BUCKSPORT, Maine — Eighty-one runners lined up on Broadway Street in Bucksport Saturday morning for the 38th annual Tour du Lac road race. The 10-mile course circled around Bucksport’s Silver Lake before returning to the start line at Bucksport Municipal Pool.
Erik McCarthy, 32, of Old Town took the overall number one spot, finishing in a time of 54 minutes, 55 seconds with a pace of 5:24 per mile.
Jennifer VanDongen, 35, of Bar Harbor placed first overall for women, coming in at a time of 1:05:44 with a pace of 6:35 per mile.
This is McCarthy’s fourth victory in the Tour du Lac, a race he has only missed once since starting it in 2002.
“I like the rolling hills,” McCarthy said about one of his favorite aspects about the race. “There are a lot of rolling hills. There’s quite a few big uphills between miles one and eight, after mile eight it’s pretty easy. Those first eight miles are the tough ones.”
McCarthy doesn’t recommend a fast start, but admits that whoever starts fast and maintains a good pace will be successful.
“As far as strategy, you shouldn’t go out too fast, but you tend to go out fast anyway and just hang on,” McCarthy said.
Rounding out the top five men’s runners included 17-year-old Daniel Curts of Ellsworth (59:26), 25-year-old Matt Homich of Ellsworth (59:27), 49-year-old Andy Beardsley of Ellsworth (1:01:41), and 59-year-old Robert Ciano of Castine (1:01:56).
The women’s top five included 36-year-old Kristine Guaraldo of Brewer (1:11:51), 42-year-old Katherine Collins of Winterport (1:14:27), 49-year-old Bethany Heslam of Northport, Fla. (1:14:57), and 54-year-old Lisa Kingsbury of Hampden (1:16:04).
This year’s race featured two broken records with Ciano breaking the ages 50-59 record, while 70-year-old John Tjepkema of Orono set a new mark in his age group of 70-79 as he came across the finish line in 1:22:12.
“[Race organizer] Chris Jones set me up for this by keeping track of all the records for the age groups. Having just turned 70, this was a goal of mine. He made it sort of an obsession for me to see if I could get the record,” Tjepkema said.
This is Tjepkema’s 14th time running the race, and says it feels good to finally have attained the record.
“I was setting my goal on it, so once I turned 70, I wanted to go as fast as possible,” he added.
Jones, the Bucksport High School cross country head coach, and his wife Margaret organize the race every year.
“We’ve been running this for somewhere between eight and 10 years,” Jones said.
Jones finished with a time of 1:07:56.
A unique tradition of the race involves a special award handed out at the completion. Rather than give finishers a certificate or T-shirt, the runners receive a jar of homemade jam.
“We did three years of other types of awards, and maybe five years ago we decided to do something different because the awards we were doing were copied by other races, so we decided to do something different and make jam,” Jones said.
“Margaret was working at the strawberry farm during the summer so it seemed like a natural thing,” he added.
Overall, the Jones’ were happy with the turnout and the success of the racing event.