BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island (MDI) marathon is slated to bring 1,400 runners through the downtown and across the island this Sunday. With each racer bringing family and friends in tow, the event represents one of the last major surges in visitors to MDI after Columbus Day weekend.
Runners are scheduled to set off from 200 Main St., in front of the Man Store, in Bar Harbor at 8 a.m., with an “early start” option at 7 a.m. for participants who plan a less than breakneck pace. The fastest runners are expected to complete the course in less than three hours and arrive at the finish line in Southwest Harbor beginning around 10:30 a.m.
“To have an extra weekend when the rooms are full and people are shopping and dining – it’s significant,” said executive director of the Bar Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, Chris Fogg. Mr. Fogg predicted that in addition to the runners, there would be “at least 3,000 to 5,000 visitors” filling up hotels and generating end-of-the-season business on MDI.
Some restaurants in Southwest Harbor are anticipating a 40 percent to 50 percent increase in business the day before, and the day of, the marathon, according to Jay Emlen, executive director of the Southwest Harbor-Tremont Chamber of Commerce.
Many of the participants in the 26.2-mile race also have money on their mind. “We’ve obviously worked really hard to get our runners to take their efforts behind the finish line to raise money for a local charity or charity of their choice,” said event organizer Gary Allen. Increasing coverage of the marathon since its inception 11 years ago has increased fund-raising opportunities, he said.
In 2011, the marathon was named runner-up for “Best Overall” marathon by “Runner’s World Magazine.” This year, it was featured in “Men’s Health Magazine” as one race everyone should run before they die.
To further encourage runners to fund-raise, Mr. Allen has used the website Crowdrise.com this year. Participants in the marathon had raised $20,000 for various organizations and causes through the website by Oct. 9, according to posts on the MDI Marathon Facebook that day.
Others have taken a more traditional approach to raising money. Chef Chiaolin Korona of Chow Maine will be preparing and selling Asian delicacies to those gathered at the finish line in Southwest Harbor from 9:30 a.m. until early afternoon. Proceeds from chef Korona's sales will be donated to the Westside Food Pantry and The Common Good Kitchen in Southwest Harbor.
After the start in Bar Harbor, runners will follow Route 3 through Otter Creek and Seal Harbor. Around mile 12, runners will deviate from Route 3 to go through the town of Northeast Harbor, following Sargent Drive along Somes Sound and reconnecting with Route 3 at mile 17.
Runners will turn left off Route 3 at mile 20 to follow Route 102 the remaining distance into Southwest Harbor. Spectators are encouraged not to follow the race at each leg, but instead to watch the start and then take Route 233 to Route 198 back to Route 3.
On Oct. 13, runners can “carb load” with a pasta dinner at Mile 26 Café to prepare for the day to follow. Proceeds help support the Mount Desert Island High School Band Boosters, which puts on the feed. For $25, non-runners may join the meal, depending on the availability of food. There also is a 1.8-mile pre-race scheduled to set off at the marathon starting line on Main Street in Bar Harbor on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8 a.m.
“We’re doing some pretty amazing things here,” said Mr. Allen. “This model is being rolled out for races across the nation…the MDI Marathon has really raised the bar for a lot of things.”