by Julie Millard
Runners are widely known for their questionable idea of fun. For example, running 6 miles up an old logging road in the winter, looping around for an even 13.1, and possibly even doing the whole thing again might seem crazy to some. But with a creative race director, such an event lured 2,000+ runners up to Millinocket, Maine in December!
2019 marked the 5th running of the Millinocket Marathon and Half, the brainchild of Gary Allen, who also directs the Mount Desert Island Marathon and the Down East Sunrise Trail Relay. The race philosophy is simple: “Don’t run Millinocket for what you get; run Millinocket for what you give.” There is no entry fee; instead runners are expected to somehow contribute to the local economy, such as by staying at a local motel, shopping at the artisan fair, and/or eating at the spaghetti supper or pancake breakfast.
My first trip to Maine’s Biggest Small Town was back in 2017, when I was bold enough to register for the full marathon. I attribute this error in judgment to not really grasping the significance of the elevation profile up the Golden Road, which didn’t look like much on paper. Despite the balmy temperature (30 degrees) and clear roads, I quickly learned to respect the course and was relieved to finish both loops before the season’s first snowstorm arrived. Club members Pat and Tracey Cote both ran strong races that day, with Tracey even setting an age-group record that still stands.
This year marked my third trip up north, this time running the half with fellow Strider Susan Brooks. Although we drank only water and hot soup at the aid stations, we briefly ran with a woman whose goal was to complete 19 shots of Fireball (in honor of 2019) along the 26.2 miles. (According to the results, she finished the race but it’s unclear about the shots or her physical status at the end.)
Why drive 2 hours to run a potentially frigid race? One reason is that running Millinocket feels epic but is actually quite convenient to central Maine. Another is that the weather could be mild, frigid, or something in between, and gambling on the unknown contributes to the adventure. What you can count on is the warmth of the townspeople and the celebratory feel to the event. As observed by Vice President of the Striders, Jordan Castillo:
Social media director Sapan Bhatt added the following about the “local gem” called the Millinocket Marathon and Half:
Have you run a race recently? We'd love to publish your race report too! Email us at email@example.com
Although she lives in Vermont now, Rebecca Roy is a proud member of the Central Maine Striders. As the daughter of Gene Roy, she was basically raised into the Strider family. Although she's been battling an injury lately, she's hoping to get back to running soon. As part of our ongoing series to get to know more about our members, we recently asked Rebecca a series of questions over email. Here's what she had to say.
Thank you so much for thinking of me for this. I am very honored and it means so much to me because I grew up with the Striders, all the old timers are family to me. I feel far away but by being a member of CMS I feel connected which means a great deal.
What do you do when you’re not running? I manage educational programs for Vermont State Parks professionally. I love Nordic skiing, camping, and trout fishing. I am also an avid deer hunter. I have also gotten into mountain biking since I've been injured. I love being in the woods no matter what I am doing.
Why are you a member of the Central Maine Striders? CMS is the best running club out there, the club played a huge important role in my childhood, and want to stay connected. It will be fun to run races in Vermont with my CMS gear!
How long have you been a member of the Central Maine Striders?
I feel like I was born into the club because my dad was an early member. I spent my childhood going to races with my family every weekend, and that thrilled me. I still love going to races to just watch and I love hearing people's play by play stories of their races. Almost all my childhood memories involve adventures at races with the Club. I moved to Vermont nineteen years ago and had a big gap in my membership. I joined again when my dad was honored as Strider of the Year [in 2017], and will continue to be part of the best running club out there.
Why and when did you start running? My first race was a 1k fun run at the China School in China, Maine when I was 3. I vividly remember my mom's red striped tube socks during that race. I was thrilled to race and that hooked me. Running was a huge part of my childhood and became part of my identity. I just love it. I chose my college because my dad brought my sister, Rachel, and I to an Earth Day race there when I was five. That was Unity College and I ended up running cross-country there and made All-American and we won a National small college title.
How old are you? 43, I will be 44 in April. Still a long way to the next age bracket. My fastest times (so far) were in my late 30's.
And why do you run now? Unfortunately I am injured right now, but I am getting close to running again. I got into trail running when I moved to Vermont. I love adventure runs of all kinds. My favorite is a loop on Mt Mansfield, which is a mountain in Vermont with an expansive long summit, the whole loop is just under 9 miles and features the most beautiful views of Vermont. And [in Underhill State Park], we have a super nice state park campground at the trailhead where you can relax around a campfire and sleep in a lean-to after the run adventure. Sorry, I cannot help plugging my employer. I run today to get out in the woods, to wash away the stress of life, and to feel strong. I work with other ultra runners and they all have a zen attitude that gets you hooked on going long.
