Friday, October 24, 2003

Mt. Desert Island Marathon

Advertised as the most beautiful marathon in the country it almost lives up to the hype. I had a great weekend and my longest vacation in many years. I left home last Wednesday (October 15th) and traveled as far as Danvers, Massachusetts. My wife and I had always wanted to visit the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem. I never thought to associate Salem, site of the infamous witch trials in the 17th Century, with Halloween and little did I know the Halloween crunch had already begun. It was strange to see all the shops dedicated to witchcraft (are witches part of the local ministerium?).

The wind followed me to Salem. After a very enjoyable visit to the Museum I talked my wife into having dinner in Salem rather than returning to Danvers. During that time a wind storm blew thru and knocked down trees and a light pole leading to widespread detours.

The trip to Winterport was uneventful (but long - Maine is a big state!). Saturday we checked out Bar Harbor and I got my number and chip; later we had a pasta dinner at the local high school where I got a beach rock (when the race director gave them out I heard some surprised remarks – will during the marathon I saw a sign that absolutely forbade removal of beach rocks) for being the only Pennsylvania resident at the dinner.

Sunday was overcast and chilly – just my kind of weather. As the name indicates the race takes place on Mt. Desert, the largest island off the Maine coast. Race began right on time. You start in Bar Harbor and head out to Arcadia where you run through private and park land for the first 10K. The next six miles is near the coast with great vistas. I would describe the first 14 miles as pretty but not spectacular but mile fifteen is wow! as you run between the sea (Somes Sound) and the rocks of Maine (I learned later that part of Arcadia was called Philadelphia on the rocks because of all the main liners who had homes there). I was told Somes Sound is the only true fjord in North America but this site disagrees and says it is fjord like. Still if you go to the link you get a feel for how spectacular it is. As expected it is a hilly race but most are not extremely steep and I found them manageable (although they do just keep coming).

The last six miles are the least scenic and you are on a busy highway. There is a long hill that lasts thru mile 25. I kept asking how can it be uphill to a harbor, but the pay off is a sharp downhill thru to the finish at Soutwest Harbor. Around mile 20 I realized I had a chance to go under 4 hours if I just pushed a little. I was quite proud of my finish and did a 3:59:15. I originally thought a 4:15 effort would great so this was quite a surprise.

Spectators are as few in any marathon I’ve done but those who did view are very enthusiastic and cheered for everyone. It’s quite easy for spectators to move forward through the course and I got use to seeing some spectators over and over. I think Mainers must be honest to a fault – at one of the water stops I jokingly said this is the last hill right. A fellow looking very concerned said well sorry no it’s not. It was kind of sweet and made me laugh. At one water stop they must have had a list of runners because they cheered me by name and home state and I don’t think that has every happen to me before.

All the volunteers were great and must have practiced their water hand offs because they did a great job. As sometimes happens in small marathons there were stretches where there was no one near me so I am especially pleased my pacing stayed so even – there was only one mile where I lost focus and I made it up over the next two miles.

I ran past and spoke briefly to a runner who had run a marathon in every state three times.

Well organized and presented marathon that I think will quickly reached it’s maximum attendance of 1000.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Haverford Township Day

This community event began 9 years ago. For years the first Saturday in October was the day that the township fire companies opened Fire Prevention Week activities.

The story I’ve been told is the Phil DiNenno who was with the Haverford Township Civic Counsel approached the Township Manager and asked about extending the parade. To be honest I really have no memory of those first years since I was only peripherally involved. But I believe that the form of the first event was very much as it continues today.

Six years ago I did add my own twist when I got my friend Jim Sims to direct a 5K race as part of the activities.

Last year and this year I acted as the chair of a very informal group of volunteers who really do all the work in pulling the day together.

Each person brings something to the mix whether crafts, flea market, amusements, food sales or entertainment. It’s been great to work with such a dedicated group who devote so many hours to pulling this event together.

Next year for the tenth I’m hoping that the Township will move toward a more professional approach. The infusion of volunteer spirit is important but I think it’s come time to have some guidelines on how things are done,