Last summer, the Maine Cancer Foundation raised a whopping $1.6 million during the Tri for a Cure, the foundation’s largest fundraiser.
But race officials believe that number can be surpassed later this month, when the all-women’s triathlon in South Portland celebrates its 10th birthday.
“We’re hoping to get to 1.75 million this year,” said Kristen Smith, Director of Community Engagement for the Maine Cancer Foundation.
Over 1,300 women are expected to congregate at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland on July 23 for the sprint triathlon, which features a one-third-mile ocean swim, a 15-mile biking segment and a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run.
Opening ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
In addition to the 1,300-plus athletes, more than 1,000 spectators are expected to attend.
The event is capped at 1,350 athletes.
The swim is held near SMCC’s campus, while the 15-mile bike ride takes cyclists into Cape Elizabeth and back before finishing with a 5K run around the SMCC campus.
The Tri for a Cure is the largest one-day fundraiser in the state of Maine, and participants must raise at least $500 to participate.
While the event doesn’t attract hardcore triathletes, there is a plenty of inspiration to be had at this event.
“It’s really more about the community participating together and women supporting each other,” Smith said. “This year I think we have 160 cancer survivors doing the race.”
In addition, a lot of participants swim, bike and run in honor of loved ones who have beaten cancer or some who have succumbed to the disease.
While the ocean swim distance isn’t too far, it can provide a sometimes imposing challenge. Race officials conduct training sessions to help participants prepare for the event.
“We do several swim clinics in a row to get women used to open water and used to being in a wetsuit,” Smith said.
The sessions help competitors realize the differences between training in a swimming pool and swimming in the ocean.
“A lot of the women who are regular swimmers in the pool and consider themselves strong swimmers, the way you float in the water’s very different when you have a wetsuit on,” Smith said.
Smith also said more spectators are expected for the triathlon, with the race celebrating its 10th year. The route is very spectator-friendly, she said.
“There is room all along where the swim goes out and at the finish line, and we have an amazing crowd along the course cheering people on,” Smith said.
She said some people who live along the route often decorate their homes.
While the race field is full, Smith said officials are looking for more volunteers in areas such as setup, water stations, recycling, passing out food and stripping wetsuits.
Race officials are also seeking more advanced certified scuba divers to serve as sweepers during the swim portion.
Those interested in volunteering or donating or sponsoring an athlete can log onto the race web site at www.triforacure.org. Smith said every dollar raised from the event stays in Maine.
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