What’s your favorite running route? I have a trail loop at work that is four miles with lots of ups and downs, but my I have lots of real favorites in the woods. These are all in Vermont, I mentioned Mt Mansfield but I also have many fun loops I like to do in Groton State Forest in eastern Vermont. I live in Vermont because I like living in the mountains, I am two miles from a trailhead up Mt Cushman, which is a four mile round trip run. I used to run that weekly when I wasn't injured. My parents have a camp on Pattee Pond in Winslow [Maine], every July when I visit I run around the pond. That run is about 9 miles and 3/4 of it is road running and 1/4 is bushwacking. The last couple years I had to ride a bike around the loop instead.
What’s your favorite running gear? I love my Hoka Speed Goat shoes! I have too many pairs of running shoes. That is my addiction!
What do you think about when you run? I brainstorm ideas to solve problems I struggle with. I also love nature so I spend time watching for wildlife and identifying plants on the fly while trail running.
What are your running goals? They are lower now after micro-fracture ankle surgery, I would like to get up to ten mile adventure runs in the mountains this summer. I would love to do the Millinocket Half Marathon next December.
What’s your favorite race? Sugarloaf Marathon! I ran this when was 21 and then again when I was 41, and I ran it with my mom that second time. Absolutely magical day. My mom won her age group! Plus I grew up going to that marathon and I had family managing the Cathedral Pines Campground. We have lots of family history in that area so it is somehow magically extra special.
What’s your most memorable race? Finishing the Vermont 50 was a big deal to me, 50 miles is the farthest I have run. There are other adventure runs I've enjoyed that are very memorable like the Pemi Loop and Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains. I hope I can do things like that again.
What is your favorite memory as a Central Maine Strider? I have so many of these from childhood. One I clearly remember is the Kingfield 10K. That was a huge race when I was a kid, and CMS was well represented. There was always live music, chicken bbq, and lots of happy runners lounging out on the hill in the center of town enjoying the scene. We always camped out for the weekend with CMS friends and it was always a blast.
What’s the best advice you were ever given about running? Run negative splits.
What advice would you give to other runners? I learned a valuable lesson about cross-training at my age. I love running and do not really want to do anything else but it helps your body stay stronger by doing other activities. It makes you a better runner and more resilient. I will continue mountain biking and nordic skiing after I heal well enough to rip it up trail running again.
What’s your favorite running quote? "As every runner knows, running is more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are." --Joan Benoit Samuelson (I adore her!)
Thanks, Rebecca, for taking the time to let us get to know you a little more! We hope your injury heals soon and you can get back to running. We're proud to have you a Central Maine Strider and hope that you can make it back to one of our events in Maine someday. In the meantime, we're happy to have you as an active member of our Facebook group.
Would you like to be featured in a "Meet Our Members" article? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Running Backwards" is a new feature of our webpage and Interval newsletter that will highlight some excerpts of a chosen year in the history of the Central Maine Striders, as seen through past issues of the club's newsletter. We hope you enjoy it!
It may be hard to believe, but there used to be two chapters of the Central Maine Striders. From the July 1981 newsletter:
Brief profiles were written in the old newsletter to welcome any newcomers to the club. Long-time Strider Jim Moore was featured in the August 1981 newsletter:
In 2020, Jim can still be found running on the streets of Waterville and racing in club races, including this year's January Thaw. Thanks Jim, for your many years of participation in the club!
And in the September 1981 issue, another long-time member, Jerry Allanach was featured:
Although Jerry has relocated to Illinois, he is still maintains his membership in the club and often comments in our Facebook group. He also occasionally returns to Maine to run in races. Last year, some of us got to see him at the Free ME from Lung Cancer "Save Your Breath" 5k in Augusta. Jerry, thank you for being such a loyal club member. We hope to see you back in Maine again sometime in 2020!
The October 1981 included results for any club members that finished the Casco Bay Marathon. Finish times that year included currently-still-active members Gene Roy 2:49, Dean Rasmussen 2:53, and Jerry Allanach 3:08.
Some annual club awards were named in the November 1981 issue. Gene Roy's name popped up again as "Strider of the Year". It makes you wonder how many times he's won that award.
Just to give you more reasons to respect Gene Roy, his time of 6:39 at the Rowdy Ultra 50 Miles at Brunswick was also included in that issue.
The December 1981 issue publicized the upcoming 1982 January Thaw. Hard to believe that there was ever a time that a race entry fee was only $1.
That month's issue also announced the newly elected officers.
And last, but not least, the December 1981 issue included a short note from the outgoing President, Gene Roy (yep, that guy again). I have a feeling that wasn't the last time that Gene was a club officer.
