by Amy Stabins
TUCARD- Maine’s most Terrifically (& Unnecessarily) Complicated Adventure Race and Duathalon. The race announcement came across my Strider’s FaceBook feed late last December and something inspired me to click through to see what they meant by ‘complicated’- and I was not disappointed. In that post, interested participants were provided with a map that had the ‘Shadow of the Sparkle Pony’ laid across it, and told that the race would take place within that shadowed area- there is no official route. The rules were this- racers must use at least two forms of transportation, and time adjustments would be made based on the mode chosen and whether or not the racers were on pavement or gravel/trail. In the months leading up to the race, GPS coordinates for the start and stop points would be released. And shortly before race day the GPS coordinates for three way points would be sent out.
I am not super competitive, but I enjoy a challenge. TUCARD is a race, a puzzle, and a scavenger hunt all in one. My first challenge was getting to know the area- I had never been to that part of Maine before. In the months leading up to the race I made five trips up to Orono and ran or biked most of the conservation areas and pocket parks within the Pony’s shadow. Thirteen hours before the start time I received the email with the way points, and one additional rule- The boglands running through the race area were designated The Bog of Despair. Every minute spent in the BOD would add ten minutes to the official time. I planned out what seemed like the logical course to follow, loaded up the bike, and headed up to the race.
At the starting line it quickly became apparent either my fellow racers were planning some epically misguided routes, or that I had missed scouting some crucial areas. It was too late to re-think my plan, so I forged ahead. My route took me across the BOD three times…
I arrived at the finish line in 1 hour 29 minutes, more or less in the middle of the pack. However, my adjusted time was 9 hours and 20 minutes, almost 5 hours behind the next ‘slowest’ racer! Crossing the BOD three times really hurt me. And I won the title of ‘Lost Dog’, the racer who covers the most miles (10.32)!
This might have been the most fun I’ve ever had racing- I can’t wait for next year!
Check out the TUCARD website for more information-
by Drew McCormick
-Waking up the morning of the 16th Annual Doc and Mardie Brown 5K, as many of the participants could attest, was a strange morning weather wise. It looked as if it was going to be cool but it wasn't really (mid 70's) and it was as humid as ever. If us Mainers weren't already used to it, the weather may have been downright debilitating. There with that out of the way, on to the race!
Arriving at the Waterville Alfond Youth Center was a little different due to the construction going on in the parking lot, but there was still plenty of room. I parked and got my race bib from some very friendly volunteers, and saw the race director Patrick Guerette zooming around! I informed him I was ecstatic that he would not be able to run this race, and that it gave me a chance for the age bracket win! I then headed right over to the Central Maine Striders tent for some pre-race nerve talk with Kate, Ron, Ryan and Julie which helped as always, I was then off for some warm up miles. There were racers warming up along North Street and everyone was friendly saying good morning to one another. Just an all around great feel/vibe to the air.
First up was the kids fun run which had an incredible turn out this year and was fun as advertised! I was lucky enough to help a little bit during the race by standing on the last turn directing the kids to the finish. It was a blast seeing the expressions and determination on the kids faces as they rounded the corner for the finish line! Directly after the fun run was the main event...the 5K!
Runners started lining up along the marked area for the race start on North Street headed toward Colby College as always, however road construction prohibited pedestrians from passing along the normal route. Patrick, the fearless race director (mentioned earlier), mastered the art of the pivot and laid out a new dynamic course which incorporated the trail along the Messalonskee stream behind the Alfond Youth Center. As the racers were lining up at the start the mood was light and jovial, Patrick said a few words thanking the sponsors, volunteers and participants then we were off!
Ron Peck and I charged out head-to-head as we bobbed and weaved through the pack from North Street onto the trail. The low light level in the trail due to the cloud cover made it a little extra difficult to navigate through the roots and frost heaves in the pavement but it was a neat change to the sudden and extended uphill start of the normal 5K race route.
