March 11, 2010

Taking a rough way to Boston


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Doug Jones/staff photographer: Tuesday, April 14, 2008: Seth Bradbury of Boston, and Portlander, Will Thomas, right, plan to kayak and bike their way to the Boston Marathon from Peaks Island to run in the Patriots Day event.

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — To get from Maine to the starting line of the 113th Boston Marathon, you could take a bus. You could take a train. You could take a car.

Or if your day job is putting on triathlons, as is the case with Will Thomas, you could find a more creative, less motorized means of transportation.

Thomas, the founder of Tri-Maine Productions, and his friend, Seth Bradbury, a representative for an energy drink company, plan to reach the marathon's finish line near Copley Square on Monday first by kayaking from Peaks Island to Portland, then by riding their bicycles from Portland to the town green in Hopkinton, Mass., and finally running the 26 miles and 385 yards into downtown Boston.

Oh, and they plan to stop at two pubs along the way, at the Ri Ra Irish Pub on Commercial Street in Portland and the Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire, where well-wishers can win prizes, including Red Sox tickets, by correctly predicting split times, to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine.

''There's no good reason to do it,'' said Thomas, 28, of an adventure they're calling EpicMan to tie in with the Portland (July 18) and Boston (Aug. 16) Urban Epic events planned for this summer. ''We were just challenging each other.''

Thomas and Bradbury, both 28, grew up in New York and New Hampshire, respectively. They became friendly during the three years Bradbury lived in Portland after graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 2003.

Bradbury has moved to Boston, but he was in the Downtown Lounge on Congress Street with Thomas and some friends last fall, shortly after Bradbury completed his first official marathon -- in Berlin, Germany -- in 2 hours and 55 minutes.

''We were feeling on top of the world,'' said Thomas, who has four marathons and one Ironman triathlon under his belt.

The conversation swung to Boston, and Thomas observed that the distance between the cities is nearly perfect for an Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride, as well as a marathon.

''You won't do it,'' said one.

''You won't do it,'' said the other.

''I will if you will.''

Months later came the emphasis on sustainability, charity and self-promotion for Tri-Maine and the Urban Epic events. For at its core, this is a bar bet.

''I'm really glad Seth and his company were able to turn his stupid little bet into a good cause,'' Bradbury said. ''I think it's pretty cool that the owner of these (triathlon) events is able to take part in the things he preaches.''

Bradbury's time in Germany qualified him for Boston. Thomas, who ran 3:21 in the 2007 Boston race and 3:24 in last fall's Maine Marathon (the qualifying standard for men his age is 3:10) secured his bib through a charitable donation.

Members of the Tri-Maine staff will follow the 135-mile bike portion in two support vehicles should Thomas or Bradbury require mechanical or medical assistance, in addition to food, drink and a lighted path.

''The parties are open to the public,'' said a Tri-Maine publicist, Amy Van Haren. ''The goal is to bring out all kinds of active, adventurous people, or anyone who simply wants to cheer them on.''

A third party is planned in Boston, at the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill on Boylston Street, not far from marathon finish line.

The adventure is scheduled to start at about 2:45 p.m. Sunday from Peaks. Maine Island Kayak Company guides will escort them on a roughly 3-mile paddle -- being careful to avoid shipping channels -- across the bay to the wharves off Commercial Street. Considering Friday's ocean temperature in Portland was 43 degrees, they'll wear surfer wet suits.

With good weather, the bike ride from Portland to Portsmouth should take about 3 hours, and another 4 or 5 are planned for the trip from Portsmouth to Hopkinton. The crew is bringing a tent and sleeping bags, should an early arrival allow for a few hours of sleep.

''I'm planning on zero,'' said Bradbury, who ran his first marathon on a whim after spending the night on a friend's couch in Kittery and using a computer to plot a 13.1-mile out-and-back course.

''If I get 10 minutes, that would be awesome.''

They plan to run in Boston's second wave of runners, scheduled to depart Hopkinton at 10:30 a.m., and, if all goes well, turn onto Boylston Street roughly 4 hours later, which would conclude their odyssey in a neat 24 hours.

It's possible they'll cross the finish line hand in hand. More likely they'll see the line, glance at each other, and mutter, ''All right, it's go time,'' Bradbury said. ''That is, if we have anything left.''

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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