Millinocket Marathon Draws Thousands To Katahdin Region

MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) - "The nickname of Millincocket is the Magic City and this all happened sort of magically," expalined race founder, Gary Allen.

For the past few years, the town of Millinocket has been booming for one weekend out of the year.

"We started in 2015 with 50 of us and it grew to 650 last year and there is probably going to be 1500 or 1600 today," said Allen.

The annual Millinocket Marathon and Half has been inspiring hundreds of running enthusiasts from all over the country to come to the Katahdin region, but not just to run, but to bring commerce to the area as well.

"They're here more to see what they can give as opposed to what they can get," explained Allen.

This free race is a qualifier for the Boston, New York, and Chicago marathons, and this year, it's a pre-qualifier for the Olympic Trials.

But, some runners weren't there to beat a personal record. In fact, some have never entered a race until today.

"It's the craziest idea I've ever had in my life," said Lee native, Mike Thurlow.

Mike Thurlow from Lee decided to enter this years race after watching his sons run it for the past few years.

This lifetime logger says he made the decision to run for those who can't...while donating all the money he has raised over the last few months to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"This is the season of giving and when an opportunity comes or you create an opportunity, you embrace that and just do it," explained Thurlow.

For a town devastated by mill closures in recent years, this new boost of folks coming to the region is a breath of fresh air for all those in attendance.

"It's like it was when I was growing up," said spectator, Beth Kimsey. "You know, there is no place to park in downtown Millinocket, and when I was a kid it was hard to find parking spaces in downtown, so it is kinda cool."

This one of a kind race in Maine has made quite an impact on lives all over the U.S. And organizers say it can only go up from here.

"It's on track to be a marque event for all of New England. No problem," said Allen.