Once we hit the road the race seemed to kick up a notch in speed, (Ron pulled ahead!) there is something about being in the open air and out of the tree cover. A fairly quick uphill on Edgemont Ave, then a long turning downhill from West St. onto Gilman St. made up the route until you hit the N Riverside Drive neighborhood where you made a short uphill loop. Just before the entrance to the neighborhood is where I made my glorious passes of Connor Pellerin and Ron Peck!
The plan was then to boogie back to the Alfond Youth Center by way of North street where you made a glorious finish under the big blow up finish line arch! I am happy to say the plan worked and I came in 2nd place with an official time of 18:57! After I caught my breath for a few I was able to socialize again and cheer on friends and other fellow participants.
The event flowed very smoothly with awards being distributed immediately after the race. The amount of prizes this year was spectacular with there being about 50 participants, a lot were reaping the benefits of their hard work! All in all this is a fantastic race regardless of the course layout. It has a real "hometown" feel as one of the racers, Andrew Catalina, said to me and that's why I personally like it so much. I hope this race continues to grow, if you were on the fence about racing this event in the past have no fear this is a fantastic event that skips all the "tude" and focuses on the FUN! See you at the 17th Annual Doc and Mardie Brown 5K! (PS: Don't forget all Striders get a discount on the race fees!)
(Full results from the 2021 Doc & Mardie 5k can be found here: https://my.raceresult.com/177915/results)
by Jordan Castillo
The time is 7:45AM on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. A few other Striders and I are at the starting line for one of the virtual 8k races within the Quarry Road Summer Series. It’s early, but the heat and humidity are strong. The thick aroma of the dense greenery and freshly cut grass floods my nostrils, and I feel as if I can nearly taste the scenery. Despite feeling a subtle daze, my heart begins to quiver with excitement as I look around at the five-or-so other Striders who are jogging in place, preparing their bodies and minds for the race ahead. And though there aren’t any spectators and it’s not a typical race environment, my body still fills with electric anticipation as I prepare to give it my all in my first ever trail race.
I warm up with a few butt-kicker’s, some high-knees, and a few other exercises to get my blood flowing. As the clock nears 8am, I gather with the other Striders (socially-distanced, of course!) at the starting line. To make sure we have plenty of space between each other on the course, we spread out the start times of each runner. This actually makes it a bit more exciting, because each runner has their own personal starting time, so the whole group yells and cheers as each runner takes off onto the course.
Finally, after 13 minutes of waiting for the other Striders to start their race, it’s my turn.
“Alright, Jordan, you ready?” Ron Peck asks, holding his watch. He glances at the countdown. “Ok. Three, two, one… GO!”
I take off like a bullet. I hear a bunch of voices hollering behind me. “Go, Jordan, go! Woo!”
About five seconds into the race, I realize I am definitely running too fast. I’m in the middle of marathon training, so eight kilometers doesn’t sound like much. But I can’t sprint for eight kilometers, and I quickly remember what the other Striders told me about the race. They warned me, “Don’t underestimate the hills. You’ll reach what you think is the top, and then suddenly you find yourself at the bottom of another hill!”
Find your pace. Find your pace, I tell myself. I settle into an eight-minute-per-mile pace as I steadily ascend the first set of hills tucked away in the back of the Quarry Road trails. The rolling hills remind me of a gentle roller coaster, taking me for a ride on trails flanked on either side by dense Maine forest. I pay close attention to my pace, “changing gears” on the uphills and downhills as if I were riding a bike. All the while, I remember to take in the lush beauty of the trails and to just enjoy the thrill of the race.
The hills slowly drain my stamina, but I continue to push forward. It’s only an 8k, it’s only an 8k, I tell myself in an effort to convince my muscles to give it everything they’ve got. As I descend the highest hill in the park, I feel a rush of victory. Just some small up’s and down’s from here on out, I think to myself.
After making it past the toughest hills in the race, I feel more confident about running the last segment with a bit more speed. I kick it into a higher gear, determined to see how quickly my legs can carry me through the last few kilometers.
