Katelynn Cayer just celebrated her 16th birthday. When she participates in Tri for a Cure on July 21, she will be the second-youngest athlete in the competition.
Her mother, Cindy Cayer, participated in the event last year. Katelynn helped her mother train throughout the months leading up to Tri for a Cure 2012.
“I made the decision to do the Tri for a Cure (this year) the very first time me and my mom went out and started training in the winter of last year,” Katelynn said.
Katelynn, who lives in Fairfield, says her mother’s courage to take on the daunting athletic feat inspired her to try a triathlon. She also wanted to celebrate and honor those she has lost to cancer. Her best friend’s mother, Rebecca Beane, whom Katelynn describes as a second mother, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at 28 and died at 40. Her uncle, Owen Mills, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and died at 39 after an 11-year battle with the disease. Her great aunt, Becky Mills, died at 47 of colon cancer, just a year after her diagnosis.
“Seeing their fight until the very end led me to want to take on my own fight in battling a triathlon,” Katelynn said.
Katelynn will be doing the running and biking legs for her team, TRI-in For A Cure. Her cousin, Meghan Farrar, rounds out the two-woman team and will be responsible for the swimming leg of the race.
Next year, Katelynn hopes to complete Tri for a Cure all by herself.
Cindy Cayer, who got into the race, like Katelynn, through the lottery, is participating again this year, holding down the swimming portion for the team Cayers For a Cure. Katelynn’s sister, Jenny King, is doing the running for Team BLK.
While Tri for a Cure is a family affair for Katelynn and her female relatives, fitness is spreading even further through the family. On June 17, Katelynn, her sister, King, and their father ran a 5K for newbies sponsored by Messalonskee High School. The three, plus mother Cindy (who was unable to run on race day), attended a 10-week running class for people who are new to running. Katelynn’s father and sister have never been runners, but the pair finished hand in hand, earning 10th place with their time of 35 minutes.
Though a 5K for Katelynn is no big deal, the cross-country runner for Lawrence High School, who just finished her sophomore year, finds running by herself isn’t as much fun. While she will only be doing two legs of the triathlon this year, she has been training for all three. She started swimming at Colby College’s pool this spring. Last year, while helping her mom train, the two attended clinics and attended more this year. The two also train at the family’s camp in Canada and create and complete a racecourse that mimics the Tri for a Cure. Finally, Katelynn and Cindy run the Tri for a Cure course in July, before the actual event.
“My mom and I continue to train together, even though we are at different levels. We help motivate each other to finish,” Katelynn said.
While Katelynn barely made the age cutoff to participate – competitors must be 16 by the end of the calendar year – there is another requirement all Tri for a Cure athletes must tackle: fundraising at least $350.
Before this issue of Maine Women went to press, Katelynn has raised $390 for cancer research, education and patient support programs. Overall, the event hopes to raise more than $1 million.
While family and friends generously donated, she was still short of the goal and thought she would be pushing it right up until the race to reach the fundraising minimum. Katelynn, her mom and her sister held a spring craft fair to raise money. Local businesses and crafters were involved and the event raised more than $1,000 to be split among the women’s three triathlon teams. Katelynn, who also loves to bake and cook, had a table of baked goods for sale.
In addition to baking, in her spare time Katelynn tends daily to her two horses, a donkey and rabbits.
“On race day, my goal is to have fun and do my personal best. I hope to come in first for my age group and come out on top overall. However, I know there are many good athletes who participate in the race. Definitely a personal best will make me happy.”