KINGMAN - There was plenty of heart and soul for the young and old at the 2008 Dick Tomlin's Spirit of Triathlon in downtown Kingman on Saturday. The Kids Triathlon got the day started during the chilly morning hours and race day lasted through mid-afternoon.
Emma Olney, 5, was the first in the pool to start the race. Her beginning was a good thing because swimming is her most enjoyable part of the swim-bike-run contest. "It's my favorite because you can do two, three or four laps," Emma said.
Emma said she enjoyed the entire experience, but the best was the willing adoration from the spectators. "The funnest part was all the people cheering," she said.
This year marked the fourth running of the triathlon, which began shortly after the death of Dick Tomlin in 2005 in a hit-and-run accident. Tomlin was riding his bicycle along Route 66 when the accident occurred.
Gary Burnett, 69, of Monrovia, Calif., was at the race for the third time in four years. Burnett has been taking on triathlon challenges for the past 25 years, and considers himself to have been a friend of Tomlin. "I met Dick at the Olympic Training Center in 1990," Burnett said. "We raced all over the world together in places like Yuma, New Zealand and Australia."
Burnett is particularly touched by the triathlon in Kingman because of how it reminds him of his friend. "He was so humble, and the Spirit of Triathlon is what he was about," Burnett said. "He was such a nice guy, I never realized what an amazing athlete he was."
Burnett recalled the races in Yuma he was at with Tomlin and how Tomlin was about being with people. "He would get up early to drive to the race," Burnett said. "Then he would do the race and drive back home the same day to keep his family thing going."
Burnett said the triathlon is great for Arizona, and Dick Tomlin's race stands out from most. "This is what triathlons used to be," Burnett said. "Make friends, do a lot of cheering and there are no mean faces."
Bonnie Tomlin, Dick's widow, was pleased with the amount of volunteers the triathlon had and of the willingness to cooperate. "The incredible thing is we had over 100 volunteers," Tomlin said. "That makes for a safe and pleasant day."
Tomlin said there were nine people from Illinois, seven of whom had never done a triathlon before, who entered the race, but it took some doing to get them in. The folks from the land of Lincoln were without bicycles.
It was Ran Hanks of Bicycle Outfitters who found bikes for them, and Hanks made certain they were in working condition.
"That's the spirit of triathlon," Tomlin said.