December 7, 2023

Thousands participate in Millinocket Marathon and Half

Published: Dec. 2, 2023 at 11:38 PM EST

MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) – Over 2,300 runners made it out to participate in the Millinocket Marathon and Half.

On Saturday, runners and organizers finally got to see their training and planning come to fruition.

“The logistics of this are insane, completely, insane. No person involved with this event is paid, everyone volunteers, and we volunteer all year round to make this happen and we put hundreds of hours of work into making this happen.” said Gary Allen, founder and race director for the marathon.

“I’ve been running all year preparing for this. I signed up as soon as I could sign up and started training. I’ve run a couple 10k’s leading up to this and got here early this morning to be here to run.” said Erica, before she began the half-marathon.

The route went along Golden Road and back along Millinocket Road.

Those who participated in the full marathon got the pleasure of doing that twice.

Many local businesses and residents were lining the route offering anything from chicken broth to cookies, though most stuck with water.

“My Son-In-Law who actually runs a lot of marathons. He said, why don’t you have a bunch of cookies? Why don’t you have a cookie stand? So, I enlisted the help from a lot of the ladies from the town and, oh boy, thousands of cookies, one year.” said Jane Mary Frost, who runs a cookie stand for the runners.

With the rainy weather and ice and slush on the roads, completing the marathon, or half, was no easy task.

Peter Gurney was the first to finish the full, with an impressive time of 2:38:11.

“I was not expecting this race to go nearly as well as it did. So, I’m really pleased. Yeah, when i started the race, there was like a group of three guys kind of hanging out chatting behind me, so I thought they would catch me, but that didn’t happen.” stated Gurney.

Gurney’s key to success was rather unconventional.

“Stopped a gas station and ate some Swiss Rolls last night, and then after eating dinner, got to the Air BNB, where my friends were staying, and they had like some chicken parm and other stuff that I probably had no business eating.” said Gurney.

It’s always free to register, but according to the marathon’s website runners are required to support local businesses and contribute to the Katahdin region in some way.

“Maine sports commission did some calculating. They calculated that this will bring between 2.5 and 3 million dollars to the Katahdin region this weekend.” added Allen.

The closure of the East Millinocket paper mill devasted the area’s economy in 2014.

Allen, who has been involved in running and organizing races his whole life, saw this as a call to action and founded this marathon in the wake of the closure and since then it’s grown more each year.

“The inaugural year was 2015 and we had 52 runners. So, it’s turned from that which was kind of a flash mob marathon to this.” concluded Allen.