I make it to the last hill. My body is yearning for a break and wants to just be done with the race, but my mind knows there is still plenty of energy left for the final stretch. As I near the top of the hill, I break into a full sprint and zero in on the finish line. I faintly hear a few of the Striders yelling. “Jordan, come on! You’re almost there! Go, go, go!” I propel forward as I absorb this encouraging energy. Zooming with my hands held high, I cross the finish line and feel a rush of satisfaction and relief.
I glance down at my watch. Thirty-seven minutes. I know I could have run a bit faster, but nonetheless I smile because I know I did well. I turn around and begin cheering as soon as I see the remaining Striders running the final stretch of the race. It turns out our staggered start times led us to finish within just a few minutes of each other, and everyone is soon on the other side of the finish line.
To celebrate the completion of our hot, sweaty 8k, we immediately dig in to the donuts a few of us had brought to the course. As we are munching, there is a communal feeling of victory and satisfaction. Yes, things may feel different from a typical race that would include the crowd energy and more runners, but I feel deep gratitude for the sense of true community that exists even in the small group of Striders around me.
For those of you out there who miss gathering for regular race events, let me join you by saying I feel the same way. On many days, the effects of the pandemic can feel heavy. But experiences like the virtual Quarry Road Summer Races have served as another example of an important lesson I’ve been learning throughout the past six months. With a bit more effort and creativity, we can continue to (safely) experience community and gather with others for fun events. So, I encourage everyone to reach out to their running friends (Striders and potential future Striders alike!) to come up with some fun, safe ways to continue competing. And especially when you are running on those Quarry Road trails, just remember: don’t underestimate the hills—enjoy them.
Jordan Castillo is the Vice President of the Central Maine Striders and works in admissions at Colby College.
by Patty Hallee
Being new to the running scene within the last year, my husband Mike and I decided it would be fun to try something different. So we signed up for the Quarry Road Summer Race Series. We didn’t realize how much different it would be trying to race on a trail vs the road. Trail running definitely requires a lot more work than the road. Again this was our first year and because of the Pandemic we all ran our own race and turned in our time and our GPS maps by Sunday evening. The series runs 9 weeks and starts with a 3k which takes you down the backside of the field by the Yurt and around the Riverside loop. It's not a bad run but still a challenge for an older, inexperienced runner such as myself. It was a fun run and made me want to do better. The next week is a 5k which takes you up around North Koons and back down around the first Riverside loop. North Koons is more of an uphill run, more challenging but still fun. Again it still drives you to want to be better. The third week is an 8K that takes you up around North Koons, back to South Koons and finishes you off running the Riverside loop. South Koons is a little tricky and following the arrows is very important or you can end up running it twice. And don’t let the word South fool you. You aren’t running downhill!!! Then you start over with the 3k week 4, 5k week 5 and the 8k week 6. Week 7 you start back with the 8k, down to 5k and then the 3k week 9. I have found this to be a fun series. We are very fortunate to have the trail system we have in this area that is well maintained by volunteers, and provides shaded spots to run when it’s really hot. I would recommend the Quarry Road Summer Race Series to anyone who is looking to challenge themselves to something a little different. And with next year hopefully being back to some type of normal it will also provide an opportunity to meet other runners in the area.
Patty lives in Waterville. When not running she loves to spend time by the pool and also volunteers at the Unified Champions Club at the Alfond Youth Center. “Spending time with my son and the other athletes is fun and simply puts a smile on my face.”
Jordan Castillo moved to central Maine a couple years ago. The first time he attended a Central Maine Striders meeting was last December. By the end of that meeting, he had been voted in as the new club Vice President. In his short tenure as the VP, he's organized several group runs (and brunches), started the club's Instagram account, and generally been one of the more energetic and enthusiastic club members. One weekend at brunch this winter, he shared the story of how he started running. It was such a great story that I asked him if he could write it up for the club webpage and newsletter. So, just in case you weren't at that brunch, here's Jordan's running story:
With confidence and excitement, he responded, “Yeah! Your younger brother is going to join, too! C’mon! It’ll be fun!”
