With the sixth annual Tri for a Cure triathlon set for July 21, Julie Marchese, who has overseen the race since its inception, has been working to find ways to update and improve the course along the shores of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.
Founded in 2008 by Marchese, Tri for a Cure is the largest triathlon in Maine and continues to grow. The race includes a one-third-mile swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 3-mile run.
“This year, Tri for a Cure will have a few facelifts,” Marchese said. “Over the years we have changed a few things and this year is no different.”
The first two legs have not been changed from last year’s format. First, triathletes will plunge into the ocean off the beach at Spring Point in South Portland. The swim forms a triangle, heading out along the breakwater near Spring Point Light and doubling back.
From there, participants will jump on their bikes and head down Fort Road to Preble Street, continuing south to Shore Road all the way past Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth. They will take Shore Road until it reaches Route 77 and continue south past Crescent Beach. Route 77 and Sawyer Street make up the rest of the bike course, as participants will continue on Sawyer until it crosses Cottage Road in South Portland and eventually circles back to Preble Street.
This year’s changes occur during the 3-mile run portion of the triathlon. Beginning at SMCC, Marchese says much of the run will occur in an opposite route from previous years.
“The footprint of the run is the same,” she said. “But after you get off the campus, it’s backward.”
As the athletes run out of transition, they will take a left up McKernan Drive, then take a right back down Fort Road and follow the course out of campus the same as years past. The next turn, a left on Broadway, marks the beginning of the course changes. From this point on, participants will do the course backward.
From Broadway they will take a right to Preble Street Extension, a right to Green Belt Trail and then down Madison on the left-hand side of the road and into Bug Light Park in the opposite direction as year’s past.
Marchese also said they have changed where participants will run in the park.
“We have eliminated the stairs in the park,” she said. “Some may remember the theme from ‘Rocky’ being played on top of the stairs. I’m sure we will find another place in which to find your inner Rocky Balboa.”
After leaving Bug Light Park, runners will travel up Madison on the left side of the road and take a left onto Breakwater and back across Broadway to the SMCC campus. From there, the route from previous years will be used until the new finish line.
Runners will come out of the campus trail in front of the cafeteria, and make a U-turn to Shoreway Lane, which is the site of the new finish line.
“In previous years the finish line was on the field,” Marchese said. “Our vendors and Athlete Village will be up near the Culinary Arts & Campus Center Buildings.”
Marchese added that this year’s changes were made more for logistical purposes, avoiding crossovers among the multitudes of participants.
“It just makes the course easier to manage,” she said. “It’ll be a great day.”
The race is a benefit for the Maine Cancer Foundation.
A closer look
Tri for a Cure triathlon, a benefit for the Maine Cancer Foundation, is is Sunday, July 21, starting at 8 a.m., at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. The race includes:
Swim (1/3 mile)
Starting on the beach at Spring Point Head Light, athletes will do a counterclockwise triangular swim in a protected ocean cove that finishes on the same beach.
Following the swim there will be a mini-transition area set up for athletes to remove wetsuits and slip on running shoes for a short run to the bike transition area.
Bike (15 miles)
The bike segment loops through portions of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.
Run (3.1 miles)
The run begins at the transition area and ends by Shoreway Lane.
Relays consists of two or three members. Each team must swim, bike and run. Each member will complete one or two legs of the race. Each team will have one timing chip.
For more information, see www.mainetriforacure.org.