October 7, 2013

Maine Marathon holds miles of smiles, memories for runners

Nearly 1,000 runners attempt the marathon, and twice that number take on half the course.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The 22nd running of the Maine Marathon started with a muted air horn, a hesitant lurch by runners unsure if that had truly been the signal, and official timer John Burke yelling, “Go! Go!” in confirmation.

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Runners take off at the start of Maine Marathon and half-marathon in Portland on Sunday. Rob Gomez, second from right, and Moninda Marube, in yellow at center, won the full and half-marathons respectively.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Rob Gomez of Saco receives a hug from his girlfriend, Breagh MacAulay, after winning the Maine Marathon Sunday in a time of 2:24:21 in Portland on Sunday.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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A race for elites, this is not.

On a cool and cloudy Sunday morning that saw temperatures barely break 50 degrees, a pair of 30-year-old Mainers won $500 each as the first man (Rob Gomez of Saco) and woman (Leah Frost of Round Pond) to run the 26.2-mile route from Portland’s Back Cove to Cousins Island in Yarmouth and back.

Gomez earned a $1,000 bonus for finishing in less than 2 hours, 25 minutes – he needed only 2:24:22 – but prizes aren’t the point of this race, which had an altered course this year to avoid construction on the Martin’s Point Bridge connecting Portland and Falmouth.

An abundance of volunteers, well-placed water stops and a diverse assortment of bands sprinkled throughout the course make the marathon – and its concurrent half-marathon and marathon relay – an attraction not only for local runners, but for those with bucket lists. Autumn foliage and ocean views add to the ambiance.

“It’s the premier marathon in Maine,” Gomez said.

Nearly 1,000 runners attempted the marathon, and twice that number turned around an orange traffic cone on Route 88 to run the half-marathon. Among those stopping after 13.1 miles were Mike and Kristin Kiss of suburban Chicago, who had previously run the same distance in races in 49 other states.

Yes, they shared a smooch after finishing in 1:45:23. They managed to break two hours in all 50 races, an odyssey that started in the aftermath of their first half-marathon after previously having run a marathon.

“It was night-and-day different from (the full marathon and) not being able to walk down the stairs,” Mike Kiss said. “I said, ‘Wait a minute. This is fun.’ ”

Moninda Marube, 34, of Auburn won the half-marathon in 1:08:13, and Sarah Mulcahy, 28, of Baring Plantation in Washington County was the first woman to finish, in 1:23:42.

Frost, the women’s marathon winner, had been chasing Mulcahy through the early miles, thinking she was running the full marathon.

“She was the one lady I could see in front of me,” Frost said. “So I was trying to keep her in sight and maybe gain on her a little and then she turned around at the half. I was mad at myself, because I didn’t mean to go out that fast. I definitely slowed after that.”

Even so, Frost completed her first official marathon in a time of 3:00:52, more than three minutes ahead of runner-up Erin Nixon, 24, of Boston.

Gomez enjoyed an even bigger cushion. More than 10 minutes passed before Adam Goode, 30, of Bangor crossed the line in 2:34:38. Cape Elizabeth’s Matt Rand, 22, a recent graduate of Tufts University and due to start a new job Tuesday for U.S. News & World Report in Washington D.C., placed third in his first marathon attempt, at 2:35:14.

A year ago, Gomez invited his friend Dan Vassallo to run the marathon, and Vassallo, a Colby College graduate who lives in Massachusetts, wound up setting a course record.

“I didn’t invite him back,” Gomez said with a wide smile. “I wanted to get a little redemption this year.”

Conditions might not have been ideal for spectators – the sun never broke through clouds that spit out a few intermittent sprinkles – but Gomez was certainly grateful.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “I was worried it was going to rain again, for the third year in a row, but the rain held off and it was perfect.”

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Rob Gomez of Saco receives a congratulations kiss from his mother, Connie, in Portland on Sunday, after winning the Maine Marathon on Sunday.

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Half-marathon winner Moninda Marube, 34, of Auburn crosses the finish line after winning the Maine half-marathon on Sunday in Portland.


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