Slowly, but surely, my brother and I began to see the results of our training. Three miles started to feel like a warm-up distance. I began to feel like I could slow my breath enough to even carry a conversation while running. The first time I finished a 13.1-mile run, I felt like a straight-up champion. Many times, my brother and I would join my dad’s running club for long runs on the weekends. The runners carried such an encouraging, infectious energy. They loved seeing young people like my brother and I training for a such a big race, and it was always motivating to hear their stories about running accomplishments and the goals they were setting for themselves.
As the weeks passed, I came to believe that finishing a marathon was actually possible—I just had to stick with the training plan and know that my body was capable of carrying me further than I could ever imagine.
Fast-forward to race day. I had barely slept because I was so nervous and excited. With my green singlet and black running shorts, I joined the other runners in the starting area. It was a clear, sunny day and 6,000 of us were about to embark on this 26.2-mile journey along the beautiful north shore of Lake Superior.
One of my strongest memories of the race is the feeling of camaraderie between my dad, my brother, and me. They always kept me focused on the goal, especially near the end when I felt more fatigued than ever and I began to seriously doubt whether I could finish. I also remember all the fans on the side of the road who encouraged us and handed out free water, Gatorade, salty snacks. Some of the fans even had water hoses to cool us off, and some were literally grilling on the side of the road and giving out hot dogs and hamburgers. There were so many moments during the race when I just felt rushes of gratitude and excitement from seeing all the fans. Crowd support makes such a huge difference!
Around mile 23, I started to hit “the wall.” Each step felt like it required ten times the normal amount of effort, and I felt all my muscles ache with each strike of the ground. I actually remember feeling angry and wondering why I was running the race in the first place. My brother was so good at reminding me that this race was possible and that we were going to make it to the end. I was in so much pain, so my brother’s encouragement made a huge difference.
Without a doubt, the final .2 miles of the race was the most agonizing, challenging part. I remember passing the 26th mile marker and thinking, “Wow! I’m done! We are at the finish line!” But the reality is that .2 miles is still .2 miles. It also didn’t help that there were still a few turns after mile 26, so I couldn’t even see the finish line until a minute or so after passing the final mile marker. When I eventually did see that finish line, though, I ran with everything I had.
“From Lakeville, Minnesota, we have Jordan and Spencer Castillo, about to finish their first Grandma’s Marathon!” The announcer was cheering us on, along with the hundreds of fans lining each side of the road. Those last few seconds of the race seemed to last an eternity, and I couldn’t believe that I was actually about to be done running those 26.2 miles. With a time of just under five hours, my brother and I crossed the finish line. My dad and brother were right there, and we grabbed each other with a sweaty, beautiful embrace. I felt a sudden rush of accomplishment, relief, pride, and overwhelming joy like I’d never felt before. At the age of 16, I had just finished my first marathon.
During the drive home, my Dad turned to my brother and me and blurted, “So, who’s ready for the next marathon?”
“Haha, are you kidding me? Too soon, Dad,” I answered. “Maybe in a month, you can ask me then.” And a few months later, my dad did, in fact, ask me about running Grandma’s Marathon again.
“Sure, why not,” I responded with a soft smile.
So, the next year, I ran my second Grandma’s Marathon. The year after that, I ran another marathon with my dad, and the year after that, too. Because of that initial nudge from my dad, I have been running long-distance consistently for 11 years now. I am proud to say that last month I completed my tenth marathon in Napa, California (with a PR of 3:29!), and in less than three months I will go back to where it all began to run Grandma’s Marathon again, this time with the intention of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Thanks for sharing your running story with us, Jordan! We love the energy and enthusiasm that you've brought to the club.
If any of you would like to be featured in a "Meet Our Members" article, contact us at email@example.com. We'd be more than happy to publish your running story and/or interview you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”
The Downeast Sunrise Trail (DEST) relay is one of the great races in Maine. It holds the distinction of being the only overnight relay race in the Pine Tree state and lets competitors enjoy the natural beauty of some of Maine’s quieter camp towns. I was honored to be part of the Central Maine Striders (Streakers?) team with my greatest asset being a reliable (read: available) SUV.
