By Brian and Cecilia Morin
The Central Maine Striders competed in the 2021 rendition of the Down East Sunrise Trail Relay between Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24. Seven members of the team assembled at 5:30PM in a Colby College parking lot and waited thirty minutes for the eighth runner (who shall not be named) to arrive.
The team arrived at Pat’s Pizza in Ellsworth around 7:30PM. They ordered salads, calzones, sandwiches, and pizzas all while trying to maximize their carbohydrate consumption. The team of four males and four females with a 37-year age span between the youngest and oldest runners drove to the start of the relay. These eight fully-vaccinated runners were ready to race after a long year of virtual competitions. However, they made the surprising discovery that they were the only team slated to start at 10:30PM. Clearly, they were in a class of their own.
After mumbling about an insufficient warm-up, Brian Morin started the first leg of the relay. Brian ran into the wilderness alone with only his rainbow light-up reflective vest for company. Ron, Julie, and Sapan stumbled upon suspicious late night activity in some blueberry fields while waiting for Brian. Ron Peck powered through the next leg, followed by Sapan Bhatt. Sapan’s bright polished teeth illuminated the darkness like an overhead dental light.
Despite voicing fears of running alone in the wilderness without cell phone coverage, Tracey Cote decimated her first leg and tagged her husband Pat to continue the relay. Cecilia Morin, the next runner, raced through the darkness to outrun the rustling in the bushes. Julie Millard, the team captain without whom none of this would be possible, sped through the early morning.
Tiana Thomas, with her engagement ring as a beacon of light, ran into the pastel colors of the morning sunrise that emerged after her approximately 4:00AM start time. The team waited for Tiana, drinking French roast coffee and eating snacks supplied by the one and only Sapan. Tracey ran after Tiana, then handed the relay off to Julie for her second leg. These Central Maine Striders caught members of different teams as the sun rose in the sky.
Pat ran like a D1 Nordic skier with eligibility left, lightening his load by expelling the remainder of his calzone with a mile to go. Sapan followed, racing over 10 miles at the speed of light with the thought of breakfast occupying his mind. The team relaxed in Dennysville while consuming a mélange of bacon, eggs, and pancakes (depending on each runner’s dietary restrictions).
Cecilia ran after Sapan, passing four people as the temperature increased. Tiana continued the relay for 3.6 miles. Somehow Cecilia and Tiana averaged around 7:22 miles for both of their legs. As future bride (Tiana) and maid of honor (Cecilia), they were definitely on the same page.
Ron ran next, braving the blistering heat for 7.9 brutal miles and showing his knowledge of the biological human capacity for speed. Last but not least, Brian anchored the team. He ran on the newly paved road, from which tendrils of steam were emanating. The team gave him water and emotional support before parking in downtown Eastport. Brian grabbed the baton from Cecilia with a couple hundred meters to go. The seven other members attempted to run at Brian’s pace to complete the relay as a team, but six of them were too sore and took a shortcut near the finish line. They watched Brian and his fellow dentist Sapan run together to the finish line before joining them, demolishing their predicted relay time and earning those high quality race medals.
Overall, the team exceeded their expectations and cultivated a great deal of fun together.
The team finished eighth out of 44 teams, but was the first team with an equal number of males and females.
Go Central Maine Striders!
A note from Mark Fisher about this year's MWRR:
Just a quick note back to you regarding the weekend at Mt. Washington. A great weekend for our runners and volunteers. It seems that a lot of teams fell short on the volunteer end and us having our runners all matched with volunteers was not the norm. We had a chance to chat with Tom the race director and he was very appreciative of our efforts.
The race was different with a new starting direction, time trial start and splitting the group up into 2 races (Women on Saturday, Men on Sunday). The new starting process that was put into place for COVID was, in our opinion, a big benefit for running the mountain. Fewer people as you hit the beginning incline to navigate in and around as well as a more flexible start time (your clock starts when you do) allowed for the most valued late porta-potty breaks! The weather was like a layer cake, warm on the bottom (but more comfortable because of there just being more room to maneuver, temperate in the middle and VERY windy (40-60 MPH) and cloudy at the top. It cooled significantly as it is wont to do this year as you finished the race. We had a great time and everyone was pleased with the outcome.
Of note, Ron Paquette and Dean Rasmussen completed their 37th consecutive MTWRR this year. Truly an inspiration.
I want to call out in particular Central Maine Striders Donna Jean Pohlman, Linda Fisher and Tom McGuire handed out hundreds of lunch bags to hungry runners and other volunteers. Again could not have our team there without the help and generosity of our volunteers.
I was not sure who was best to pass this on to with respect to the newsletter. Feel free to edit as you see fit.
Thanks for all the help in pulling this off again this year. All the best.