September 4, 2007
Tift Co. -- Study after study points to the need for kids to get more exercise, but one kid got the health message years ago. Her family's love of strenuous exercise naturally caught on with their youngest child. If you get to spend a little time with her, you find an impressive girl who works hard when others might take the easy way out.
Sometimes kids resist picking up their exercise levels, but not Madison Honeycutt, who looks forward to riding her bicycle in one-hundred degree weather.
"I'm fixing to go train for a race," says Madison Honey after she lifts her racing bicycle off its holder in the family garage, straps on her helmet and places her foot in the pedal guard.
She will ride through her neighborhood, whizzing by with the determination of an Olympic cyclist. A sometimes grueling exercise, pumping bicycle pedals mile-after-mile, day-after-day, often five miles at a time. It takes her about seven-minutes to make one lap, and the hot weather doesn't seem to bother her at all. You wonder if she even notices it.
"You still gotta train," says Madison cheerfully while riding at a moderate speed.
An energetic, competitive nine year-old who chooses the hard road of life instead of an easy one.
"I say you got to finish it if you've started," says Madison when asked why she spends so much time training.
Madison conditioned herself for a kids' triathlon all summer, a sporting event many people don't know exists.
"Where you swim, ride a bike and run," says Madison explaining what a kid's triathlon is.
Madison competes with kids her own age at Georgia's Ironkids triathlon held in Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta.
The event started with a 100-yard swim.
While watching the nine year-old, you wonder if Madison wants to be a young tri-athlete or if her parents push her to do.
"She makes that choice of whether or not she wants to do it. And once she makes that decision, then we just try to help her get there," says Marcie Honeycutt, Madison's mother.
After swimming four laps, Madison must quickly get her bicycle and ride almost three miles on a hilly course she's not familiar with, since she's trained on flat terrain.
Her parents see a change in their daughter when she trains for competitions.
"I think she's more in tune with her body, what she eats and what she does to prepare for training," says Lee Honeycutt, Madison's father.
In about 15 minutes she completed two of her three events. The last one was to run more than a half-mile.
"The hardest part is probably the run," says Madison who swam 100 yards in the cool pool water, then rode her bicycle for almost three hilly miles and must finish the event by running slightly more than a-half mile.
Her concerned mom wondered if Madison would cross the finish line that seemed so far away. Other competitors looked weary when they crossed it.
"She got over-heated a little bit," says Marcie, Madison's mom.
The young tri-athlete would finish. How did she think she did competing in her first kid's triathlon?
"Good," says Madison seconds after crossing the finish lime.
Good and hot, needing a little help cooling down from a physically exhausting experience.
Volunteers had cold water soaked sponges ready to help cool the young people, and Madison looked as if she was being baptized as the water dripped from her hair.
Her supportive parents stood close-by watching their child slowly recover, encouraging her regardless of where she placed in the competition.
"I think she did great," says Marcie, as Madison drank a bottle of a popular sports drink.
When, the kids' triathlon competition ended, Madison would learn that she won her age group, finishing in 21 minutes, quicker than her competitors.
A huge win made possible because she never quit.
Madison's father, mother and older brother compete in triathlons.
To see nine year-old Madison Honeycutt roll her bicycle out of the family garage, you know immediately she's serious about her cycling. Spend a little time with her and you'll find an expressive and determined kid, mature way beyond her age.
She spent most of her time during the summer swimming, biking and running in 100+ degree heat and wanted to take the hard road instead of the easy road in physical fitness. Hours and hours of training spent preparing herself for one competition-an Ironkids event, a triathlon where she would swim, ride her bike and run, a continuously timed event, from the time she started swimming until she literally crossed the finish line during her run. No individual times per event, just the total time mattered.In the end, she won her age group. All her training worked, but many people don't know about triathlons for kids, known as Ironkids. They'll know after seeing the story about a determined kid who ran her heart out.