Jimmy Buffet’s greatest hits blared over big, black loudspeakers.
Dogs barked and tugged on their leashes.
Little boys roughhoused.
Sunday’s sun-drenched 10th Annual Barbara Schmidt Millar Celebration of Life women’s triathlon near Scotts Flat Reservoir had the feel of a block party.
Odds are most of those in attendance had never met Schmidt Millar – a nurse who died of cancer in 1995 at the age of 42 – but according to those who knew the happy-go-lucky soul, that’s just the way she would have wanted it.
“Oh, she must be so thrilled (looking down on us),” said event volunteer Kathy DiMaggio, who played against Schmidt Millar in an area adult rec volleyball league. “The event has gotten bigger (every year). Her energy has just traveled so far.
“The best thing about this event is no matter what abilities the women have, they try their hardest. And that’s what it takes to beat cancer.”
Schmidt Millar’s longtime friend and main event organizer, Kathy Anderson-Meyers, said while the triathlon has raised more than $150,000 for both breast cancer screening services and college scholarships in the eight years it’s been open to the public, its impact has gone much deeper.
She points to the rising number of first-time competitors she sees every year.
“I see so many out there. It’s wonderful because that means they’re all (becoming more active),” she said. “I was out on the bike course, and it was so sweet to see how everyone supports and encourages each other. The camaraderie was incredible.”
‘Anytime you can get 400 women in the same place, (doing something like this), it’s great,” she added.
The triathlon started off as strictly a Nevada County affair, but Anderson-Meyers knew there was no way area residents would be able keep it to themselves for too long.
“Even though we tried to keep this a local event, the word of mouth has brought people from (all over),” she said.
While the majority of the field hail from the foothills, competitors from as far east as Reno and as far west as San Francisco made the trip to Cascade Shores neighborhood, just south of the reservoir.
Kate Theroux, a nurse from the Sacramento suburb of Fair Oaks, competed in her fourth “Celebration” since 1999.
“I did it for the first time five years ago and I loved it. I vowed to myself I would do every year,” she said. “I was a lot of fun. Everybody really enjoyed themselves.”
“All of the volunteers were so happy, encouraging,” she continued. “There was a point where I was turning the corner during the run and one of them said I looked so happy. Everybody was so nice today, I just couldn’t help it.”
Bob Kremple, who has volunteered for the event for the past six years, said he’s more than happy to give up his Sunday morning to lend a hand.
“The great thing about this event is it allows women of all (fitness levels) to participate,” the Nevada City resident said. ” I think that’s encouraging because you don’t have to be a marathon runner to be out here.”
Keith Jiron is a sportswriter for The Union. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 477-4244.
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