More than 200 American Indian women from the Red Lake Nation, Lac Courte Oreilles, White Earth Ojibwe, Mohawk, Leech Lake and others recently took part in the Kwestrong Indigenous Women’s Triathlon at Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis.

Before the triathlon, participants received a blessing on the beach, where they were smudged with sacred herbs by elders. Then, they paddled canoes, biked three times around the lake and ran a 5K to finish under a banner with the words “Mino-bimaadiziwin,” an Anishinaabe phrase which means “the good life.”

“Your finish is your start to the good life,” explained triathlon founder Lisa Skjefte.

This was the seventh annual Kwestrong triathlon, which Skjefte explained means “strong woman” in Ojibwe. It’s also a gathering place for all women.

As is the event.

“The act of gathering is sacred,” said Skjefte, who started the event as a way for indigenous women to come together with a sense of community, health and healing.

“Some of the women said it felt like a family reunion,” she said.