Thousands of triathletes, millions of dollars

 The Tri for a Cure is, by this time, a Maine institution. The race unfolds for the ninth consecutive year July 17 at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, and it’s shaping up to be yet another huge success.

“I believe people look forward to it each year,” says race founder Julie Marchese. “I believe that the excitement has only grown from town to town within our state. Our state rallies around the event, rather than just the towns in which it takes place.”

Registration for this year’s Tri for a Cure maxed out in May at approximately 1,400 women, Marchese says. She figures that, come July 18, roughly 10,000 women will have taken part in the Tri since its inception. Those women have raised millions of dollars for the Maine Cancer Foundation, the race’s beneficiary. Last year $1.5 million was raised for a total of about $8.5 million through the eighth year, Marchese said. Each year, “our goal is to beat the year before.” If the Tri meets its aim for 2016, it will approach or surpass the $10 million mark.

Spectators line the SMCC seawall to watch the swim portion of last year's Tri.
Spectators line the SMCC seawall to watch the swim portion of last year’s Tri.

The course itself hasn’t changed much in recent years. “We have a great race course,” says Marchese. “Major changes in the course are difficult. We’ve worked over the years with each of the towns to find a course that’s safe and easy to manage with the police and other safety support.” The festivities and goodies surrounding the event, however, continue to evolve. “The only thing we like to change is the fun stuff. Fundraising prizes, free fun giveaways, entertainment, stuff like that,” Marchese says.

Fundraising prizes this year include custom necklaces, GoPros
and more. Race packets should be picked up between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Expo Day, July 16, at Southern Maine Community College.

“Expo Day is a chance for [athletes] to see what the race transition areas and course flow look like,” says Marchese. “It helps calm nerves, gives a last chance to raise questions and is another day of celebration.”

_DSC0043Participants also pick up their fundraising prizes and get to talk with other Tri women during Expo Day. They bring their bicycles and leave them overnight so they don’t have to bring them on race day. While Marchese’s race at this point is a Maine institution, she herself is something of an expert on triathlon prep. “I could give you a whole magazine full of tips, but the most important is: Don’t do anything new on race day. Don’t wear anything you have not trained in, don’t eat anything you have not trained with – nothing new! It will make your race day that much more successful.”

Also, “Learn the rules of the road on your bike. Obey traffic laws; ride with traffic on the right-hand side of the road; always wear a helmet; don’t ride with earbuds and music – you can’t hear traffic, and on race day you’ll be disqualified if you wear them (even on the run); always check your tire pressure and refill before each ride; carry a spare tube and CO2 refill.”


Parking for the Tri can be a challenge in itself. On the upside, over the past eight years, coordinators have largely hammered the parking situation into a science. Parking is available in the SMCC student and visitor parking area, off Broadway, and in the field across from that parking.

VIP parking is at the Breakwater parking lot on Madison Street and at the Cottage Road Service Center. Also reserved are the Spring Point Marina parking lot on Madison and the Allagash International Group parking lot on Madison, according to race founder Julie Marchese. The Tri’s parking volunteer is Bobby Donnelly.

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