Sarah Emerson finishes a MDI Half-Marathon. PHOTO COURTESY OF KEVIN R. MORRIS

MDI Marathon set to return  

BAR HARBOR — After two years of cancellations due to COVID-19, and one year nearly derailed by an early nor’easter, the 19th running of the Mount Desert Island Marathon, Half-Marathon and Team Relay will finally take place on Saturday, Oct. 16. 

The popular race, founded in 2002 by Gary Allen from Crow Athletics, has not been run since 2019. The initial surge of COVID cases, and subsequent government restrictions, made holding the race in 2020 untenable. And a spike in cases of the delta variant squashed an attempted return in 2021. 

Though the previous two races were canceled, RunMDI says they still managed to raise a total of $30,126.49 to be donated to various local, state and national organizations as part of the Beyond the Finish Line charity gifts and grants program. 

The award-winning course features miles of pristine terrain passing tranquil lakes, soaring mountains and stunning seaside vistas – including Somes Sound, the only fjord on the Eastern Seaboard – set against the backdrop of Acadia National Park in peak fall foliage season. 

The Marathon and Team Relay start in Bar Harbor, while the Half-Marathon starts in Northeast Harbor. All three races finish in Southwest Harbor. 

Before those cancellations, the race flirted with disaster before achieving record-breaking success. 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 impassable. 

However, 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 year prior, almost 2,000 runners signed up for the event. This year, registration for the half-marathon had already reached capacity by July 16. There are, however, a limited number of charity bibs left for those still seeking a spot. The charity bib program requires runners to raise a minimum of $250 by Oct. 12, with 100 percent of the funds distributed as gifts and grants. 

Registration for the full marathon closed Sept. 1. 


Zachary Lanning

Zachary Lanning

News reporter Zach Lanning covers news and features in the Ellsworth area. He comes to Ellsworth by way of New Jersey, which he hopes you don't hold against him. Email him at [email protected].

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