Epic space run complete

PRESQUE ISLE — Mount Desert Island High School alum and Bar Harbor native Evan Graves ran almost 40 miles at an 8:20 pace last Wednesday as part of an event to celebrate NASA’s New Horizons Space Mission to Pluto.

The University of Maine Presque Isle and the northern Maine community hosted the run along the Maine Solar System Model from Pluto (in Houlton) to Earth (in Presque Isle) at the scale speed of light. The space craft left Earth 9 years ago and sent its first up-close image of the dwarf planet on the morning of July 15.

The run was set up as a simultaneous version of New Horizons’ transmission. Runners carried “the signal” (an image of the dwarf planet on a thumb drive) up U.S. Route 1, more or less in sync with the actual photograph from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby past Pluto. Traveling at about 7 miles per hour, the runners were traveling at the scale speed of light.

“To me, the point is not so much that Evan ran almost 39 miles, the equivalent of 1.5 marathons, at least half of it in a downpour,” said Bar Harbor resident Richard Sassaman, who volunteered at the event … More importantly, he stepped up and made the whole thing happen.”

UMPI professor Kevin McCarthy, who organized the run, said that having Graves involved “gave credibility to the project. Among the runners in this area, he’s earned a great deal of respect.”

Graves was inducted into the UMPI Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. He coaches cross country, track and skiing at Caribou High School.

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