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Runners celebrate the return of the Millinocket Marathon

Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 6:40 PM EST
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MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) - As it always does, the sixth edition of The Millinocket Marathon brought runners and spectators from far and wide. Race time temps in the teens just meant a bigger fire, more hot cocoa and a few extra layers.

Mostly.

“These runners are awesome,” said Roots to Remedies shop owner Angela McNarama. “I am in awe every year of these people and their perseverance and the tenacity that they are out there running in the cold.”

“This brings out the uncommon runners right here,” added Jason Geroux, who hails from Orrington and ran the Marathon dressed as a Viking. “Everybody here is in a great mood. They all want to be here they all the support from the community is amazing. And it just everybody smiles as hard as it is. It’s cold as it is, they love it.”

A race that has grown every year since it started in 2015 had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. For the Marathon to return, every participant needed to show proof of vaccination. With those protocols in place, it was off to the races once again according to the Marathon’s founder Gary Allen.

”Last year was heartbreaking for all of us,” Allen said. “I think everyone in every walk of life had a rough year and it feels really nice to be back.”

Ultimately this race isn’t held for the runners as much as it is for the town of Millinocket. There’s no registration fee to enter the Millinocket marathon. Race organizers simply asked that runners support local business or the Katahdin area while they’re here.

“I thought this would be a great place to host a marathon,” said Allen. “We decided to make it a completely different format where it was about paying it forward and we challenge runners to come and spend money.”

That challenge has been accepted. The inaugural race had around sixty runners. The following year, that number jumped to six-hundred. On Saturday the Marathon was prepared to welcome nearly two-thousand runners between the full marathon and half-marathon combined, which means an enormous amount of foot traffic for downtown restaurants, hotels, and businesses.

“We show the work of about 30 different local artisans,” said Moose Prints Gallery & Gifts co-owner Anita Mueller. “And this is a big day for them, you know, to see their things get sold and have money going into winter too.”

“This time last week there was nobody on Main Street,” McNamara added. “Once the tourists leave and winter rolls around this town gets pretty quiet. So having the people around, there’s definitely a lot more energy.”

Indeed, an energy of bigger fire, more hot cocoa, and a few extra layers of gratitude.

“This is a fantastic town, is all I think,” said Portland native Evening Dupre, who ran the Millinocket Marathon for the first time. “I’ve had a great time here and I’m so excited to be here and support them. Thank you Millinocket.”

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