by Sapan Bhatt
The 44th edition of the Central Maine Striders January Thaw was a great success! Held every year since 1980, this race has been a staple of Maine’s winter road races for decades. Turnout was excellent for this edition, with 36 runners and many more in family and support staff.
The conditions were 26-degrees F and windy but with plenty of sun. The loop is about 4.5 miles (thankfully for me probably a little short of this) starting with a three-quarter mile surge out from the school to Augusta Road. Huge shout out to the volunteers who stood in the cold to direct runners at each turn. The first 1.5 miles felt like running into a headwind, hoping your initial adrenaline would last until your body mechanics are warm enough to take over. Your pre-race routine becomes crucial in these conditions. I saw many participants doing strides and stretches on the school road. I opted for the warm enclaves of Planet Fitness where I can listen to my Taylor Swift pump up playlist in comfort, and then drove to the race to get there just in time for the start.
The second left on the course takes you into a nice downhill on Rt 175. You can catch your breath while beautiful farmland flanks you. A few more rolling hills and before you know it you’re making your final turn back on the school road with the finish line right in the student drop-off zone. That final turn is the perfect signal to unleash your final surge with the finish line maybe 600m away.
Beyond the great course and volunteers, the post race scene was an absolute delight. Coffee, hot chocolate, homemade mini muffins, hand warmers, even free running books! I was surprised and excited to see so many new faces at the race, including an individual who was doing his first road race! The trophy was a beautifully crafted key/running medal holder, gift card to Lamey Wellehan Shoes, and a custom bookmark/ribbon. Put this race on your calendar to see what the 2024 edition has in store! In the meantime, 2023 is shaping up to be a great year of running and racing; I’m excited to strengthen old connections, make new connections and run new courses. Hope to see you on the roads!