We hope you enjoyed this new feature digging into our club archives. In the next issue, we'll (hopefully) feature 1982.
Congratulations to our club member Brian Morin, who is ranked 85th in the World Marathon Majors age group rankings and has been invited to run at the 2020 World Major Marathons Age Group World Championship held at the London Marathon in April!
I am a 56-year-old member of the Central Maine Striders. I decided at the age of 48 to start running road races again. After over 20 years of not racing I decided to skip 5k and 10k distances and train for a marathon. You might as well go big, I told myself.
The Maine Marathon in 2011 was supposed to be my one and done, except I was not done. I made every mistake possible, starting with jumping into the marathon without racing a 5k or 10k. After finishing my first marathon I had another goal: run the Boston Marathon. I ran Boston in 2012 as a charity runner for Tufts. Boston 2012 was 90 degrees and I did not run the time that I wanted. Naturally, I ran Sugarloaf 6 weeks later aiming to qualify for Boston. I missed my Boston qualifying time by 43 seconds. After Sugarloaf I started doing track workouts with the Striders. I have to give the Cotes [Patrick and Tracey] credit for my rapid decrease in race times. They told me that I had the potential to run faster. That fall I ran the MDI marathon 15 minutes faster than Sugarloaf and earned a Boston qualifying time for 2014. We were spectating near the finish line in Boston in 2013 and fortunately left before the bombs went off.
Boston 2014 was great. I ran my best Boston time which was 8 minutes faster than MDI. When I lived in Boston for 7 years going to school, I never dreamed that I would be able to actually run the Boston Marathon. The only running I did back then was running through Harvard Yard to catch the bus. In 2018 I was taken into a medical tent at Boston with hypothermia with 2 miles to go. My wife Jacky started asking me about the other world major marathons, and if I would like to run them. That was all the incentive that I needed.
I ran Chicago in 2018, and even though it started pouring with 6 miles to go I ran a good time. I decided to start my profile on the Abbott World Major Marathons website. Boston and Chicago done, 4 more to go.
I entered the London and Berlin marathon raffle entries in 2018 with no luck. I decided to run the New York City Marathon in 2019 and entered the London and Berlin lotteries again. New York went well, but the lotteries did not. Ten days after running New York I received an email inviting me to participate in the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon – Abbott World Major Marathons Wanda Age Group World Championship. I thought the email was a joke, but it was real. I did not know about the World Major Marathon age rankings, or that the inaugural championship would be held at the 2020 London Marathon. My Chicago 2018 and Boston 2019 times put me at 85th in the WMM age group rankings and 25th in the USA. My wife told me not to get a big head saying, “Someone is number one and it isn’t you!”
I will skip Boston this year and run London. After London I will keep trying to get in to Berlin and Tokyo. I want to thank all of my Strider friends for helping me to become a better runner. I am very fortunate to have a supportive family.
Our February club meeting included discussion about the following:
- A wrap-up of the January Thaw road race
- Plans to have a Striders online swag store twice a year
- Update on our status as a non-profit with the state of Maine
- More discussion of starting a new Striders 10k race
- Website, calendar, and newsletter updates
- A club Instagram account coming soon
- DEST relay team
- Mount Washington Road Race runners and volunteers needed
- And more!
Click here to download and read the full minutes:
With the 41st January Thaw on January 19th postponed due to an impending storm, the rescheduled date of January 26th dawned with clear roads and balmy, almost spring-like temperatures. Buoyed by a strong team of volunteers including Gene Roy, Geoff Hill, John Manzer, Harold Shaw, Rob Krickus, Deb Violette, and Lynda McGuire, the race kicked off without a hitch.
The field of 33 included some “old road race veterans” and quite a few new, welcome faces. Conspicuous among the new faces was a young man, Patrick Caron, from Needham, Massachusetts who just decided to drop in. The group took off with some donning just shorts and t-shirts for this real January Thaw. The “outta stata” shot out in a near sprint leaving me to wonder about that pace for 4 1/2 miles but he proved to be the real deal finishing with a time of 23:41. As far as I can find, this is second only to Todd Coffin’s 1993 course record of 22:01.
CMS runners, Sapan Bhatt and Jordan Castillo, finished second and fourth with times of 27:21 and 30:26 respectively. They were separated by third place finisher, Blaine Moore of Brunswick in 29:24 running for Team Dirigo. The first ladies across the finish line were Anya Davidson of Readfield in 6th place overall in 32:07 and Jess Beers of Waterville in 8th place with a time of 33:40.
This was a successful transition year with a strong foundation in place to carry on this longtime tradition led by “new blood” next year.
Thanks to David Colby-Young for his coverage. As Gene Roy said, “We know we’re putting on a real race when David Colby-Young shows up to take photos.”