By Kyle LoJacono
Lawson McLeod has been competing in triathlons for nearly two years and he recently tasted victory at the national Iron Kid race Oct. 3.
The race was in St. Petersburg and included a 50-meter swim, 500-meter run and two-mile bike ride. The Wesley Chapel 6-year-old finished with a time of 13 minutes and 50 seconds, besting 550 competitors in his age group from 30 states and five countries.
“When I was coming to the end there were a lot of people yelling.” Lawson said. “Then I heard my cousins screaming that I won. I was so excited because it’s the first time I’ve won an Iron Kid race.”
Lawson has also won four Livestrong Youth Series races this year.
Lawson, who is a student at Wesley Chapel Elementary, started competing in triathlons just after turning 5 last January. His mother and father, Laura and Tommy McLeod, also do such races and his 3-year-old sister Ryann will begin doing the same next year.
“One thing we love about the sport is that as a family we can practice and train together,” Laura said. “Bike workouts include riding with Tommy and/or I at Flatwoods or on the trails in Seven Oaks. We all go together to swim practice at Arbor Greene and we can run together.”
Lawson said he enjoys doing all three elements of a triathlon. His mother said the day after he competed in his first he could not stop talking about it.
“He woke up and the first thing he asked is was he going to race in a triathlon again that day,” Laura said. “It was the cutest thing. He just loved everything about it from the start.”
Laura and Tommy both love Lawson’s athletic pursuit, but they were surprised by his selection of triathlons. Laura played college soccer while Tommy played college football and the two thought Lawson would pick up one or both of those sports instead.
“He has played soccer at the (University of South Florida) Bulls Academy held at USF, played T-ball, baseball and karate,” Laura said. “He had fun seeing his buddies at these sports, but triathlons have been the only thing that he has ever popped up after the event the very next morning and said, ‘do I get to do a triathlon today?’
“The energy output level that he expends on a daily basis training is excellent and having choices is wonderful too,” Laura continued. “He sees friends at swim practice, tri-camp and at all the meets, so the social component is still there.”
Lawson has done so well in this season’s Livestrong Challenge Series he will be presented with a special triathlon seat for his bike. He will receive the prize for placing first in the series locally Nov. 6 at the Bob Sierra YMCA in Northdale.
“I don’t want the season to end, but I’m excited for next year,” Lawson said. “It’s really fun and I want to keep doing it.”