Runners have plenty of incentives to attend the Sugarloaf Marathon and 15K every spring. Traditionally, they are run the third weekend of May.
For one, the scenic marathon course, a Boston Marathon qualifier, is one of the fastest such races in the country, as the final 16 miles are mostly flat or downhill.
Race organizers are expecting a record turnout for this year’s events Sunday, as more than 600 runners have preregistered, according to Sugarloaf Communications manager Ethan Austin.
“We’ve passed the 600 mark which is, by a considerable margin, the largest number of competitors ever,” he said.
The marathon will start at 7 a.m. at Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustis with the 15K going off at 7:30 from Ayotte’s Country Store in Carrabassett Valley.
If numbers continue to grow yearly, organizers may have to start turning people away.
“There’s no cap [but] in future races we might look at one,” Austin said. “For now, there’s definitely no cap.”
A bit more than 500 people combined to finish both races in 2009, the largest field in race history, and Austin is not surprised more have signed up this spring.
“It’s not surprising that it’s grown. The numbers have grown steadily over the last five years,” he said.
With the feedback race organizers have received over the last few years, word continues to get out about the races.
“The weather’s perfect. It’s a really fun race that experienced runners and new marathon runners alike both enjoy,” Austin said.
The defending champions are Gabriel Hemlinger of Massachusetts and Amanda LaBelle of Rockland in the marathon, and Knud Hermansen of Old Town and Cary Buterbaugh of South Portland in the accompanying 15K.
It’s not too late to sign up, as runners looking to compete in the marathon have until Saturday at 8 p.m. to do so. Saturday registration will take place 3-8 p.m. at the Sugarloaf Base Lodge, and only cash or checks will be accepted as forms of payment.
No race-day marathon registration will take place, but those wanting to sign up for the 15K can do so prior to the start of the race, from 6:15 to 7 a.m.
Some other vital race-day info: Transportation from the finish line to the start via shuttle bus will be available for all runners in both races.
For marathoners, buses will depart from Tranten’s Parking Lot in Kingfield, located across the street from the finish line on Route 27, at 5:30 a.m. sharp, while a bus will also pick up runners from the Sugarloaf Marathon hotel lobby at 5:45.
The 15K shuttle will leave Tranten’s at 6 a.m., and there will be a shuttle after both races for those who need to be dropped off at the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel. Baggage transportation is also available.