Leah Frost of Glover, Vt., celebrates after claiming the women’s title in the 2016 Mount Desert Island Marathon. Team Run MDI announced Saturday the cancellation of the 2021 edition of the MDI Marathon. It is the second straight year that the event has been canceled. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

2021 MDI Marathon canceled



Runners traverse Sargent Drive in Northeast Harbor during the 2019 running of the MDI Marathon.
ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island’s biggest race has been canceled for the second consecutive year.

Run MDI announced Saturday the cancellation of the 2021 MDI Marathon. The 19th running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 17.

“This is absolutely devastating news to our entire organization,” race director and Crow Athletics co-founder Gary Allen said. “However, for the safety of our local community, professional partners, participants, volunteers and fans, we simply cannot risk further spread and further strain on our health care system.”

The cancellation, Run MDI said, was made following the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases as a result of the delta variant’s spread throughout the state. Organizers had spent months preparing for the event’s return after last year’s cancellation but ultimately were uncomfortable going forward with the event.

“Complications stemming from the recent surge in local COVID-19 infections due to the delta variant coupled with an already strained medical and emergency services community has [led] to too many uncertainties to safely hold the race,” Run MDI said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision. Race organizers have been working hard for the much-anticipated 19th running and preparing for a variety of contingencies.”

The 2020 MDI Marathon was canceled last July as guidelines on sporting events and general gathering restrictions made the event untenable. Although organizers had been hopeful that the availability of vaccines and the lack of state COVID-19 checklists would be a game-changer this year, that turned out not to be the case.

“We were hoping to celebrate a great return after last year’s cancellation,” Allen said. “Instead, we are deeply disappointed at this unexpected turn of events.”

2021 was almost the third straight year Run MDI was forced to cancel the MDI Marathon. In 2019, a nor’easter that arrived just three days before the race resulted in downed trees and transmission lines that made much of the course impassible.

Two event records were set in that 2019 race with Alex Russeau of Dundee, Mich., winning the men’s marathon in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 59 seconds and Eric Ashe of Boston winning the men’s half marathon in 1:07:10. Women’s records in the marathon (2:49:19) and half marathon (1:18:34) were set by Leah Frost of Glover, Vt., and Michelle Lilienthal of Portland in 2018 and 2016, respectively.

The MDI Marathon begins on Main Street before heading south through Otter Creek and Seal Harbor. The course then passes through Northeast Harbor and heads up the east side of the Somes Sound before heading past Echo Lake and concluding in Southwest Harbor.

Run MDI said those who registered for this year’s MDI Marathon will be “offered multiple solutions as quickly as our race staff can catch our breath.” Affected runners should monitor their inboxes for more news in the coming weeks.

Organizers plan for the MDI Marathon to return next year. That race is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2022.

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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