Race day felt a little bit different for Landon Kurtz.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 12-year-old Learning with Grace student wasn’t able to compete in a duathlon against others or in front of the usual large crowds that accompany sporting events like this. Instead competitors would have to compete individually and submit their times.
But his mom, Carrie, took to social media in an attempt to generate some fan support for her son, asking them to line the biking and running route Sunday.
“I put the memo out on Facebook and more people turned out than even I anticipated,” Carrie said. “It was great to see so much support.”
Carrie estimates at least 30 turned out to watch, some holding up signs. Others ringing cowbells.
“It felt good to have people out there to watch me,” Landon said.
The event was supposed to be held at Maritime Park in Pensacola and put on by the Joe Zarzaur Tri Gulf Coast Triathlon Club. Instead, Landon, a member of the club, and other youth competitors had to settle for competing solo. Their times will be turned in and awards will be given out at a later date.
Landon finished his biking and racing portion in a time of 29:12. He opened with a .6 mile run, then rode a bike for three miles before wrapping up his day with a mile-long bike ride.
“I felt like I did pretty good. I’m pretty competitive. I don’t like to lose,” Landon said.
Landon got into duathlons and triathlons a year ago, competing last year in both the Sea Turtle Youth Triathlon on Pensacola Beach and the Dolphin Dip ‘N Dash in Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze.
He plans to do both again this year as well as participate in various area 5K runs.
Already on a swim team, Landon decided to add running and biking to the mix and gave competing a shot. He’s been hooked ever since.
“I wanted to do more than just swimming and I gave this a try because I’m competitive. I enjoyed it and kept going with it,” Landon said. They are a lot of fun.”
Landon began Sunday’s competition around 8 a.m. along Camden Road. It was his first time competing on a longer course. He handled the challenge well despite the unique setting of having to compete without others around competing with him on the course.
“It’s not as exciting,” Landon said.
As far as which part of the event he likes better, he doesn’t have a favorite. “Both biking and running are fun. There isn’t one I like more than the other,” Landon said.
Until he competes again later this year, he’ll just focus on striving to be the best he can be.
“The plan is to keep training and get ready for the next one,” Landon said.
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