MILLINOCKET — This year’s Millinocket Marathon and Half is set for Saturday, Dec. 7. The race, organized by MDI running club Crow Athletics, was started in 2015 to help a struggling Northern Maine mill town that had been devastated by the closing of its major employer, a 100-year-old paper mill.
The starting line is downtown under a banner suspended between two fully loaded logging trucks. The race is the nation’s only USATF certified marathon with no registration fee. The only requirement for runners is that they support local businesses and contribute to the Katahdin region in some way.
The course for the full marathon follows the historic Golden Road, a dirt logging road with spectacular views of Mount Katahdin.
Crow Athletics has set up fundraisers for area nonprofits including Our Katahdin and the Millinocket Memorial Library.
Organizer Gary Allen, a Cranberry Island native and veteran race runner, conceived of the race as a way to provide an economic boost heading into the holiday season. Fifty racers came to Millinocket in 2015, more 500 ran in 2016, and for the last three years, the town has been preparing for more than 2,000.