Micah Scott blazes in first, leaping off her bike after a seven-mile sprint, leaving her cycling shoes still clipped to the pedals and hitting the pavement sock-footed.

The 14-year-old grabs her running shoes, lined up on the side of the road alongside those of the rest of her family, and hustles off on a 21/2-mile run.

Close on her heels are sister Aspen, 12, brother Zain, 10, and mom Shannon Scott, 39.

Welcome to a typical workout with the Scott family, a triathlon-hooked family of eight whose idea of family togetherness is slogging it out on the race course.

Father Derin Scott, 40, is cheering from the sidelines today, thanks to a tweaked knee. Between shouts of encouragement to the rest of the family, he's helping daughter Laken, 9, who's getting used to a new pair of drop handlebars on her road bike.

Two other siblings, Raiden, 5, and Vann, 3, are too young to race just yet, but they'll be out here too when they're bigger.

"The whole point is to do it as a family," says Derin, defacto head coach of this family team. "We love to wake up on race day and go do the races together."

Several times a week, they stage a training session in their Lago Vista neighborhood. Most summer weekends, they line up on a starting line somewhere, hair tucked under swim caps and goggles securely in place.

Today, the three oldest kids, plus mom and (hopefully) dad (depending on his knee), are competing in the Capital of Texas Triathlon in downtown Austin.

While their parents tackle the one-mile swim, 24-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run of the Olympic distance race, Micah and Aspen will duke it out over a sprint course that's half as long. Zain will compete in the First Tri, a 400-meter swim, 6.2-mile bike and 3.1-mile run.

And when it's over, they'll go someplace to hash out every leg, every transition, every highlight and every lowlight of the race.

"Some of our kids take it seriously, and some don't," Derin says. Though not everyone's a fan of waking up early, they all love race day.

"Micah your gears, they're clicking. Fix them!" Derin yells as she rolls past. Then, as Aspen comes into view, "Catch up to her, Aspen. Come on!"

A little family competition doesn't hurt.

Micah always wants to outpace Zain in the run. "Sometimes when I don't beat him, I kind of get mad," she says.

And everyone — even Laken, the 9-year-old — is gunning to beat dad.

At the Skeese Greets Triathlon earlier this month, Aspen passed her mother on the bike course for the first time. The 12-year-old threw her hands in the air, reveling in the personal victory — while mom fixed her flat tire on the side of the course.

Still, Aspen knows she tries harder when her family is alongside her. "They give me support, and my Dad pushes me," Aspen says. "So if I don't do it with the family I go super slow."

When his wife rounds the corner, Derin teases her a little. "Mama, you're way behind! My word!" he shouts.

"They're fast, Dad!" Shannon hollers back.

Derin, a former collegiate basketball player who owns an iPhone application development company and a debt settlement company, and Shannon, a lifelong swimmer whose father owned a bike shop, initially started racing to stay in shape. The rest of the family got involved about five years ago, after some of the kids participated in a mini-triathlon in Fredericksburg. They loved it, and it's evolved from there.

These days, the older children, who are homeschooled, train with Nitro Swimming and Cedar Park Classic Running Club. They log an hour to an hour and a half of physical exercise a day.

Mom and Dad squeeze in training whenever they can. Last year, the couple entered their first Ironman triathlon, a grueling event consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run, but had to quit 10 miles from the finish because they couldn't make the cut-off time. They're trying again this November, when they compete in Ironman Cozumel on their wedding anniversary.

Besides being a fun way to spend time together, triathlons are a way to stay active and healthy, they say. It's also good preparation for what life can throw at you.

"One of the things with triathlons is they're character building. You do have adversity on the course, whether it's breaking down, getting a flat or whatever," Derin says. "There's stuff like that you have to experience all through life."

The children know that if they don't train, they're not allowed to race. "We tell them they don't have to do triathlons, but they have to do some kind of fitness," Shannon says.

Most of the family members are middle-of-the pack competitors; Micah is the most competitive.

But winning isn't the point.

It's fun, even though someone inevitably loses their timing chip or forgets their water bottle or goggles come race day.

"I like the thrill of it — it makes me feel really good," says Micah, whose main goal at the Capital of Texas Triathlon today is to improve on last year's time.

When family members pass each other on the course, they slap palms and cheer each other on.

"I think the sense of accomplishment is great," Derin says.

pleblanc@statesman.com; 445-3994