26.2 or 13.1
Millinocket Marathon and Half
I love my “crazy running family” almost more than my own family. Several times a year someone has a “silly idea” to get together to celebrate some type of personal event, (birthday, anniversary, etc.), and usually running, and then eating, drinking afterwards is involved. Late November, 2015, a good friend and teammate was reading some bleak news about the paper industry in the State of Maine. What he read, he noted, “…couldn’t be unread”, said Gary Allen, long-time runner and Race Director of the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine. He Once upon a time by: Dave Goodrich noted that something needed to be done to help those struggling mill towns as one by one the local mills, once famous for their pulp and paper products, were being closed down sending the local economy into a nose dive. One of Gary’s sayings he uses often encourages people to “toss pebbles” into a still body of water to create “ripples” that radiate outward creating energy to change and influence the people and surrounding environment. Through the power of Social Media, Gary used Facebook to organize two state-wide running events; one was located in the small, former mill town of Millinocket. Having lost their paper/ pulp mills in the last few years the region had fallen on hard times. Whoever said running can’t make a difference? In less than 2 weeks these events “popped up” and resembled a sort of “flash-mob” which instead of dancing involved running. The idea was simple, anyone who was interested just “show up” to run at a particular time/place that was established. Once the race was finished, (results were kept informally), folks were encouraged to gather at some of the local establishments, eat, drink, spend money and spread the “Holiday Cheer” throughout the community, similar to the story “Stone Soup”; spend what you might spend on race registration within the local community. Quite by “chance” Gary learned with the help of MapMyRun that beginning in downtown Millinocket taking the “Golden Road”, (the main logging road that stretches 100 miles to Quebec) towards Mt. Katahdin and Baxter State Park then looping back into town was almost exactly 13.1 miles. Nearly 50 folks from all over the State of Maine showed up that day to run and then celebrate! This was the “birth” of the Millinocket Marathon, an event like no other. No registration fees, no shirts, no finisher’s medals, etc. Runners gathered together instead to “give” to the local community versus to “take”. Through donations the course was certified through the USATF as a Boston Marathon qualifier. A timing company came forward to donate their services, bibs were made/donated, a “Stone Soup”, if you will of running. Amazingly both the runners and the local community embraced this idea. Let the runners come to run AND then “pay it forward” to the town and whole Katahdin region, staying overnight, eating /drinking in local businesses, buying local art, making donations to the local charities, all to support the local economy, not to mention the emotional “shot in the arm” it would bring. The town and region were excited and felt blessed as a result of the runners and running! Word spread that year through the press, Runner’s World, DownEast Magazine, to name a few, and many additional ideas subsequently sprang forth, including “homemade” wooden finisher’s medals locally produced, (that runners could purchase), race T-shirts made locally to be sold, a local crafts fair and high school sponsored pasta feed. Nearly 1,000 runners from across the country descended upon the region for the second annual running. Despite the frigid cold temperatures with blustery winds many notched their first half or full marathon here in the Katahdin region. Welcome to Northern Maine and the Millinocket Marathon. It’s a “one-of-a-kind” experience; “Once you’ve run on the “Golden Road” you will NEVER be the same”, and go forth to “toss pebbles” to make a difference.