ROXBURY, NJ – Youthful enthusiasm, energy and competitive spirit will be on display Thursday at Horseshoe Lake Park when Roxbury Recreation hosts the third Tri Harder Kids Triathlon.

There will also be a big dose of cuteness, since the swim, bike and run event is open to kids as young as four years old. “It’s so much fun to watch them,” said Roxbury Recreation Program Director Sandie DiDomenico. “They’re so excited. They run from event to event. To watch them cross the finish line is the best part.”

The deadline for registering for the Tri Harder Kids Triathlon is Wednesday. It costs $10 per participant and can be done online.

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The event will have four age groups: 4-6 year olds, 7-8 year olds, 9-10 year olds, 11-12 year olds and 13-14 year olds. All must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The event, conducted in several area municipalities, is the brainchild of Marty Epstein of Marty’s Reliable Cycle, who could not be reached for comment. “Marty went to each township, sat with recreation departments and started this event because he is concerned about the obesity rate of children,” said DiDomenico. “He wants people to get more active and he wants them to get familiar with the park settings in their towns.”

She said the event might spark a long-term interest in children for swimming, running and biking. “This is an introduction for kids to something that maybe they will continue into their lives,” said DiDomenico. “Maybe they will continue competing in triathlons and different events like that.”

Money raised at the event goes to the Roxbury Recreation Department to help it fund other recreation activities throughout the year. “We have volunteers in town that do most of the running of the (Tri Harder) program,” said DiDomenico. “There are also some people from the town recreation committee and from Hillside Lutheran Brethren Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna.

As of today, about 100 kids were registered to compete. DiDomenico hopes at least 50 more will sign-up.

All of the competitors receive medals and coupons for Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream in Ledgewood.

At the event, the 4- to 6-year-olds will swim 25 meters, bike a half mile and run a quarter mile. The 7- to 8-year olds will swim 25 meters, bike a mile and run a half mile. The 9- 10-year olds will swim 50 meters, bike 2 miles and run a half mile. The 11- 12-year olds will swim 75 meters, bike two miles and run one mile. The 13- 14-year olds will swim 100 meters, bike two miles and run 1.5 miles.