Sisters-in-law tackling Tri for a Cure together

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Jamie Watson left, Beth Watson Favreau, middle, and Johanne Watson, right, will be competing in Sunday’s Tri for a Cure. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Beth Favreau needed some support. She got it from her two sisters-in-law.

Favreau completed the Tri for a Cure individually last year, accomplishing a goal she had set for herself, but to do it again she would need some help.

Fortunately for Favreau, she has two sisters-in-law with whom she is close with who are stepping in to help her participate in the Tri again.

“It will be nice this year to have people with me, because I literally did it by myself,” Favreau, who lives in Auburn, said. “I really didn’t know anybody. So this year it will be nice to have my two sister-in-laws.”

Favreau will be part of a relay team with her sisters-in-law, Johanne and Jamie Watson (Favreau’s maiden name is Watson), who live in Lewiston. Johanne will start the relay with the 1/3-mile ocean swim, Favreau follows with the 15-mile cycling portion, and Jamie Watson will finish up with the 5-kilometer run.

“We talked about them doing it, but one didn’t have a bike, and I really didn’t want to do the swimming portion again for a second time,” Favreau said.

“Last year, when I watched her do the Tri, it was something that I really wanted to do, I just wasn’t sure if I would be able to do the full Tri. I don’t own a bike, so training for that would kind of be hard if I did the full (triathlon),” Jamie Watson said. “So when she suggested that the three of us do it together, I run, so that was an easy choice for me, to say, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it,’ as long as I’d do the running portion.”

“I actually volunteered myself last year after (Beth) finished,” Johanne Watson said. “She said she wasn’t crazy about the swimming part of it, so I said I would do it.”

On Sunday, the three sisters will join more than 1,300 other women in South Portland to tackle the triathlon. How fast they finish as a team won’t be the first thing on their minds, however.

Favreau called it “a really emotional event.”

The Tri for a Cure is run by the Maine Cancer Foundation as a fundraiser for the organization. According to the organization’s website, more than $12 million had been raised in the event’s first 10 years, and as of Thursday afternoon more than $1.8 million had been raised for this year’s event, according to the Tri for a Cure’s Facebook page.

As with just about everybody, the sisters have loved ones who have battled cancer. Among them is the Favreau’s mother (who is Jamie’s and Johanne’s mother-in-law), who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer “almost 11 years ago,” before beating the disease.

“Seeing her go through that, she’s a strong lady, for sure,” Jamie Watson said. “That was difficult for her, but she made a complete recovery, and she didn’t let anything get her down.”

Favreau’s mother is just one of the many inspirations the sisters will use to motivate them Sunday.

Johanne Watson got a taste of that when she did a trial-run swim a couple weeks ago that mimicked the course used for the Tri.

“During the trial run, that’s what kind of kept me going, knowing that if they can beat (cancer), I can certainly swim for a little bit,” Watson said.

Jamie Watson is also planning on using that perspective to her advantage. She hurt herself in a fall six weeks ago at the beginning of the Twilight 5K, which is another fundraiser for the Maine Cancer Foundation. She dislocated her shoulder and has only been able to walk or “slightly” run since the fall.

“On Sunday, I’m going to be writing names on my arm because I’m determined to run the entire 5K without walking,” Watson said. “And that’s just going to be a reminder that those people are strong, and some of them have lost their fight to cancer, but they fought really hard while they were going through it, and that’s just going to be a reminder for me that I’m healthy, I had a little bump on my shoulder, I had a little injury, but it’s nothing compared to what the survivors — and people who didn’t make it — have gone through.”

Besides Favreau’s mother and other friends and family, the three sisters will also be participating to honor Team Michelle, which supports a local woman named Michelle Lemieux, who is battling metastatic breast cancer.

“We’re lucky because we’re able to actually physically swim, bike and run that day, where Michelle can’t and so many women can’t, that I think it would be nice to honor her,” Favreau said. “She’s currently fighting the battle.”

Other women who have already fought the battle will start the event Sunday. Cancer survivors go into the water first — a moment Jamie Watson called powerful and emotional.

Johanne Watson said she’ll have to try to keep herself watching the survivors go into the water ahead of her. Later, Jamie Watson will be finishing the 5K run alongside some of those same survivors, and she said watching them finish is “amazing.”

“They have tons of people there supporting them,” Jamie Watson said.

Sunday, Favreau will have two people supporting her efforts for a second try at the Tri. Not to mention loved ones there in person and in spirit cheering her on.

“I think it will be pretty neat for the three of us to do it together,” Johanne Watson said.

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