May 12, 2013

Running: Another Maine road-race season is up and running

By John Rolfe

With the onset of spring comes the full May flowering of Maine races, and among them is the first Smolt Bolt and Bloater Bash 4-miler.

This 4-mile Downeast Sunrise Trail race at East Machias may be the state's most poetically titled. It is sponsored by the Downeast Coastal Conservancy and, as race director Maria McMorrow notes, is followed by a cookout, which features whole smoked alewives (bloaters) and celebrates the smolts who are at present running, i.e. rushing to the ocean to fulfill their destinies, in numbers rivaled only by the state's road racers.

The Bash was held Saturday morning, but if you're looking for a Sunrise County-plus race, consider the inaugural Bay of Fundy International Marathon (and 10K) on Sunday, June 23.

McMorrow, a Freeport native, is training for the marathon, whose website ( describes the course as "a combination point-to-point (West Quoddy Head to Lubec) and out-and-back (from the FDR Memorial Bridge to Head Harbour lighthouse and back)." Sounds like a brilliant addition to the Maine race calendar.

Next Sunday sees the 31st straight year for the state's oldest-running 26.2-miler, the Sugarloaf Marathon, from Eustis to Kingfield at Carrabassett Valley.

Sugarloaf also has the distinction of having hosted the second-fastest marathon on Maine soil: 2:18:37, by the late Bruce Ellis, a Maine Running Hall of Famer, in 1986. (The fastest in Maine was Rolande Davide's 2:15:13 at the 1983 Maine Coast Marathon, which is reborn and being run today after not having been held since 1987).

Last year, Evan Graves, 30, of Caribou was the Sugarloaf winner, in 2:33:06; 43-year-old Robert Ashby of Brunswick was second in 2:43. Only five men finished under three hours.

Meredith Freimer, 33, of Portland was the women's winner in 3:07:59, good for 19th place overall among 574 finishers.

In the 15K, with 489 finishers, Judson Cake of Bar Harbor won in 47:47 and Marie-Caro Cote of Montreal was the top woman, and sixth overall, in 59:20:2.

I'm not sure how many years it takes to make a tradition, especially in Maine, but the Weekly Back Cove 5K series, about to launch its 11th season, must be getting close. The Wednesday event on Baxter Boulevard in Portland kicks off at 6 p.m. on May 29 and continues for 14 races, concluding on Aug. 28.

Pretty much nothing has changed from last year -- the $20 fee that goes to Portland Trails, the 10 shirts distributed each week, the Maine Running Co. sponsorship, the Stu Palmer stewardship, the four pairs of running shoes to series winners (male and female). Last year, Blaine Moore of says, Erich Neuts and Susannah Beck, averaging 16:42 and 18:10 respectively, were tops. Beck broke the women's record for the third time in 2012, with a 17:49 in the final race. Community spirit winner David Colby Young was honored with two pairs of shoes.

As before, the growing-every-year event is capped at 250 per race, so it's a good idea to register/reserve your spot each week at If anything's different, it's the roadwork near Payson Park that is requiring some little detours on the running path. But as Ryan Heisler of MRC mentioned, race distances are minimums, so a few steps longer is still the official distance. In fact, after running the Boston Marathon last year, Heisler discovered on his Garmin that he'd run 26.65 miles because of not being able to run the tangents.

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