ROCKPORT, Maine — In the end, fleet feet beat taut sheets.
In something like 80,000 steps between Rockport Marina and the Whale Park in Boothbay Harbor, Aquilino Alamo triumphed over the schooner Timberwind on Monday in a more than 45-mile land-and-sea race where a little wind from the northwest could have made all the difference.
Instead, Joe and Bob Tassi, who captained the historic schooner, fought wind and tide at their bow and arrived at the finish line almost 50 minutes behind Alamo, who was accompanied for the whole run by friends and family members. He said he ran faster than his normal pace — which he has established in several marathons, ultralong distance jogs and Ironman triathlons — but when the rain hit, it took its toll.
“At the end I was getting cold, shaky and stiff,” said Alamo on Monday evening. “My muscles got cold right away when the rain started. The last 10 miles into Boothbay, I think I got the third wind, fourth wind, I don’t know.”
What Alamo got was the Timberwind. In his rear-view.
Joe Tassi said he was optimistic early in the day with sunny skies overhead and a breeze at the 98-foot Timberwind’s stern.
“We actually had a pretty good start,” he said. “Then the wind turned hard west and then came the rain. If we hadn’t had to deviate our course, we might have beat Dr. Alamo, or at least tied him.”
Alamo, an internal medicine doctor based in Boothbay, had pulled in the Timberwind’s heavy stern line about 7:30 a.m. Monday and shouted, “See you in Boothbay” to the vessel’s two dozen passengers before running up the dock en route to a journey he expected to take until 3 p.m. He was off by an hour and trotted into Boothbay Harbor’s Whale Park about 4 p.m. with his wife, three children and family dog Jack.
“I’m a little anxious this morning, just like before any other race. You always get those butterflies in your stomach,” said Alamo as he prepared for the run. “Once you start running, that kind of disappears.”
The Tassis were a little more relaxed about things.
“I think the doctor has a good chance of winning,” said Bob Tassi.
“But we have coffee, cinnamon rolls and corn chowder, so I think we’ll be fine,” said Joe Tassi.
As Alamo crossed into Damariscotta about 1 p.m., the vessel was near Monhegan Island. The race at that point was too close to call, with the Timberwind fighting the elements and Alamo facing the long and comparatively hilly run down Route 27 to Boothbay Harbor.
The race, dubbed “Jammers and Joggers,” kicked off the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce’s 50th annual Windjammer Days, which runs through Wednesday.
Alamo’s family drove the route and stopped at three-mile intervals with food and drink. At the first checkpoint, Alamo drank some ice-cold water and ate a single pretzel before continuing his quest.
Alamo’s wife, Chat, said her husband did nothing out of the ordinary Monday morning before his run. She’s accustomed to him accomplishing astonishing feats of endurance, including a triathlon a few weeks ago in New Hampshire. She said his breakfast was typical: a bagel with cream cheese and peanut butter and Costa Rican coffee.
“It’s also about supporting our community,” she said.
Alamo said he hoped his run serves as inspiration to others who need to improve their health with exercise.
“You don’t have to run 45 miles,” he said. “If you can just do 100 feet or 100 yards, that’s a good start. If a busy doctor like me can do it, everyone can at least spend a few minutes of their time each day staying healthy.”