EUSTIS, Maine — What has suddenly become a rather busy season for marathons in Maine will continue Sunday morning with the 31st Sugarloaf Marathon. The race starts at the Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustis, follows south along State Route 27 and ends in downtown Kingfield.
The Sugarloaf race takes place just one week after the Maine Coast Marathon from Kennebunk to Biddeford was held for the first time since 1986. More than 1,000 runners are set to compete in either the Sugarloaf Marathon or its companion 15-kilometer race that follows the final 9.3 miles of the marathon route.
According to Sugarloaf Mountain communications manager Ethan Austin, there are 1,050 entries for this year’s two races. This is down just slightly from last year’s record of 1,100.
“But it’s still our second-highest total for the two races,” Austin said. “For five or six years we had broken the record every year. Back in 2004 and 2005 the total was about 400 combined, so we’ve just about tripled the numbers over the last six or seven years.”
Austin said the state’s longest continually run marathon not only is attractive for runners — it’s considered a fast course and serves as a Boston Marathon qualifier — it also has proven attractive to the hosting communities for more than three decades.
“It’s great for us, and it’s great for the region,” he said. “This is a slow time of year for us because the ski area is closed and the golf course is not quite ready, so the marathon comes at a good time for the local economy.”
The slight drop in Sugarloaf entries this year may stem not only from the return of the Maine Coast Marathon a week earlier, but also from the addition of the inaugural Bay of Fundy International Marathon scheduled in Lubec on Sunday, June 23.
“It just seems like road racing in general has become more popular again over the last five or six years,” said Austin. “The time seems to be right for these races.”
Evan Graves of Caribou was last year’s Sugarloaf Marathon winner, leading the field of 574 finishers in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 6 seconds. Meredith Freimer of Portland was the women’s champion in 3:07:59.
Defending Sugarloaf 15K champions are Judson Cake of Bar Harbor who finished in 47:47 and Marie-Caro Cote of Montreal, Quebec, who completed the race in 59:20.
Austin said last month’s Boston Marathon bombing victims will be remembered via a special logo on the official Sugarloaf race shirts and likely in other more subtle ways as well.
“I’m sure it will be on people’s minds,” he said.
McCarthy wins Maine Coast Marathon
Steven McCarthy of Greene, who was sixth in last year’s Sugarloaf Marathon, won what is now the state’s first 26.2-mile test of the year, last Sunday’s Maine Coast Marathon.
The 26-year-old McCarthy led a field of 262 finishers with a time of 2 hours, 47 minutes and 13.3 seconds.
David Murphy and John Williams, both of Waterville, were second and third in 2:54:14.3 and 2:54:15.1, respectively.
Jennifer Sawyer, 27, of Buxton was the fastest women in the field, placing 14th overall in 3:07:07.7.
Luchini reigns at Mother’s Day 5K
Ellsworth’s Louie Luchini won the 13th annual Portland Sea Dogs Mother’s Day 5K for the fourth straight year Sunday, posting a winning time of 15 minutes, 3 seconds in the event that concludes at Hadlock Field, home of the Boston Red Sox Class AA affiliate.
Luchini finished six seconds ahead of runner-up Robert Gomez of Saco, who placed second in the race for the second straight year.
Erica Jesseman of Scarborough was the women’s winner in a course-record time of 16:42. That bettered the previous mark of 16:59 set in 2009 by Sheri Piers of Falmouth.
More than 3,000 runners entered the event.