The Triumph of the Tri for a Cure


As organizers head into the 12th year for the fundraising event, some of the 2019 athletes share their stories.

Every year, Maine Women Magazine not only has the honor of sponsoring the Tri for a Cure, but also of getting a chance to know a few of the participants’ stories by featuring them in the July issue of the magazine.  The all-women’s sprint triathlon was founded in 2008 by Julie Marchese and her friend Abby Bliss and in the 11 years since then, more than 13,000 women have participated. They do so to raise money for the Maine Cancer Foundation and the model has been extraordinarily successful; heading into its 12th year, the Tri has raised a total of nearly $14 million.  Last year’s event alone surpassed $2 million.

But as much as the Tri is about raising money, it’s also about creating bonds among participants, many of whom are survivors. This is not a community anyone asks to join, but the tales of camaraderie and spirits that won’t be broken that emerge from this sisterhood are undeniably powerful. One of the 2018 Tri participants was Elaine Bourne, a 57-year-old Bath resident who died less than a month after her race. In the following pages, you’ll find the story of the tribute being paid to her by another Maine woman who is engaged in her own fight with cancer. It’s a beautiful story of passing a torch and holding a memory up as inspiration.

The Maine Cancer Foundation anticipates at least 329 women participating in the 2019 Tri who have never done the event before. Among them is a pair of friends who had a lot in common, including boyfriends who worked together and jobs in the same profession, and then, suddenly, within four days of each other, they found out they had cancer in common as well. Their story of struggle, and strength, is in these pages. We consider their courage a call to arms, for ourselves as individuals and the greater Maine community.


Cancer is the leading cause of death in Maine, killing more than 3,000 people every year. Maine’s cancer rates are higher than the national average. The Maine Cancer Foundation leads a statewide effort to foster and grow the most promising and effective cancer-fighting efforts available to the people of Maine. How? A combination of grant-based financial support and coalition building. MCF also funds programs that encourage Mainers to make the lifestyle choices that could save their lives (nearly 50 percent of all cancers can be prevented, MCF says) as well as detection opportunities (estimates are that one-third of all cancer deaths can be avoided with early detection).

Expected number of participants in the 2019 Tri: 1,261 (some teams are still
adding members)

How many of them are cancer survivors? 149

Since the Tri for a Cure started, participants have: swum a total of 1,261 miles, biked 172,470 miles and run nearly 35,664 miles

Volunteers over the last 11 years: 5,032


When: July 14, 8:30 a.m.
Where: Southern Maine Community College, South Portland (the event runs through Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough)[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Photo by Heidi Kirn

The Bike Baton

How a breakfast and a bike connected two brave women fighting cancer; Sarah Emerson will ride a bike belonging to the late Elaine Bourne over the finish line at this year’s Tri for a Cure.


Photo by Heidi Kirn

Friends in Sickness and in Health

Two friends discovered they have almost too much in common when they were diagnosed with the same cancer four days apart


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