Tue 28 June 2022

Alaska IronKids prove that racing is more than just winning

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Winners of the Alaska IronKids Davao 2018 toast with glasses of milk

These days, a lot of us want to stay healthy and live by the saying “health is wealth.” We all have our own sport to keep us fit. Some go for basketball while others opt for football. Many go to the gym or maybe do yoga or Pilates. Whatever the choice, the most important thing is that one gets to exercise and stay fit and healthy during these times where stress-eating is the “in” thing.

That is why it is best to get the young ones started with outdoor activities and keep them away from watching TV, or playing games on their tablets or on their parents’ mobile phones.

For many decades now, Alaska Milk Corporation has been one of the strong advocates of children’s fitness— from the days of the company’s iconic “Wala pa ring tatalo sa Alaska” campaign (which had a young Michael Uytengsu playing one-on-one basketball with 1970 NBA draft-turned-PBA player Cisco Oliver) to the company’s present Alaska Ironkids Swim.Bike.Run competition.

IronKids is a three-in-one sport that combines, swimming, cycling, and running much like the adult IronMan competition, but with conditions that are kid-friendly.

For this year, the Alaska IronKids Swim.Bike.Run has already been held twice. Davao was the venue last March, while the Ateneo de Manila Grade School grounds was the site for April. The next one is set on June 2 at the Wow Recreation and Activity Center in Subic Bay and is expected to draw in about 350 participants.

For Mr. Fred Uytengsu, Chairman of the Board of Alaska Milk Corporation, (who is also a sportsman and a former member of the Philippine National Swimming Team) the IronKids series is a way to develop an active lifestyle and to instill good values to boys and girls. “More than encouraging healthier, active lifestyles, Alaska IronKids offers children and teens the opportunity to build confidence and learn the values of discipline, hard work, and perseverance, while making new friends and having fun!” says Mr. Uytengsu.

Clifford Pusing, first placer (Boys, 13-14 category) of the Alaska IronKids Davao leg held in March 2018

Clifford Pusing, who is running in his last Alaska IronKids contest on June 2, affirms that the benefits of the race go beyond getting a medal. He says, “They (organizers) give me a chance to develop my skills and sportsmanship. Winning is everything but when I lose, I learn to accept my defeat with dignity.”

A dedicated athlete, Clifford is eyeing to join the Ironman race in 2019 with the help of his father Mike and Coach Ani de Leon-Brown.

Without a doubt, the Alaska IronKids have become a unique get-together for families. Moms and dads and siblings tag along to support, guide and cheer their young triathletes. “It provides the perfect venue for families to bond and for parents to demonstrate in ‘real-time’ that being healthy can also be fun,” Mr. Uytengsu added.

Wacky Baniqued, first place winner (Boys, 13-14 category) of the Alaska IronKids Cebu leg held in 2017

Some kids, like Wacky Baniqued, have come to see the competition as a stepping-stone for bigger and more meaningful endeavors. Wacky, top winner of the Alaska IronKids Cebu 2017, is now part of the Philippine Triathlon Team. “I am thankful to the organizer of Alaska IronKids… IronKids introduced me to the exciting world of triathlon.”

To give back to the program, Wacky as now been serving as volunteer marshal for the Alaska IronKids.

After June 2, the next Alaska IronKids Swim.Bike.Run will be held in Cebu in August 2018. —KARL TAN






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