As the 25th edition of the Maine Marathon reached its midway point Sunday in Yarmouth, Chris Harmon of Portland was the first runner to make the turn and head back to Baxter Boulevard.

The former Scarborough High and University of Maine runner soon realized he didn’t have the requisite training mileage under his belt to hang onto the lead and wound up placing third behind good friend Spencer McElwain and rookie marathoner Taylor Days-Merrill.

“I went out a little too hard for the shape I’m in,” said Harmon, who now practices law. “But there’s no such thing as a bad marathon if you finish. This is my home. It’s great to be around so many people cheering. It’s a really fun event.”

Days-Merrill, 22, ran for Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and led for the first eight miles, then dropped back to fourth as Stefan Sandreuter took the lead with McElwain and Harmon in close pursuit.

“Not your typical Maine Marathon,” McElwain said. “Stefan took the lead, then Chris took the lead, then I took the lead, and Taylor had the lead in the beginning.”

Sunday marked the fourth marathon finish in five attempts for McElwain, a mechanical engineer who tore his hamstring at Mile 21 in the 2014 Boston Marathon and dropped out of the Hartford Marathon.


“So right off I’m always thinking that something’s going to go wrong,” he said Sunday. “That’s not a great feeling.”

This time he knew when the other leaders began to struggle.That’s when he made his moves.

“I saw (Sandreuter) rotating his shoulder,” McElwain said. “That means he probably was getting a shoulder cramp so that’s when I went by him.”

A few miles later, “Chris’s steps started getting a little heavier,” he said. “That’s a good indication he’s started to lock up a bit. I run with Chris almost every day so I know his form. We’ve done a lot of workouts on this course, so it was nice to run with him for over half of it.”

HOWARD SPEAR is stepping down after 18 years as race director. He said the day mainly went smoothly.

“I heard a bus got caught between runners on Route 1 on the way out,” he said. “I don’t know how. You always have four or five snafus but you work through it.”


Spear said he plans to run the half marathon next year. Before taking over as race director, he twice ran the marathon.

“I’ll still be part of it,” he said, “just drop down a few notches and let someone else worry.”

MIKE BROOKS of Lewiston wore bib number 500 in honor of his 500th marathon. At age 70 and coming off heart surgery, Brooks started at 5 a.m. and clocked an 8:29:39 as the penultimate of 708 marathon finishers. There were 1,827 half marathon finishers and 117 relay teams.

PAUL SERVAIS of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, wore bib 50 to signify completing the marathon-in-every-state quest, which took more than eight years. None took longer than four hours, including Sunday’s 3:41:20 result.

“At 39, I started running to lose weight,” said Servais, 47, who dropped 50 pounds and is at 170. “Now I’d like to do a triathlon.”

JONNY WILSON set a course record in the half marathon but discovered he wasn’t the fastest runner over the Martin’s Point Bridge on his return to Portland. A young man with an afro and no bib remained in front of Wilson the whole way across.


“He was easily running a sub-5 minute mile on that bridge,” Wilson said. “He looked like he was jogging. I was trying to catch up to him. At first I thought it was going to be easy, and then I was getting to the end of the bridge and I still wasn’t with him. I was like, ‘Man, this kid should have entered the race.’ ”

The runner turned out to be former Deering High runner Abdi Hassan, now a University of Maine-Farmington freshman.

MICHELLE LILIENTHAL of Portland chatted with Sheri Piers of Falmouth and Erica Jesseman of Scarborough after finishing 1-2-3 in the half marathon. Lilienthal asked the other two – both training for an marathon – about their runs.

“Not bad,” came the reply from Jesseman. “Not bad.”

“I think you felt better,” Piers said. “I was sucking pond water.”


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