The Eastern Trail Alliance is hosting a virtual walking/running/riding event this year called the Maine Lighthouse Experience from Sept. 5 through 12. Participants can choose the duration and route of their ride, but the 100-mile route that is on the Eastern Trail Alliance’s website goes by 9 different lighthouses. Courtesy photo of Jon Kachmar

SCARBOROUGH — From Sept. 5-12, the Eastern Trail Alliance is hosting a virtual event, Maine Lighthouse Experience, where participants can choose from courses of 25 to 100 miles, all along the Eastern Trail.

The organization is encouraging people to personalize the experience however they wish, Jon Kachmar, executive director said. In previous years, the event was called the Maine Lighthouse Run, but the Eastern Trail Alliance is looking to get as much momentum of the ride through a more socially distanced event.

“We just really wanted to provide a safe outdoor activity, particularly during COVID-19, but also all the time,” he said. “Hopefully, when COVID-19 isn’t a concern anymore, we want to promote healthy activities that can be for everyone. I think just providing a place to promote exercise and lift people’s spirits is important.”

People who choose to do the 100-mile route will see nine lighthouses along the way, Kachmar said. People don’t have to pick routes that are close to lighthouses, however.

The event costs $35 per adult, $20 per child, and $25 for Eastern Trail Alliance Trail members, Kachmar said. The deadline to register goes right up to Sept. 5, and participants can pick any day in between the Sept. 5 and Sept. 12 to walk, run or bike.

“The funds are supporting the organization,” Kachmar said. “We have three campaigns that we’re working on in addition to our cost of doing business, and we have administrative costs, etc, and we try to keep those as low as we can. We continually have maintenance along the trails, which is excellent. All the municipalities help maintain the trail, but we also have some responsibility as an organization to help with that.”

There are three ongoing campaigns, Kachmar said: Closing the Gap is an effort to complete an off-road section in between South Portland and Scarborough, which is ready to to begin construction bidding; On the River is a 3.1-mile section between Saco and Biddeford; and Blazing the Trail South, which will add 11 more miles of trail from Kennebunk to South Berwick.

Closing the Gap has already completed its fundraising process, so the Maine Lighthouse Experience will raise funds toward the remaining two campaigns, Kachmar said.

One of Kachmar’s favorite parts of the Eastern Trail, which starts at Bug Light in South Portland, includes the variety of environments one can see along the trail, he said.

“You can be on the Scarborough Marsh, and you can be in areas that are nicely secluded,” he said. The Eastern Trail “offers quiet places and everything in between whether you’re running, biking, walking. There’s just a lot of varied ocean, wood, secluded, more active sorts of activities. We have several events that are associated with schools. Unfortunately, they’re canceled this year, but we’re trying to have availability.”

For more information or to register, visit www.easterntrail.org/mle.

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