LUBEC, Maine — Several years ago, Katherine Cassidy had the idea to bring a marathon to the Sunrise County.
While the concept took a backseat to family health issues for a couple of years, momentum for the Bay of Fundy International Marathon never waned.
On Sunday, June 22, this unique 26.2-mile road race that spans both the United States and Canada becomes reality.
The race begins at 8 a.m. from the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in South Lubec and heads to downtown Lubec before crossing the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Memorial Bridge onto New Brunswick’s Campobello Island. The route continues to Head Harbour Lighthouse on the island’s eastern tip, then heads back to the finish line in downtown Lubec.
As of Thursday morning, 508 runners had registered for the marathon with 292 runners set to compete in the companion West Quoddy 10K that begins at 9:15 a.m. at the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and ends at the Lubec Town Landing.
Those participation numbers are in stark contrast to Cassidy’s original modest expectations.
“I went to the Lubec selectmen in the spring of 2010 and told them I had a vision for a marathon, and I said we can get a hundred marathoners here,” said Cassidy.
A race committee eventually formed and met for the first time in early 2012, and soon after, the organizers were joined by John Hough, a former executive with the United Nations Development Programme who had moved to nearby Edmunds approximately two years ago, Cassidy said.
“He came to the launch of our marathon, asked a couple of questions and asked me to drive him around the course,” said Cassidy. “After we did that he said, ‘I want to be your race director.’
“His background is in project management and organizational logistics, so when he came into the picture, so much changed.”
Meanwhile, runners from both countries increasingly became intrigued by the two-nation concept of the marathon — which requires registrants to show their passports and be cleared in advance by both Canadian and U.S. border officials in order to participate in the race.
And the entries continued to arrive.
“When John came on board we talked about having 200 in the marathon and 100 in the 10K, and the numbers just kept growing,” said Cassidy, a state representative serving the towns of District 32 — Cutler, Eastport, Lubec, Machias, Machiasport, Roque Bluffs, Trescott Township and Whiting.
“We got to 600 or 700, and finally John and I looked at the numbers and said 800 and no more.”
The entry list includes runners from 36 states and Washington, D.C., as well as six Canadian provinces, Cassidy added.
The Bay of Fundy International Marathon also was approved as a qualifying race for the 2014 Boston Marathon last month after the course measurement and certification was accepted by USA Track and Field. Similar certification has been approved by USATF’s Canadian counterpart, Athletics Canada.
The 800 runners in the two races will be taken by shuttle bus from the Lubec school to the starting line at West Quoddy Head — which could present some logistical issues for race organizers in a community with just 1,359 full-time residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
“We share the same concern as everyone else, and that’s where are 800 cars going to park in Lubec over the weekend,” said Cassidy. “The Lubec school has parking for 452 cars for the Sunday shuttle runs, and beyond that people are just going to have to park and walk.”