long Beach in Sag Harbor at 7:30 a.m., is designed specifically with safety in mind, and challenges participants with a 300-yard swim, 7-mile bike and 1.5-mile run. Although many participants will represent i-tri, the event is open to boys and girls from communities across the East End.

The primary goal of i-tri is to help middle school girls have confidence and conquer body image issues while achieving fitness goals through triathlon and mental health training. Having dealt with poor athleticism and body issues in the past herself, Roden wishes she had a program like i-tri when she was in middle school, a program where girls are taught to find their own strengths and in turn help their peers find theirs as well.

“It has really helped with my self-esteem and confidence,” said Tiffany Farez, a resident of Springs who has participated in i-tri for three years and is coaching at this year’s event. Prior to joining i-tri, Tiffany didn’t know how to ride a bike or swim.

“Usually I’m a really nervous person, but I’ve been able to become more comfortable and accepting of myself,” she said. With her success, Tiffany’s younger sister was inspired to participate in the triathlon for the first time this year. “Before this, she didn’t know how to ride a bike or swim, like me when I started,” Tiffany said. It’s been amazing to watch her grow, as her coach, and bond with her about her new achievements, as her sister.”

Watching the youth triathlon, it’s hard to believe that many of the first-timers hadn’t run a youth triathlon before. “If you try your hardest you can make it,” Lily Perello of Sag Harbor said. “I didn’t know how to ride a bike before joining i-tri and I really didn’t like running. But it’s always really nice to have your friends encouraging you and pushing you to do better,” she said.

A six-month training program leading up to the triathlon includes group lessons on building self-esteem, leadership skills, nutrition education, after-school fitness activities during the week and specific triathlon training on the weekends. “Our girls have experienced improvements in self-esteem, physical health, eating habits, and have become confident leaders in their school and community,” the program’s online mission statement reads.

On-site registration opens at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday or register online by visiting active.com and searching “i-tri.”

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