At 11 years old, Noah Dunbar understands the value of health, fitness and discipline. He's one of the many people who'll participate in the 2015 FRESH15 race, set for March 7.
Noah's first big race was a kid triathlon at Park Cities YMCA in Dallas in June 2013.
It included a 100-yard pool swim, a three-mile bike and a half-mile run.
His second triathlon was Tyler's Rose City Triathlon in September. This race included a 650-meter open water swim, a 13-mile bike and a 3-mile run. He plans to do the Tri Tyler Half in May and the Trinity Mother Frances Rose City Triathlon and Kids' Triathlon in September.
"I just wanted to continue doing it because it was pretty fun," Noah said. "I want to train for a triathlon so I continue to do little races."
He wants to compete in a full Ironman Triathlon, but as for running, he has no specific goal in mind.
"I like running because it makes me feel like an awesome person and not a lot of kids are doing it," he said. "You can always get up and just do something if you put your mind to it. Try new things."
Noah gets his love for races from his mother, Jami Dunbar, who will also run at the March 7 race. They've trained and rode bikes together, as she gives him tips for a better performance. Their first race together was a 5K in 2012.
"I think he got motivated and saw how much I was biking and running," Mrs. Dunbar said. "It's exciting to me because he's doing something he has set his mind to and made it happen. Even if he doesn't win, he's out there being active."
Mrs. Dunbar, 40, began with triathlons of various distances in 2012. Other races followed. She wanted to run to improve that portion of triathlons. She's joined East Texas Striders, a tight-knit running group in Tyler.
"It's a neat community because everybody helps each other," she said. "We all encourage and cheer for each other and learn from each other. We also share our faith together … I really just do it for the friendship, the community and I compete with myself."
Mrs. Dunbar is proud that her son has taken the initiative to attempt challenging races.
"Succeeding does not mean winning, in my opinion," she said. "It means figuring out a process, going through the ups and downs and challenges, and coming out on the other end, all while building character. That is the reward as a parent."
Competing in races has also helped Noah learn about the value of money. The triathlete saved about $500 over a year to buy a bike online with the help of his uncle.
"It's something that he wanted and we let him take owner ship of that," his mother said. "If you take ownership, you appreciate it more."
Noah's siblings—14-year-old Jillian and 9-year-old Grayson—are also athletic and his father, Marty was a college football player.
"We're not superstars—I'm not at least, but its good to be active as a family," Mrs. Dunbar said. "To be involved and be able to be healthy and treat our bodies the way we're supposed to. We like to be a fit family."
MOTIVATING THE COMMUNITY
This is the second FRESH15 race and organizers anticipate another successful event. Last year, the race attracted 2,800 runners. The Fresh15 includes a kids' 1K, a 5K and a 15K. The 15K equals 9.3 miles and is a race that runners would have to train for. There is a 2.5-hour limit to finish, which is about 15 minutes per mile.
The idea for the race derived from Brookshire's Grocery Company's internal wellness initiatives.
"We were doing some health and wellness challenges," said Megan Riaz, health and wellness coordinator at Brookshire's. "One idea was to run a half marathon. The company covered the costs to employees if they signed up, trained and did the race."
For two consecutive years, about 200 employees participated, so the company brought a similar the concept to the rest of the community.
FRESH15 organizers sponsored a running clinic in January and started #MotivationalMonday to motivate people to get active and to highlight the efforts of runners like Noah.
"One of our goals of the race is to get people involved," Mrs. Riaz said. "We really want you to get where you need to be. We share people's stories and some of these people felt like they couldn't run but they've gone on to accomplish these things."
Last year's race raised $84,000, which was divided between the American Heart Association and the Bethesda Health Clinic. The event this year will benefit
Bethesda, Cancer Foundation for Life's Fit Steps for Life, Seal Legacy Foundation and Team Red, White and Blue.
Follow Coshandra Dillard on Twitter @cdillard_TMT.