Runners traverse Sargent Drive Sunday during the annual MDI Marathon, half marathon and relay. Alex Russeau and Eric Ashe set new course records in the marathon and half, respectively. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Marathon course cleared just in time after storm

BAR HARBOR — A Mount Desert Island Marathon that seemed in jeopardy just 24 hours before its scheduled start time instead concluded with one of the most successful events yet.

In the aftermath of last Thursday’s early-season nor’easter, downed trees, transmission lines and other structures impeded travel all throughout MDI. Even two days after the storm, numerous roads were blocked across the island — including some along the MDI Marathon course.

“Up until about Saturday at midday, there were parts along the course that weren’t passable,” race director Gary Allen said. “There were so many outages everywhere, and it was just a matter of where Emera could get in time. It was a tough situation.”

Fortunately for everyone involved, though, crews arrived to clear the course the day before a herd of runners and spectators were set to descend on MDI. With the massive rain and howling winds long gone, it was blazing speeds, not threatening skies, that defined the day.

Alex Russeau of Dundee, Mich., set the new course record for the event with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 59 seconds. Russeau’s time broke the previous record of 2:21:45 set by Dan Vassallo of Peabody, Mass., in 2016.

The event also saw a new half-marathon record as Eric Ashe of Boston crossed the finish line in 1:07:10 to beat the previous record by 34 seconds. A second runner, Brandon Sage of St. Michael, Minn., finished 17 seconds behind Ashe to record the second-best half-marathon time in event history.

Sarah Mulcahy of Fort Kent finished just 13 seconds shy of the women’s marathon record to place fourth overall. Her time of 2:49:19 was nearly 14 full minutes ahead of the next competitor, Kate Edwards of Belchertown, Mass. Karoline Skatteboe of Somerville, Mass., won the women’s half-marathon with a time of 1:20:13 and overall place of fifth.

“There were so many outstanding performances,” Allen said. “In nearly every event, there was a new record or somebody who came close.”

Locally, the top men’s finishers were Dylan Brann of Mount Desert (marathon; 11th place overall) and Judson Cake of Bar Harbor (half-marathon; third place). The top MDI-area women’s finishers were Rebeccah Geib of Bar Harbor (marathon; 67th overall) and Megan Williams of Bar Harbor (half-marathon; 60th).

The event drew 612 runners for the marathon and 600 for the half-marathon. Forty-eight teams competed in the relay race, which saw first place go to the Maine Warden’s Service with a net time of 2:58:36.

“We had great registration numbers,” Allen said. “This race has become a part of the fabric of the island for people here and people who travel here for it. When you see all the ‘No Vacancy’ signs and the lines at the restaurants you can tell how important it is.”

None of it, Allen said, could have happened without the island’s spirit.

“I think being an islander is kind of similar to being a marathon runner because they’re both about resilience,” Allen said. “Everyone comes together for this and makes it happen.”

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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