The Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon is a destination race. It is held in the biggest city in Vacationland, after all.

Once you pass by the historic brick buildings, cobblestone streets, beautiful water views and enjoy the strong local support, it’s an event runners from all across the country – 70 percent of entrants are from out of state – are drawn to year after year.

However, it was a pair of first-timers who crossed the finish line first in both the men’s and women’s divisions on Saturday.

The weather at the 7 a.m. start was perfect for a distance race – cool in the low 60s and even a little precipitation to cool down the runners.

So it comes as no surprise that Meg Brockett of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Jesse Orach, formerly of Gorham and currently living in Auburn, blistered through the course.

“I actually said to my mom before the race that I hope it rains midway through the race, and it did in miles 2 to 6,” said Brockett, who finished in 1:20:06, 19 seconds ahead of runner-up Amanda Nurse of Brookline, Massachusetts. “And then it cleared up at the end, so it was perfect conditions.”


Brockett, 22, decided to run the Old Port Half for the first time because she’s at the midpoint of her training for a marathon. She said the course was a perfect distraction.

“I loved running along the water and all the pretty scenery. It kind of takes away from the pain of running,” she said after placing 12th overall in just her second half marathon.

Orach, 24, was the top Maine finisher in last year’s Beach to Beacon 10K after a fellow runner helped him across the finish line. In his first 13.1-mile race, he certainly didn’t need any assistance.

When he came back from the Western Promenade, there was no one close to him at the 4-mile mark on Commercial Street. That continued until the end of the race – moved to Fore and Dana streets this year – when his time of 1:10:43 beat the field by almost five minutes.

“I told myself to not do anything (big) until halfway through the race, but I felt very good and I was able to drop the other racers a lot earlier than I thought,” said Orach, who ran at Gorham High and the University of Maine.

Orach ran the accompanying 5K last year, but because that distance was eliminated this year, he opted for the half marathon.


The winners weren’t alone in posting fast times. A number of first-timers did likewise.

Anthony Chase, an 18-year-old from Gorham, flew through the course in 1:18, good for ninth place.

“I’ve done the Beach to Beacon before but always wanted to do a half,” said Chase, a 2018 high school graduate who will run at the University of New England. “I liked the course a lot. The conditions were perfect.

“I will definitely run it again. I hope to get my friends to do it with me next year.”

Gena Ricciardi, 29, came up with five friends from Boston to run the race. It was also her first trip to Portland.

“I loved the course – being off major roads, the scenery, and great support from many fans,” said Ricciardi after finishing her sixth half marathon in 1:43:10, cutting six minutes off her fastest time.

The race, in its eighth running, was a little different this year, with the start and finish moved from Ocean Gateway Terminal at the end of Commercial Street to Fore Street, near Union and Dana streets. The 3,500 entrants covered 13.1 miles on the Western and Eastern promenades and Back Cove. There was only one stretch on Commercial Street, rather than heading up and down like years past.

“I am very pleased to have been able to work with the city to be able to move the race,” said race director Erik Boucher. “(Being in the heart of the Old Port) has been a dream come true for me.”

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