Family members compete in base triathlon

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

6/17/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Exercise is a family value in the Kemp household. After son, Wyatt, 13, and dad, Maj. Ian Kemp, competed in a triathlon, son, Ayden, 11, said he wanted to join in on the fun.

The base triathlon June 10 was the perfect opportunity for the guys and mom, Meredith Kemp, to compete in the team category. The race was relay style, with each competitor swimming 400 yards, biking 1.5 miles and running a mile. The family decided that this type of competition, hosted by the 42nd Force Support Squadron, was perfect for them.

"They did it right for a family event," Major Kemp said. "Everyone stays together." The military is good about incorporating families into events, Mrs. Kemp said.

"I think I did pretty good," Ayden said. "I liked the bike. That was the easiest. My favorite part of the triathlon was the whole thing," Wyatt said.

The two Kemp cheerleaders, daughters Liberty, age four, and Felicity, almost two, provided plenty support from the sidelines.

All four Kemp children are active year-round. The boys, who enjoy going to the youth centers, are on soccer and baseball teams. Liberty enjoys soccer, baseball and dance.

Felicity is eager to join her older siblings. "She copies whatever anyone else does," Major Kemp said.

Mrs. Kemp said it was important for the girls to be at the triathlon so they can see how fun exercise can be. "If you see your parents exercising, you're going to do it, too," she said.

That is a lesson the boys learned years ago.

While stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona in 2004,  Major Kemp cycled in the 111-mile El Tour de Tucson. The boys wanted to ride, too. So the next year, when the boys age five and age seven, the family rode in the 35-mile tandem race. The boys were on tag-along bikes with their parents.

"I had to push my mom up the hills," Wyatt said proudly.

After seeing his dad compete in a triathlon two years ago, Wyatt wanted to do a sprint triathlon while the family was at Osan Air Base in Korea. This was not a relay race - Wyatt had to complete the whole course himself. At first, the event organizers were hesitant to let a young boy participate. Major Kemp ensured them Wyatt would be prepared and promised to keep pace with him throughout the race.

The two of them trained hard, practicing four to five days a week and combining different elements of the race. They gradually increased their distances to match the race. The day before, they did the whole triathlon.

"We did the triathlon twice," Wyatt said.

The practice paid off - Wyatt beat his goal time by 10 minutes. He also placed first in his age group - he was the only competitor.

"He'll latch onto things like that. That's his whole focus," Major Kemp said.

Major Kemp said he is pleased that his family could compete in the Maxwell triathlon while he was stationed here as a student at the Air Command and Staff College. "I think it's great that they let us do this as a family."

They were proud of their time, finishing in one hour, 25 minutes and 19 seconds. They look forward to an athletic activity each month, and Major Kemp and Wyatt would like to join a competition each year.

"This is fun stuff for me, especially with my family," Major Kemp said.