Not only was I new to the race, but it’d also be my first time visiting each town along the trail. Ron spent the drive passing on such geographic gems as Eastport being the easternmost city in the US (because Lubec is technically a town). I listened intently as Ron had won a marathon up there a few years back and his insider knowledge of the terrain was bound to
save us valuable minutes.
After a delicious pizza and pasta dinner, we arrived at the starting point to a mini rave. The Wackos from Waco, a fellow perennial team, were busy weaving glowsticks onto an old mountain bike. This psychedelic figure would always appear at the end of legs; a luminous siren shepherding us to cold water and starchy treats.
The team took off at 10:30pm with me taking the lead leg. The typical start-line adrenaline was magnified by the reality of running into the wilderness in the dead of night with nothing to guide me except the clearance headlamp I got at Walmart 2 years ago (I knew I should’ve sprung for that Black Diamond). After the first couple of miles, I was able to sink into the moment. The quiet and calm of the trail coupled with the darkness made it feel as if I were running through a sensory deprivation tank. I was able to zone out and let my instincts take over as I passed through marshes and woodlands with the moon to guide the way.
With the first handoff to Tiana, the relay was in full swing. Each rendezvous point was designated by GPS coordinates which greatly helped with navigation (save the occasional detour through a blueberry farm). I was eager to pass the baton to our teammates in car 2 and get a few hours of rest before sunrise. I was surprised to see how many local teams rolled up in campers and sprint vans, as if our expedition was taking us around the whole state rather than a 3 hour drive north. However, incredulity was quickly replaced with envy as I gave the captain’s chair in my Toyota Rav4 the airplane seat tilt.
The second half was soon underway, with Brian getting to enjoy the namesake of the trail instead of our captain, Julie (I’m sure she’s already consulting almanacs and time splits to recalibrate for next year =). This sunrise also brought one of the hottest days of the summer; air temps reached the mid 90s and the roads were well into the triple digits. We made our way through Machias as the sun picked up. I cost our team a couple min by being on the porcelain (plastic?) throne as Tracey waited to handoff after running a blistering pace for leg 10, but I think we can all agree the extra facilities on the trail were a huge plus. Great legs by Ron, Tiana, Jess, and Pat helped us extend our lead over the Wackos, our Maine rivals.
We waited in a beautiful park in Eastport overlooking a Canadian island as Pat took us from trail to road and the last exchange. Our closer, Brian, was psyched and ready to go. He slipped into his experimental Nikes that had such rebound, they made Vaporflys look like Bean boots. The heat was beating down on the roads and we stationed our cars along the final stretch to keep our anchorman hydrated and cool. A few minutes later, we crossed the finish as a team to receive some impressive race medals.
The race provided unique challenges and memorable experiences all within the confines of 24 hours. We arrived back in Waterville on Saturday afternoon with a great sense of accomplishment and having seen picturesque locations in some more rural parts of Maine. If you’re looking for a race that will challenge you physically, give you a chance to explore the state, and most importantly spend time with some really cool Striders, look no further than signing up for DEST next year.
Striders L to R
Jess Beers, Ron Peck, Pat Cote, Tracey Cote
Sapan Bhatt, Tiana Thomas, Julie Millard, Brian Morin Brian breaking the speed limit!
By Ryan Goebel
It is hard not to run a race that starts less than a mile from your house. That’s probably the main reason I ran the Doc & Mardie Brown 5K last year and again this year.
In the race last year, I was new to Maine and didn’t really know what to expect from the competition and from the course. I managed to place second overall and win the 40-49 male age group division with a time of 18:38, which was 29 seconds behind the overall winner. Having never actually won a race on a certified course before, I immediately put the thought into my head that I wanted to come back in 2018 and win this race.
The Doc & Mardie 5K course is by no means easy. In fact, it’s the hardest road 5K that I’ve ever run. The first mile includes an elevation gain of 128 feet, most of which is over a quarter mile while you climb up the hill to Colby College from North Street. How you run up this hill can make or break your race, and I was determined to conquer it. So, I ran up this hill frequently during my training, including seven times in the week prior to this year’s Doc & Mardie 5K. I made several attempts at capturing the Strava segment “course record” from fellow Strider Ron Peck, but continually failed. The only thing I could hope for was some race day magic to propel me up the hill at the pace I wanted to run.
