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home > community > viewpoint > enjoy the best of maine—the peak performance maine marathon and half-marathon

Enjoy the Best of Maine—the Peak Performance Maine Marathon and Half-Marathon
Running in beautiful Portland, Maine on October 5, 2008—you will want to be part of this one.

  
Enjoy the Best of Maine—the Peak Performance Maine Marathon and Half-Marathon

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By Peter Donahue
Posted Monday, 9 June, 2008

One of the most beautiful areas of New England in early October is the coast of Maine, and if you’re a full or half marathoner, don’t miss the Maine Marathon, set to run on October 5 in Portland, Maine.

Started in 1992, both the Marathon and Half-Marathon have grown from a few hundred entrants to well over 2000 last year. According to co-race director Bob Aube of the Maine Track Club, the chief attraction is the beauty of coastal Maine in early fall. “We have a beautiful coast and tremendous views over most of the course”.

The out-and-back course starts at the Back Cove, an inner bay with a mostly flat four-mile start that gives the runner stunning views of Portland. Later in the race the course passes stately homes, enjoys a stretch along the ocean, and skirts the scenic Martin’s Point Bridge area.

 

“Everything was perfectly executed from water/Gatorade stops and course support to packet pick-up and the people handling out medals at the finish”

 

As with most good marathons, the organizers of the Peak Performance Maine Marathon have partnered with charities which will receive donations from the race. Aube said the organizers “look locally”for a worthy charity to receive donations on a two-year cycle and this year they have chosen the Center for Grieving Children, an organization that works with children and families who have lost friends and relatives. They partner with organizations that are working with counseling around grief, and helping with those who have lost a loved one or who have a family member with a serious illness. The Center is creating a training and fundraising team; call 207-775-5216 or log onto their web site at www.cgcmaine.org for more information on helping by running.

The big change in the Maine Marathon this year is the selection of a new title sponsor, Peak Performance Multisport of Portland. The new name of the marathon is the Peak Performance Maine Marathon. According to owner Tim Brewer, Peak Multisport focuses on these areas – triathlons, biking, swimming, Nordic skiing, and running. In an effort to lend their experience and expertise to a marquee event, they eagerly took the opportunity to partner with the Maine Marathon. Brewer recognizes how successful the Maine Marathon has been and he wants to add to it to make it an even better race. “Our goal is to help grow it and build on the success it’s achieved”, according to Brewer. “We want to bring energy to the event, and target areas to grow, such as the expo.” Brewer said the expo is now a low-key part of the marathon, and he wants to partner with his vendors to grow the commercial aspect of the race, and “open things up.”He also has ideas to increase prize money to interest more elite runners or provide a bonus for breaking the course record. Some of his ideas will enhance the aid stations along the course with a variety of energy products, and add music and fun competitions among volunteers.

His ultimate goal is to help grow the running community through a quality event such as the Maine Marathon. but to also reach out to other groups, such as local schools to increase volunteer participation. Brewer admits that while the race will most likely not reach the level of a Falmouth Road Race or Beach to Beacon, there is a lot the community can do to increase its visibility and connections. Bringing first-time runners to the event increases interest in the race.

Brewer also agrees that the date of the race is perfect for visitors to Maine and the Portland area. He’d like to work with local businesses to make the marathon a destination event. “This race could work as a fall-themed event that could draw runners and their friends and families to the area.”

Howard Spear, co-race director of the event, notes that the marathon was named 2004 NE Race of the Year by NE Runner Magazine, and is named one of the top 80 races in New England in the Marathon and Beyond Magazine. In fact, the race was so popular it risked losing its personal character, said Spear.

“The race really grew over the last few years,” Spear said, “ and we started to get nervous. We always aimed for quality over quantity, so we made a decision to cap the number of entrants at 3000 to retain the character of both the marathon and half-marathon.”

Spear notes that the course was changed about six years ago to eliminate a “lonely” stretch where spectators were scarce. The new route is flatter, but still provides some rolling hills for a challenge. The start and finish, as well as at the turn-around, are relatively flat. Spear agrees with Aube and Brewer that the race is one of the most scenic in the region with ocean views and charming stately homes giving the race a unique Maine character.

One of the most meaningful aspects of the race is its ability to raise money for Maine’s children. He said this year they would pass the $2,000,000 in money raised for various children’s charities.

For those runners not up to a full marathon, there are two other ways to participate – the half-marathon and the relay. The latter is comprised of four legs of 6, 8.8, 6.2, and 5.2 miles. Relay teams must have a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 runners. Each runner must run one full leg, but any member of the team can run up to 3 legs in any order. Relay running captains will receive instructions for the relay in your race packets, including a list of places to park at each exchange point.

Water and Gatorade will be available at all water stops, which are about 2 miles apart.

Of course the marathon is made up of runners aiming for their own personal best. But top runners generate a great deal of excitement too. Byrne Decker of Yarmouth has won six times since 1996 and three in a row 1999-2001. Last year Colby College grad Dan Vassalo set a new course record of 2:26:54, three minutes faster than the record set by Decker just the previous year. Stephanie Crawford, 30, of Framingham MA, finished 9 minutes ahead of her closest challenger in 3:01:16. The Dirigo Masters easily won the relay division in 2:32:39.

Race nuts and bolts: Start Time is at 7:45 a.m. Registration will be held Saturday, October 4, noon-6 p.m. at Sullivan Gym, University of Southern Maine, Portland; and also race day, 5:30-7:30 a.m. Or you can register online through Active.com.

As for race amenities, there are plenty. See www.mainemarathon.com/ for more details.

Showers are available at Sullivan Gym on the USM campus.

Port-a-potties will be at the start/finish line, at Mile 2 on the left, at Mile 5 on the left and at Mile 12 on the right. Runners can also drop in and use the bathroom facilities at Skillin's (Mile 6, on right) and the Falmouth Foreside fire station (Mile 7.5, on right). Runners will also pass these same locations on their way back to the finish line.

If you’re lucky enough to win an award or just want to cheer on those who did, the award ceremony will be at the finish line or in the Sullivan gym if the weather turns bad.

Food and drinks will be available for runners only at the finish line.

Please park in the USM parking garage or in one of the university lots. Be advised you cannot park in the Hannaford parking lot at the start line, however tempting.

Walkers and wheelchairs are welcomed on the course, but due to insurance restrictions, strollers are not allowed. Also, as a walker you can start the marathon at 6 a.m. if you expect top be on the course more than 6 hours.

Finally, perusing the comments from past runners, you get the feeling that this is one of those races that’s doing everything right:

“…While modest in size…the quality was beyond expectations…”

“Everything was perfectly executed from water/Gatorade stops and course support to packet pick-up and the people handling out medals at the finish”

“I was also blown away by all of the volunteers who worked so very hard. It was an amazing and successful effort all around by a great group of folks"!

“I’ll fly up from Florida every year for this one.”

Check it out!

 

 

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