SOUTH PORTLAND — The rain and wind may have kept some signs and other pieces of encouragement in cars, as well as the youngest supporters at home.

But it didn’t diminish the support from the crowds or the solidarity among participants in the Tri for a Cure – the women-only triathlon on the campus of Southern Maine Community College that consists of a one-third mile swim, 3-mile run and 15-mile bike ride.

“This race is a competition, but really it’s more about camaraderie in knowing we are all in this (fight) together,” said Katherine Killoran of Rockport, the first survivor across the finish line in 1 hour, 29 minutes, 36 seconds.

Killoran, a four-year breast and cervical cancer survivor, competed in the event for the second time.

“It’s nice to be surrounded by so much positive energy from women who are looking at each other both as competitors and as friends,” said Joan Cohen, 56, of Portland, a five-year survivor of colon cancer and a four-time participant.

The Maine Cancer Foundation event – all the money stays in the state – saw more than 1,300 entries while raising close to $2 million, the largest day fundraising event in Maine.

Julie Marchese, the race director and a breast cancer survivor, started the race 11 years ago when she was on the board of MCF. She said it started by raising $175,000, easily exceeding the $35,000 goal. In all, more than $14 million has been raised.

“When I did my first triathlon as a survivor, I believed that Maine needed this,” she said. “It’s been a success from the start.

“I’m honored to have been the one to raise my hand to start the event, but more honored to know that the women believed in the mission and have made the event what it is today.”

The overall winner in 1:15:11 was Lindsay Roskelley, 36, of Falmouth, who also won last year.

She said there’s a lot of time to think on the course as she, like everyone, has been touched by cancer numerous times. One person who continually came to mind isn’t related to her but is extremely important.

Erin Croxford is a nurse at Maine Medical Center who cared for Roskelley’s daughter for five weeks when the daughter was born two months premature.

Croxford was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and ran in the Tri for the first time as a survivor this year.

“Last year when I crossed the finish line I saw a T-shirt that said ‘I just finished chemo on Friday and you can finish this race.’ That really puts everything into perspective,” Roskelley said. “This race means so much to me that I can help support (Erin and others).”

One of the younger competitors was 19-year-old Nicole Whipkey of Portland. In 2017 she ran a faster time than her 1:26:11, but Sunday’s event was more personal.

“My stepmother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said emotionally.

She added that it was meaningful to her to run, bike and swim next to older women who have gone through cancer treatments, and have lost friends and family to the disease.

“I think it’s important for the younger generation to participate, too, so we can help raise money (and hopefully) don’t have to go through what unfortunately many others have gone through,” she said.

Julie George, Whipkey’s stepsister on her father’s side, also took part in her second Tri for a Cure. She said she was not only able to support the many people going through the ordeal but also gained a community from her training for the race.

“I’ve met so many awesome girls who have been so inspirational,” said George, 37, of Windham. “I trained with a group who got up at 5:15 a.m. We talked about so much (and cancer) and just had so much camaraderie.”

Melissa Savage, a 16-year breast cancer survivor, took part in the relay with Debra Shields, her partner, and Crystal Mockler. She’s finished the Pan Mass challenge and other cancer fundraisers but felt this one was especially important for her home state.

“Maine has a high (rate) of cancer. To know that this supports the community and families is vital,” she said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.