Going into the race, I gave myself about a 50 percent chance that I could win it. My running has improved a lot over the last year, including cutting nearly 30 seconds off my 5K PR, but I knew there was no guarantee that I could beat the winning time from last year. I was also afraid that a random Colby College kid would show up and blow me away.
On the morning of the race, I jogged from my house to the YMCA to pick up my number and t-shirt and then jogged back home where I changed shoes and shirt and drank some water. Once again, the convenience of racing this close to home can’t be overstated. As I ran down the street heading back to the YMCA and the start of the race, I started feeling a little hungry, so I made a U-turn to go back home to eat a GU energy gel and drink more water.
As I chatted with some of the other Striders while standing at the starting line, I looked around and either didn’t see or didn’t recognize the guy who won last year’s race. I also didn’t see anyone else I recognized as being faster than me. I knew that winning was a real possibility now.
“On your mark. Go!”
I immediately shot out into the lead having no idea how close anyone was behind me. I looked at my watch about a quarter mile into the race and saw I was running 5:15 pace. I knew I had to slow down a bit so I wasn’t too winded by the time I reached the base of the hill. As I ran up the hill, I started getting paranoid that someone was right on my tail. I thought I was hearing heavy breathing and footsteps right behind me, but was afraid to look back.
I continued to push up the hill trying to pull away from the phantom runner trying to pass me. The hill felt much less bad than normal. I made it to the top of the steep part of the hill, but knew that the road kept climbing until close to the one-mile mark just past the Colby Art Museum. My Garmin GPS watched beeped and showed that I ran my first mile in 6 minutes flat. “Not bad,” I thought to myself. “I can do this.”
Running down Mayflower Hill, I knew my pace would increase, but I didn’t want to push it too much. I knew that the third mile included another climb that may not be as big as the hill in the first mile but still had the potential to zap a lot of energy out of me. I came through the second mile at 5:36 min/mile pace. I was right where I wanted to be.
As I approached the bottom of the hill at the Gilman Street bridge, I again thought I heard heavy breathing right behind me. After crossing the bridge, there was a car that seemed to want to drive through the construction barriers. I was relieved to see that race director Patrick Guerette was talking to the driver, but also a tad worried because the driver seemed to keep inching forward. I wasn’t sure whether I should go around the left or the right side of the car. I went to the right without incident and soon after saw my wife standing on the side of the course cheering for me.
“Are you winning?” she asked.
“Yes. How far back is the next guy?”
“I don’t know. I can’t tell.”
I was relieved to know that the phantom runner chasing me really was a phantom and I was well on my way to winning the race as long as I maintained my pace to the finish.
Of course, knowing that I had a comfortable lead also killed my adrenaline rush. My breathing grew heavier and I felt hot for the first time in the race. Running up the hill on West Street felt much worse than the giant hill in the first mile. At this point, I just wanted the race to be over. I topped the hill and turned onto North Street. “Only a half mile to go,” I thought to myself. I really wanted this half mile to be finished.
As I turned into the YMCA parking lot, I saw the race clock counting up from 17:37. I pushed to the finish line realizing that I was going to win the race and run a sub-18:00 time. I had just won a race for the first time ever!
I turned around to see the next runners approach the finish and was glad to see that Ron Peck came in second overall and Julie Millard won the women’s race.
After I got home and loaded my GPS data to Strava, I found that I had finally beat the segment record going up the big hill to Colby (sorry, Ron). That capped off a great week of running for me: placing fifth in my age group at Beach to Beacon, winning the Doc & Mardie 5K, topping 70 miles for the week, and getting a segment record on Strava. The only thing left to do was to head over to the New Balance Factory Store Tent Sale and spend the gift card I won from the Doc & Mardie race.
Thanks to Patrick Guerette for organizing a great race. If you live in the area and haven’t run the Doc & Mardie Brown 5K, you really should consider it. I plan on running it again next year.
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.