Women’s Maine Coast Half Marathon & Significant Other 5K
This race answers the age old question…what do women want? The Half Marathon is for women only (and one lucky guy); and there is an exciting addition this year, the Significant Others’ 5K.
Posted Monday, 28 July, 2008
What do you get when you combine the desire to create a high quality event for Women ONLY and the incomparable beauty of the New England Coastline? Here comes the second annual Maine Coast Half Marathon, the only all Women’s Half Marathon in New England. This year’s race will take place on September 21, 2008 in York, Maine. In only it’s second running, the husband and wife co-race directors, Mike and Linda St. Laurent, have added many special touches to a race that already pays attention to the details of what women want in a race.
“There’s an excitement and a different atmosphere when a race is all women running together,” explains Linda St. Laurent, co-race director and the one who came up with the race concept. “There’s something about being among other females. There’s a certain esprit de corps of unspoken understanding and shared experiences. And the bottom line is, it’s just a lot of fun. Even our waterstop volunteers told us they had a great time because the women’s energy and enthusiasm was so contagious.”
What’s new this year? Well, with an anticipated 1,500 runners expected this time around, the race directors are not ones to rest on their laurels…they created an unbelievably successful first race and immediately started listening to the feedback of runners to improve on the initial success.
So the saying goes “behind every great woman is a great man,” and in keeping with that, race organizers created a new 5K race that will allow men to start their 5K 10 minutes ahead of the ALL WOMEN half marathon. “The Significant Other 5K” will give all those who do not qualify on gender for the all-women’s race, a chance to experience the beauty of the course. And actually, this 5K is open to EVERYONE, men, women and children. This is especially important to many women friends and relatives who are not quite ready for the half but want to participate in this scenic phenomenon.
“There were some men who were really giving me heat about the fact that they can’t participate in the half marathon,” said Mike St. Laurent. “The women all had such a good time and talked about the race to their husbands, boyfriends and friends. In order to try to give them a taste for it, we created this additional race which we hope will be short and sweet and fun for everyone.”
However, do not be fooled by this “inclusion” of a few men. This race is all about the women. Including the reason we all run, the coveted race shirt, which this year will be beautiful wicking, women’s cut shirts (of course) designed by Leslie Jordan. And to help in preparation there is an on-line training program available with Moms In Motion®, a Global Network connecting Moms through Fitness, Fun & Philanthropy.
The “sisterhood” energy does not stop there! Who better to announce this all women’s race than one woman who paved the way for women to run races in the first place? Katherine Switzer, one of the biggest names in the history of women’s running, lends her voice to announce the event. Katherine is the beloved female athlete who challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon. She was the first woman to officially enter and run Boston.
The “Katherine Switzer for a Day Award” is new for 2008…it’s the chance, and a huge treat, for the chosen winning runner to sit at the head of the table during the pre-race dinner and dine with Katherine and her husband, and also receive accommodations where Switzer is staying in York, Maine. In addition, the winner will also receive an autographed copy of Katherine’s memoir. In order to win runners will donate $10 for the chance to have their name in the Switzer lottery drawing. All proceeds from the “K. Switzer for a Day” lottery will benefit the local track club.
Course Changes—Scenic Beauty and Fewer Hills
The course itself is a figure eight and it has some changes since last year’s inaugural race. Last year the organizers and runners learned that the course was much more demanding than they had anticipated. This year’s race has 30% less hills than last year. This is great news for racers who prefer a half that is a combination of half flat course, half rolling, with no major hills. It’s a doable course, but also slightly challenging and beautiful.
It begins (and ends) at a very convenient location, the York High School, and does a loop through a rural intersection of town. York is endowed with many historic homes from the 1600’s and 1700s. Along the way, women will be treated to the sites of stone walls, Long Sands Beach, a lighthouse, and more. This section is totally flat with waves are crashing against the rocks. It’s everything you think of that’s quintessentially Maine.
Then the course heads into the village of York over one of several bridges. York Village is all very “Norman Rockwell” with its classic church spires and compact downtown. Three different rivers converge in the center of town. York is a working harbor complete with fishing boats and “lobsta” boats. The course then continues past a very beautiful golf course, then back again through York Harbor over a different bridge and back to the finish.
Finally, there is one person who runs in this race who is not female. He is referred to as “OLG” or One Lucky Guy. As the St. Laurent’s were planning the half marathon last year they talked about how at least one guy would characteristically hop in.
“Well, if that’s the case that would be one “lucky guy,” she said. So this innovative husband and wife team added a twist to the race by actually conducting a lottery three weeks prior to the event. Whoever has their name drawn gets to run with nearly 1,500 women; he will receive his own male version of the race shirt and probably have the time of his life.
The Maine Coast Half Marathon is about the celebration of women athletes—new runners, experienced weekend warriors, and stars of the sport; it is about the camaraderie and friendship that go along with that. It is run in a beautiful setting amid the idyllic backdrop of quintessential New England in the fall. On any female’s race calendar, this half marathon should be highlighted as September’s “Maine” event.