Sunday, March 9, 2014
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 (www.bayoffundymarathon.com) 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 RuntoWin.com 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 www.mainerunning.com). 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.
There are no black flies on the Sub 5 Track Club or its 13-race series co-sponsored by TradeWinds Market Place. The series got a jump-start on 2013 with the Dec. 31, 2012, Epic Finale 5K and the Flattop 5K and the FinishLynx Orrington 10K (won last Saturday by Erik McCarthy, 31, of Old Town in 33:48, and Sarah Mulcahy, 27, of Baring Plantation in 39:46, for ninth place overall) have already gone by.
Next up is the legendary Cobscook Bay 10K ("America's Easternmost") at Pembroke, starting time 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 1. There's a 5K as well, same starting time. And a picnic/salmon feed after, a la Bloater Bash. Course records in the 10K are held by Cake (33:09, 2008) and Elizabeth Brunton of Birch Harbor (39:17 in 2010).
Contact race director Jon Aretakis at 726-5858 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TradeWinds/Sub 5 series concludes Nov. 17 with the Turkey Trot 5K in Brewer. See www.sub5.com for more details on races and info on so-far series leaders. Overall winners last year were Adam Goode of Bangor and Kristine Guaraldo of South Portland.
Speaking of races up the coast, where gorgeous scenery and challenging topography go together like the Red Sox and injured pitchers, the new Acadia National Park Half Marathon, on Sunday, June 2, filled about a month ago, said race director Becky Carroll. The MDI YMCA-managed race is capped at 250, at the behest of the numbers-limiting national park service to whom the Y is beholden (just as the Y's September half-marathon is capped, at 400).
"You're about 200th on the list" of callers and emailers to inquire about the June race, Carroll noted. There is no waiting list, and the registration option of raising $200 for a send-a-kid-to-camp fundraiser has also filled.
On the other hand, Carroll said the fall MDI YMCA half-marathon on Saturday, Sept. 21, is not yet full, but has about 10 spots left. If -- er when -- the race fills, there'll be $10 raffle tickets, for one entry, available. For the moment, go to www.mdiymca.org to sign up.
John Rolfe of Portland is a road runner. He can be reached at 791-6429 or at: