Not many events successfully combine long-distance running and beer.

The Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and 5K is the exception.

“Beer is king here,” said race director Erik Bouchard.

With the sun shining and temperatures in the low 60s, 5,500 runners – 3,500 in the half marathon and 2,000 in the 5K – traversed Portland’s Old Port and Back Cove on Saturday morning in the ninth annual road race.

This year marked the return of the 5-kilometer race along a new course after a brief hiatus in 2018.

Jesse Orach of Auburn, 23, crossed the line first in the men’s 5K in a time of 15:14, nearly 30 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Orach won the event’s half marathon last year.

“The 5K is more in my wheelhouse than the half marathon,” said Orach, who was running in the event for the third straight year. “I like the atmosphere and it’s a good race for family members to run.”

The new 5K course, which took runners southwest on Danforth Street before looping back west along Commericial Street, earned his approval.

“There were points where I got to see some of the half marathon runners, so that was cool,” said Orach.

Christine Hein of North Yarmouth, 42, won the women’s 5K. Hein won the Maine Marathon in 2018.

Fourteen-year-old Patrick Gandini of Gilford, New Hampshire, was the youngest participant to finish in the top five of the 5K, crossing the line in 16:02. Like many of the race’s participants, Gandini was joined by a family member.

“My mom’s running the half (marathon) so I just thought why not run the 5K,” said Gandini. “I liked the course so I would (come back).

For the second year, the half marathon began at the intersection of Fore and Union Streets in the heart of the Old Port before winding through the West End, traveling along the waterfront on Commercial Street and circling back to Back Cove before ending a block east of the start line on Fore Street.

A makeshift beer garden greeted finishers just a block away at 1 Portland Square.

On the women’s side, Meg Brockett of Portland, 23, won the half marathon for the second year in a row in 1:22:41.

“It feels really good,” said Brockett, who works as a nurse at Maine Medical Center. “(This race) is just a lot of fun. There’s a lot of good food at the end and a lot of good people.”

First-timer Julian Gazzelloni of Windham, 27, won the men’s half in 1:14:17. Gazzelloni competed four years for the University of Southern Maine cross country team.

In keeping with the spirit of the event, runners of legal drinking age made their way on wobbly legs to the nearby beer garden to claim their two free brews.

“People come from across the country to get two free beers but they stay for the Old Port,” said Boucher.

With this year’s event drawing its largest field, Boucher hopes it will keep growing.

“We’ve been blessed for the city to work with us. They go the extra mile to help us and allow us to run,” said Boucher. “We’re going to see what the feedback is from the city, but ultimately our goal is to make this the largest race in the state. Soon we’ll be bigger than Beach to Beacon and if the city is willing, we’ll be 10,000 (participants).”

And as always, the beer will keep flowing freely.


Comments are not available on this story.