Racing with her daughter's memory

Over 800 athletes will gather in Herzliya to compete in an all-women triathlon, held in honor of Tamar Dvoskin, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while training for a race.

water race 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
water race 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel's annual women's triathlon is not only a race that honors the memory of a female triathlete who was tragically killed at age 21 by a hit-and-run driver, it is a celebration for women. "Last year, 686 women from age eight to 72, in all shapes and sizes, participated in the triathlon," said Susie Dvoskin of Kfar Saba, whose family helps organize the race in honor of her late daughter, Tamar. Dvoskin says that the cost of registration for the event is kept affordable to enable as many women as possible to attend. The goal of the race is not only to cross the finish line, but also to "encourage women to feel proud of themselves in a way they never thought possible." The triathlon, now in its 15th year, will be held in Herzliya on Saturday, May 31, with more than 800 women expected to take part. The event is divided into several categories, including a race for girls; a shorter race consisting of a 500-meter swim, an eight-kilometer bike ride and a 2.5-kilometer run; and the "sprint" race, which comprises a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bicycle ride and a five-kilometer run. Dvoskin, who was born in California and has lived in Israel for the past 30 years with her Israeli-born husband, Danny, says she puts her heart and soul into organizing the race as a way to honor Tamar's memory. She recounts that Tamar participated in the nation's first women's triathlon in 1994, and encouraged her mother, then 47 and a non-athlete, to join her. After that race, Tamar became a dedicated athlete. She participated in relay teams with her older brother, Oren, and then she was drafted into the IDF, serving in a Nahal unit. "She was stationed in an army base near Jericho and she still trained," her mother says. "She used to run around the periphery of the base with two armed soldier escorts." Dvoskin says that in August 1996, after Tamar completed her army service, she made a date to meet for a training bicycle ride along the Ayalon Highway, despite protests from her boyfriend that it was dangerous. "All it takes is one car," Dvoskin says in a telephone interview with a catch in her throat. "The driver was a seasoned criminal in a car someone else had rented for him, driving without a driver's license." After hitting Tamar, the driver hesitated, then drove away. He was apprehended four years later, but by that time, the evidence against him was no longer valid. He was never convicted. "But my husband and I don't put any energy into thinking about him," Dvoskin says. "It's better not to think about revenge, because it won't change the fact that Tamar is dead." "The sorrow doesn't go away," she says. Instead, the Dvoskin family focuses on organizing the women's triathlon event and bringing positive energy to other women in what she calls a "ripple effect." "There's a Jewish maxim that if you save one soul, you save the world," Dvoskin says. "At the triathlon, women who never knew Tamar have a part of Tamar in them." Her daughter's spirit, Dvoskin says, gave her the drive to continue training and competing in other triathlons. Her own proudest moment, she said, was taking part in the 1995 Maccabiah games in Israel. "Walking into the stadium and hearing the spectators cheering for the Israeli team was a moment I will never forget," Dvoskin - who came in second out of five competitors - says. "I feel that my experience proves to other women that if I can do it, they can, too." In most triathlons, Dvoskin says, men are usually the center of attention and there's a competitive atmosphere. But at this event, "the husbands are cheering on the sidelines." She said that many men have asked her to open up the event to include male participants, but Dvoskin feels that what makes the triathlon special is the fact that it's women-only. She recounts that at her first triathlon with Tamar, when they crossed the finish line, she and her daughter said to each other that every woman who crossed that line was a winner. "That's when we came up with the slogan, 'Every woman a winner,'" Dvoskin says. "And this slogan imbues the triathlon with its special spirit." One of this year's participants is Dalia Michaeli, 52, of Holon, who says that last year's triathlon was her first. Now, she's hooked. "I've changed my whole life around since then," she said. "I've changed my job, the people I'm in contact with, my work." Never athletic, Michaeli recounts that she only started walking for exercise to keep her husband company. Three months before last year's women's triathlon, she decided to give it a try. "At that moment on the finish line, I had a 'wow' moment," she said. "I always thought that at my age, my body would start to decline, but the opposite is true. I'm building my body up. I feel better physically at 52 than I did at 16." For further information on Israel's women's triathlon and to register for the event, go to: