by Julie Millard
In July a Central Maine Striders team tackled the Down East Sunrise Trail Relay for the second year. In the DEST Relay team members take turns over 16 legs running the 102.7 miles from Ellsworth to Eastport. Teams estimate their finish time and are given staggered start times on Friday night (July 20th) in order to finish around the same time on Saturday ( July 21st).
This year's Striders DEST team included Pat Cote, Bruce Maxwell, Ron Peck, Jess Beers, Cecilia Morin, Tracey Cote, Julie Millard, and Brian Morin. Team captain Julie Millard shared the following race report.
Chapter 1. In which the brave travelers begin their arduous adventure
Friday, July 20, 6:00 p.m.
The motley crew assembles on the Colby campus, cramming eight bodies and approximately 37 bags into two SUV’s. Destination: Pat’s Pizza, Ellsworth.
Chapter 2. In which many carbs are consumed
Friday, July 20, 7:30 p.m.
The team elders, Brian and Julie, throw in a beer for good measure. Lead-off runner Pat may have let his hunger override his good sense, but all hope that three hours is enough time for him to rest and digest in his camp chair.
Chapter 3. In which the race begins
Friday, July 20, 11:30 p.m.
An awkward seed time of 11:30 p.m. puts our excellent adventurers in the undesirable position of having only one team with a later start time and key rivals with significant leads, likely meaning that they will experience a lot of alone time on the trail. Pat does an excellent job of digesting, runs a powerful leg, and puts our heroes fifth from last.
Chapter 4. In which the night is dark and full of terrors
Saturday, July 21, midnight to 4:30 a.m.
Skunks, porcupines, ticks, mosquitoes, blown-out calf muscles, dim headlamps, and a lack of cell phone reception and bathrooms are only some of the horrors the brave Striders faced, with the biggest being the tricks of the mind. (Is that a bear? Is that a serial killer? Where’s my damn coffee?) Somehow the team makes it to Columbia Falls, where the sunrise brings them great joy.
Chapter 5. In which there is significant road kill
Saturday, July 21, 6:30 a.m. to noon
Tracey’s calf injury requires a change in plans, with secret weapon Cecilia, youngest team member by more than a decade, swapping into a difficult uphill leg. Despite her strong performance, she is unable to hold off top-seed team Boyz n the Woodz, but she puts the team in striking distance of several teams with earlier start times.
The heroes pick off the competition, one at a time, like lions on the prowl. A bathroom and breakfast sandwiches in Dennysville further lift their spirits, and they cruise into Eastport faster than their seed time, 8th out of 42 teams overall and first-place equal gender team, having averaged 7:24 over 102 miles.
Congratulations to the Striders team for their performance at DEST! In addition to a strong finish, for the second year in the row, they also finished closest to their predicted time—within two seconds!
Check out their video below. Then consider running the next Down East Sunrise Trail Relay July 19-20, 2019.