Women celebrate life at the 19th annual Barbara Schmidt Millar triathlon | TheUnion.com

Women celebrate life at the 19th annual Barbara Schmidt Millar triathlon

Brian Shepard
Sports Writer

Women athletes made their way through the streets amongst the majestic firs, pines and cedars at Cascade Shores at Scott's Flat Lake Sunday morning, striding toward the finish line with jubilant spirits as they competed in the 19th annual Barbara Schmidt Millar Celebration of Life Women's Triathlon.

Every step of the way spectators lining the course would shout something like, "Good job" or "Come on, you can do it!" — words of encouragement to fuel the participants as they sacrificed energy to continue onward and celebrate life over those affected by cancer.

On hand was 93-year-old Shirley Schmidt, mother of Barbara Schmidt Millar. Schmidt has attended most of the events off and on over the years. and was sincerely appreciative of all the community had done since the passing of her beloved daughter.

"I'm amazed," said Schmidt. "(Millar) was a good friend of these friends, but it's just exploded. A lot of people come up to me and tell me they knew her and she was a good kid. (I love) the atmosphere – everything is up — enthusiasm, support and families — everything like that. I don't feel like I've done anything except have Barbara."

As for the race itself, it was nothing short of competitive as 34 athletes poured out everything they had to finish the half-mile swim, 11-mile bike ride and 3-mile run with a time of 90 minutes or better. Earning the top spot and crossing the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes, 7 seconds was Michelle McIntosh.

"This was my first (Barbara Schmidt Millar) race in nine years," said McIntosh. "I had a neck injury. I won it three years in a row before that. My daughter, Josephine, is 18 so this is her first year, so I wanted to be able to do it with her. I have some friends with cancer and some I have lost the last two years, so I'm very motivated to be out here. If I was going to do one more race, this would be it."

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Josephine Falvey, daughter of McIntosh, represented the family quite well, too, coming in third place overall with a time of 1:14.18. She enjoyed her experience on the course as much as the competition.

"I saw (my mom) once," said Falvey, who will be joining the Triathlon Club and row team at UC Davis this fall. "Yeah I was just going to do it for fun, then I started running with my mom. It's pretty cool. Every corner has someone cheering for you. I've done other triathlons that aren't like that. It makes it fun."

Coming in close behind McIntosh was Maria Flor Hodges, who also competed last week in the Half Iron Man World Championship in Las Vegas, Nev., against 2,300 participants, which made her time of 1:13.05 all the more impressive.

"It's my third year here," said Hodges between hugging and congratulating fellow competitors. "I'm sore this year because last weekend I did the Half Iron Man in Vegas. I have a lot of support from friends and family — and our Tri-Club is here today. I enjoy this event more."

Winning the team relays was Stomp, comprised with the trio of Jenna DeYoung (swimmer), Christine Arneson (cyclist) and Sara Freitas (runner). They finished with a time of 1:11.45. Not too far behind were Dana Haldeman, Kim Thomasson and Jenã Kline. Their team, Approaching Heaven, dedicated their performance to a dear friend.

"We're dedicating this to Danielle Slade, who passed away of breast cancer," said Thomasson. "We always wanted to do a triathlon."

It was definitely a day of shared experiences and heartfelt love as women came together.

"It was fun," Kline said. "It was neat to be out here with all the ladies for that cause."

In the 3-mile Run/Walk race, there were even more stories to be told from its participants.

Lillian Llacer and Karin Kaufman teamed up at the last minute to give themselves encouragement and pursue the finish line together.

"I'm just happy to be here," Kaufman said. "I was recently diagnosed myself. Lillian is a good friend, nursing her injury, and it's great to have her with me. She's been very supportive. I got off the couch Thursday."

Lots of athletes train and prepare for something like this, but it's not necessary for the fight against cancer to be effective and the community to be heard.

"(Karin) sent me an email asking me to do it," said Llacer. I hadn't been planning on it because of a herniated disc, but yeah, sure I can walk! One of the beauties of the event is that it welcomes everyone."

Taking home first place in the 3-mile Run/Walk segment was Beverley Newman with a speedy time of 21.07. Her resume for competitive running was impressive, but again, it's why these women laced their shoes up that mattered.

"I live in Cascade Shores," said Newman, who enjoyed her first appearance at the Barbara Schmidt Millar triathlon. "I ran a marathon two weeks ago so I decided to run the 5k. It's a good cause. I also ran in the Boston Marathon and at the Sun River Marathon in Oregon."

Taking runner-up behind Newman was Sonja Normann, who has been actively involved with the event for nine years now.

"I alternate between volunteering and competing," Normann said. "I did the triathlon last year and volunteered at kayak. The anticipation you build up for it for so long — swept along in movement and celebration — it's an inspiration. Any fitness level can compete — first or last, you're a winner."

Judy DeMaranville, the team lead for the raffle fundraiser, was excited to report another successful event. She was joined by volunteers Erin Minett and Linda Blevins at the raffle table.

"(Prior to the race) we brought in $900 in individual raffle ticket sales and $1,300 more at the Expo yesterday," said DeMaranville. "I've been running for 10 years and this is my second year doing the raffle. This year 68 business have donated to the event."

The final amount raised from Sunday was still being tallied, but last year's mark of $1,700 has already been surpassed. It's also encouraging to note the money goes toward providing free mammograms to women who cannot afford them, and another portion of the funds are awarded to female graduates at Nevada Union who pursue higher education for careers in healthcare.

"If they're dedicated and can do it, that's great," added Schmidt, referring to young women graduates.

For information visit http://bsmtri.org/.

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