On a spectacular early autumn Sunday morning, Andrew Van Hoogenstyn and Tracy Guerrette pulled off a pair of surprises in the 26th edition of the Maine Marathon.

Van Hoogenstyn, a 2002 graduate of Scarborough High now living in New Haven, Connecticut, came from nearly four minutes behind to catch a wilting front-runner on Portland’s Baxter Boulevard less than a mile from the finish line and win the men’s race in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 58 seconds.

Guerrette, a St. Agatha native who played basketball at the University of Maine and now lives in Bangor, knocked nearly 15 minutes off her previous marathon best and achieved the Olympic Trials qualifying standard by clocking 2:43:47. Her time is second in race history to Emily LeVan’s course record of 2:39:34 set in 2004.

“The time was right where I thought I could do,” said Van Hoogenstyn, who ran the second half faster than the first 13.1 miles, “but I knew I’d have to have a perfect day.”

He smiled beneath a wreath of laurels.

“We got a perfect day.”

Indeed, there was barely a hint of a breeze when the race started at 7:45 under clear blue skies and a temperature of 44 degrees. Sunlight glistened off the water filling Back Cove as runners began their trek north along Route 1 and then Route 88 in Falmouth through Cumberland before looping back in Yarmouth. More than 700 made it all 26.2 miles. Another 1,700 turned around in Falmouth for the half marathon. There were also 148 marathon relay teams.

FAST START AND A MISSTEP

Nick Mangan, a 29-year-old from Minnesota who won the 2014 MDI Marathon in Bar Harbor, was among those who turned around at the orange traffic cone in Falmouth. Mangan, who forgot his watch, was following just behind 2016 Maine Marathon champ Spencer McElwain of Portland.

They started running back toward Portland when Mangan said, “Wait, you’re not doing the full?”

“He kind of freaked out and turned around,” said McElwain, who wound up third in the half behind course-record holder Jonny Wilson of Falmouth and 2014 Maine Marathon champion Moninda Marube of Auburn. “Poor guy. I felt bad because we were running a 5:15 pace. That’s a painful way to run a marathon.”

Mangan led the marathon field through the halfway mark in 1:11:05. Meanwhile, Van Hoogenstyn, 33, methodically churned out miles at a 5:40 pace in hopes of breaking two-and-a-half hours for the first time.

Three years ago in Philadelphia, Van Hoogenstyn ran 2:30:45. Then he contracted Lyme disease and got injured.

“This year I decided to put in a little more mileage and come back to Maine,” he said. “My family still lives here. I just thought, ‘Hey, if I could break 2:30 in Maine, that would be sweet.’ ”

When Von Hoogenstyn passed the halfway mark in 1:14:48, Mangan (following a blue-flashing police cruiser and electric pace car) was nowhere in sight. However, his jackrabbit start – and the hilly course – began to take a toll.

“I was really struggling at the end,” Mangan said. “It was rough. I was dragging.”

MAKING THE PASS

Even so, Mangan crossed the Martin’s Point Bridge and returned to Portland along Veranda Street with no sign of Van Hoogenstyn. Victory appeared inevitable. But while Van Hoogenstyn had picked up his pace, Mangan slowed.

“I figured I’d get second,” Van Hoogenstyn said, “but I wanted to break 2:30. All of a sudden, when we hit the Boulevard, he appeared.”

So surprising was Van Hoogenstyn’s appearance to Mangan’s left, near a water stop cluttered with half marathon stragglers where a median appears on Baxter Boulevard not long after leaving Payson Park, that Mangan’s bicycle escort temporarily remained with him, assuming Van Hoogenstyn was part of a relay team.

Mangan knew better.

“I kind of saw his facial expression,” Van Hoogenstyn said. “He looked at me and then was like, ‘Awww.’ ”

Less than a mile remained, but the race was over. Buoyed, the bearded Van Hoogenstyn, with his yellow-framed sunglasses and still wearing gloves from the morning chill, surged toward a crowd that had been expecting someone else. The winning margin turned out to be nearly two minutes, as Mangan hobbled across the line in 2:30:54.

“I don’t know where he came from,” Mangan said later. “He killed it at the end and I dropped so hard. Props to him.”

The victory was worth $1,000 for Van Hoogenstyn. Mangan, whose wife Melissa placed fifth among women in 3:16:55, earned $500 and plans to spend the week camping in Deer Isle. Taylor Days-Merrill of Fairhaven, Massachusetts was third (worth $250) in 2:33:32 followed five minutes later by two-time champion Evan Graves of Caribou.

OVERWHELMED AND VERY THANKFUL

As for Guerrette, who celebrated her 37th birthday a day earlier (with no cake, because she’s been avoiding sugars and other empty calories for the past two months), she knelt after crossing the finish line to give thanks. Fifteen years earlier, on this same course, she had completed her first marathon, wearing baggy basketball shorts and a cotton T-shirt, accompanied by her brother Jamie. It took them 4 hours and 20 minutes.

At Wisdom High School in St. Agatha, Guerrette had played soccer, basketball and softball. In college, she was a 5-foot-9 shooting guard who arrived just after the departure of Cindy Blodgett and, as a freshman, helped the UMaine upset Stanford in the 1999 NCAA Tournament.

“I wanted to win this race,” she said, “because it’s the state marathon. It’s a bucket-list (item).”

Guerrette entered a convent in 2013 preparing to become a nun. Instead, six months later, she left, and now works as Director of Faith Formation at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor.

“For me, it’s such a gift from God to be able to run,” she said. “Every time I run, I really feel His presence.”

Guerrette began training in earnest in 2014 and in early August placed third among Maine women at the Beach to Beacon 10K. Later that month, she broke 1:20 at a half marathon in Quebec City. Working with her coach, Rob Gomez of Windham, she figured the Olympic Trials qualifying standard of 2:45 was within reach.

“That was my goal,” she said. “If I blow up big, I blow up big. I was pretty much in prayer the last couple miles, just asking God to give me extra strength and grace. I was just overwhelmed and very thankful.”

Guerrette also won $1,000 for the victory. Christine Hein, 42, of North Yarmouth was the only other woman to break three hours, earning $500 for her 2:54:22. Evan Adams, 25, of Tennessee was third in 3:07:09, taking home $250.

REPEAT WINNER IN MEN’S HALF

For his second straight half-marathon victory, in 1:07:20, Wilson earned $500. Marube ($250) was second in 1:07:37 and McElwain ($150) third in 1:09:31.

Equivalent prize money went to the top three women, Sheri Piers of Falmouth in 1:21:31, Erica Jesseman of Scarborough (1:23:04) and Amy Tortorello of Somerville, Massachusetts (1:23:26).

“It was wonderful to be on a home course,” Hein said. “There’s tons of encouragement out there. My kids came out and had ridiculous signs, cheering for me. And the conditions couldn’t have been better.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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