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Family made of iron

Brother, sister compete in children's triathlon

Melinda Mawdsley

Meghan and Penn Lukens are a combined 20 years old, but are already triathlon veterans thanks to IronKids Bread and the triathlon series it puts on every year.

The siblings have been competing in the IronKids triathlon at the Louisville Recreation Center for three years. This year’s race was July 25.

Originally from Highlands Ranch, the Lukens family moved to Steamboat Springs in December, but there was no hesitation as to whether the children would return for the triathlon. They plan to compete until they are too old to be IronKids.

“I like competing in the IronKids so that I can get stronger every year,” Penn said. “I especially like it when we race against other friends.”

Penn, 9, had to compete as a 10-year-old because of his birthday later this year. He placed fourth overall in the swim and finished 13th out of 27 in his age group, despite developing bad blisters during the race and running with his heels out of his shoes.

“I couldn’t quit,” Penn said. “I had to finish.”

In the 7 to 10 division, Penn swam 100 meters, cycled 3.1 miles and ran 0.6 miles.

Meghan, 11, competed in the longer distances for the first time in the 11 to 14 division. She swam 200 meters, cycled 6.2 miles and ran 1.2 miles.

Both siblings are extremely strong swimmers, having been a part of the year-round Highlands Ranch swim team before joining the Steamboat Springs team this summer.

Meghan placed fifth overall in the swim and was in the top 20 in her age group overall.

“Every year, I look forward to coming back to the same place and doing the triathlon,” she said. “What’s special about it is that a lot of people can’t do the triathlon. I’m proud that I’m able to finish it every year.”

Shannon Lukens, Meghan and Penn’s mother, said she checked the results and knew of no other Steamboat child who participated in the event, though Meghan and Penn said they are going to try to talk some of their friends into joining them next season.

In Steamboat, it isn’t uncommon for a child to swim, bike and run all in one day, so the training isn’t a problem for the Lukenses.

They swam at the swim team’s morning practice and ran up Fish Creek Falls to get home. Soccer helped with conditioning, as well. So has genetics. Meghan and Penn’s uncle Larry McCarthy competes in the Ironman triathlons in Hawaii each year.

“He was like, ‘Whoa,'” Penn said of McCarthy’s reaction when he found out what his niece and nephew were doing.

Every competitor in the IronKids triathlon was given a banner with “Finisher” written in bold letters. Meghan and Penn said they have hung their banners, which have doubled nicely as storage spots for swim ribbons, in their bedrooms.

For more information on the IronKids Bread Triathlon Series, which has races throughout the country, visit http://www.ironkids.com.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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