BAR HARBOR — Spaghetti, charity fundraising, music, and of course running are in store this weekend for the 17th annual MDI Marathon.
The 26.2-mile race begins Sunday at 8 a.m. in Bar Harbor, winds through Otter Creek, Seal Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Somesville, ending in Southwest Harbor. The half marathon begins in Northeast Harbor.
Gary Allen, the founder and director of the MDI Marathon, said he is “super thrilled that the 17th edition will be bigger and better than ever.”
A total of 1,945 runners are signed up. They hail from all 50 states and five Canadian provinces, as well as Australia, Ireland, France, Great Britain and New Zealand.
2017 MDI Marathon champions Bryan Morseman and Leah Nook-Frost will be returning to this year’s event. Morseman is looking to defend his title and beat the course record of 2:21:45, set in 2016 by Dan Vassallo of Peabody, Mass. The women’s course record is 2:49.13, set in 2014 by Leah Thorvilson.
About 450 volunteers will be helping the race run smoothly. Rob Gomez, founder and owner of Eastern Shore Training, a Maine-based online running coaching service, will be the keynote speaker at the traditional pre-race Pasta dinner hosted by the Mount Desert Island High School Music Boosters. Proceeds from the all-you-can-eat dinner go to the Boosters’ Summer Scholarship Program.
In addition to the Music Boosters, other local nonprofits will get a financial boost from the marathon. Through the Charity Bib Program, runners can take pledges to support a local or national charity.
Bar Harbor runner Cate Scheider is running the MDI Half Marathon, taking pledges for the MDI YMCA.
“The clincher for me, for this race specifically, was the ability to run for a charity of my choosing. It makes running that much more rewarding,” Scheider said. “I ultimately chose the Y [because it] plays an important role in keeping the fabric of our island a true community. It provides a safe and positive place for kids to congregate and grow into their best selves.”
Allen said some notable runners in attendance this year include “elite female runner Devon Yanko, [who] hopes to run a qualifier for the 2020 US Olympic trials at MDI.
“And the always-amazing Michael Westphal is running,” he continued, “[a] local runner and friend who is battling Parkinson’s.”
Allen is hoping many local musicians come out to play along the race route, as part of an annual tradition called “Rock the Marathon!”
Finish line festival
Getting to, and parking in, Southwest Harbor has always been a challenge during the marathon as Main St. is closed from 9:30 a.m. until the early afternoon.
This year, spectators will be able to take a ferry from the Northeast Harbor Marina to Dysart’s Marina in Southwest Harbor, avoiding congestion on the marathon route and the need to find parking near the finish line. The ferry will be operated by Sail Acadia using the 21-passenger Elizabeth T. Timed tickets are available online.
Music at the Finish Line Festival will be provided by The Fox and the Hound, playing Americana and country music. Food vendors include Colvard & Company, RockBox, and BAR Har-B-Q. Coda Restaurant will host a beer garden, with beer from Rising Tide and Fogtown on tap.
The Seal Cove Auto Museum’s vintage Detroit Electric car will be on display, along with information from A Climate to Thrive and Friends of Acadia.
The Finish Line Festival marks the end of Southwest Harbor Week, ten days of tastings, talks, tours, concerts, cruises, and demonstrations hosted by the Southwest Harbor & Tremont Chamber of Commerce.