SASKATOON – It’s been over five years since Marlene Antoniuk lost her battle with lymphoma cancer. Although she may be gone, she certainly hasn’t been forgotten.
Marlene volunteered each year with her daughter Tammy Fleming at the ‘Just Try It’ triathlon to introduce women to the sport.
“She volunteered. She was always at the registration table, smiling face, cheering everyone on,” Fleming said.
In her memory, family and friends host the annual “Makin’ It Happen” mini triathlon. Tammy is the race director.
“My mom battled cancer with the spirit of a triathlete. She had incredible endurance and enthusiasm and that’s really what it takes to do a triathlon,” Fleming said.
The day was filled with positive energy, encouragement and pushed women to step out of their comfort zone.
“Together they’re able to accomplish something that maybe they thought they could never do,” Fleming explained.
Darcie Gravel has been doing the triathlon for five years and said it’s the perfect opportunity to make yourself proud.
“Regardless of what your athletic ability is, regardless of how strong you are, regardless of where you’re at. Everybody can finish it and feel that accomplishment when they cross the finish line and be like, ‘you I totally did it’,” Gravel said.
Many of the women were running with friends and family. Often the triathlon is held on Mother’s Day.
This year, one group of women stood out. Four friends decided to take the plunge, with the promise to cross the finish line together.
“For the four of us to do this together, we’ve been friends for twenty-five years so for us to accomplish something like this and sneak it in before forty is awesome,” said triathlete Melanie Stare.
“I think it’s a really healthy decision for us, instead of drinking wine we’re getting out and doing something healthy — and then we drink wine after,” said triathlete Heather Hutchison.
There’s definitely something to celebrate. Each triathlete swims 200 metres, bikes six kilometres and runs two kilometres.
“It’s just this great feeling of accomplishment, something I’ve never done before and I’m really proud,” said triathlete Jessica Hughes.
“It’s been a wonderful experience and we’re working to challenge ourselves. Every year we’re going to come back and do it better,” added triathlete Char Welgush.
Proving this fun event does start a passion for the sport, which is exactly what Marlene would have wanted.