SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — Louie Luchini’s attention to running has focused on other pursuits in recent weeks.
The 31-year-old Ellsworth native currently is running for a second term in the Legislature, and he’s also an assistant coach for the Ellsworth High School cross-country team.
But Luchini spent Sunday morning back in a singlet, battling cool, drizzly weather and a fairly stiff late-race headwind to break his own course record while leading 906 finishers at the 11th annual Mount Desert Island Marathon.
Luchini was timed in 2 hours, 30 minutes and 41 seconds, more than four minutes ahead of runner-up P.J. Gorneault of Caribou and more than a minute faster than his 2010 course-record time of 2:31:54.
“The conditions were really tough out there today,” said Luchini. “It wasn’t bad at the start but the last 10K was brutal. Once we made the turn at Somesville (Mile 20) it was pretty much five miles uphill with a headwind and the rain.”
Heather Carlson, a first-time marathoner from Brighton, Mass., won the women’s division in 3:08:29.
“I wanted to finish under 3:30,” said the 27-year-old Carlson. “I had no idea what to expect. I have a friend who’s a marathon runner and she kept telling me, ‘You’ll get like a 3:10,’ and I told her she was insane. But I got a 3:08.”
Luchini, an 11-time All-American in cross country and track while at Stanford University during the early 2000s, fell out of the race lead when he took a bathroom break around Mile 10 of the run from downtown Bar Harbor around MDI to the finish in downtown Southwest Harbor.
“I lost a lot of time there and two or three guys were ahead of me,” said Luchini, who was competing in just his third marathon overall. “But I slowly worked my way back and around Mile 14 I caught my way back up to the lead.”
“I felt great up until Mile 20 and then with the cold and the wind I started cramping up and it was tough from there.”
Gorneault, a teacher from Caribou who was running his first marathon, remained within sight of Luchini until approximately four miles remained in the 26.2-mile race.
“The first half of the race was smooth sailing but when you hit that last 10K it was right into the wind and it took its toll on me,” said Gorneault. “The legs tightened up. My breathing was fine but it was just the legs. I don’t know if it was the wind and cold that affected it but my legs did tighten up that in last 10K.”
Justin Gillette, a Goshen, Ind., resident who was running a marathon for the seventh consecutive weekend, finished third in 2:36:29, followed by Samuel Jurek of Boston in 2:38:59 and fifth-place Evan Graves of Caribou (2:39:37).
Graves, an MDI native and the winner of the Sugarloaf Marathon in 2:33.06 last spring, had been training with Gorneault but did not plan to run this marathon until recently.
“My goal was to hit a six-minute pace and I pretty much did that until the last couple of miles,” said Graves.
Eric Rudolph of Ellsworth was sixth in 2:40:47, followed by 47-year-old David Herr of Canaan, Vt., a six-time MDI Marathon champion who was timed in 2:41:37.
Carlson was unaware she had won the $1,000 prize that goes to both the men’s and women’s overall champions until the post-race ceremony but was pleased with her marathon debut even before learning of the cash award.
“Starting off it was pretty easy, the hills weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be and I talked to some people along the way so that killed some time,” said Carlson, who works as a nanny. “Miles 20 and 21 were pretty tough because you know you’re close but you’ve still got another half an hour to go, and that headwind was rough.
“But I gave up on thinking about that and realized I had to do it anyway, so you start staring at your feet and just keep going.”
Leslie Beckwith of North Conway, N.H., was the second-fastest women’s finisher in a personal-best time for the distance of 3:17:14.
“Those were ideal conditions for me,” said Beckwith. “Cold rain, lots of hills, that’s what I like because where I live in North Conway I do a lot of mountain and trail running. This was a perfect course for me.”
Amanda Labelle of Rockland, the 2009 MDI Marathon women’s champion, finished third in 3:18:35, followed by Sarah Mulcahy of Baring (3:21:58) and Kristine Guaraldo of Brewer (3:26:53).