Sarah Mulcahy was in no condition to labor through the challenging Bay of Fundy International Marathon a year ago.
But with labor of a different sort long completed — daughter Olivia will celebrate her first birthday Thursday — the teacher from Baring Plantation returned to what she describes as her home course in record-setting fashion Sunday.
The 29-year-old Mulcahy not only shattered her own women’s course standard, she also ran a sub 3-hour marathon for the first time in the unique cross-border event that traverses from America’s easternmost point at West Quoddy Head to Campobello Island, Canada, then back across the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to the finish line in downtown Lubec.
Mulcahy placed fifth overall among the 194 finishers with a time of 2 hours, 59 minutes and 18 seconds. That time easily eclipsed her previous course record of 3:16:12 set during the event’s inaugural race in 2013.
“I had made three goals before the race,” she said. “The first goal was to beat my course record on that course. The second goal was to PR — my best marathon before this was at MDI last year when I ran 3:04 — and my third goal was to go under 3 hours.
“I never, ever thought I’d get a sub-3 at Fundy, that course is not made for that. But my winter training was there, my base was there, so I was pretty happy.”
Mulcahy ran at a pace of 6:51 per mile to be one of five runners to complete the 26.2-mile course in less than three hours.
Her pace was closer to 6:40 for the first 10 kilometers that were more downhill than the hilly remainder of the race.
“I had set up to run with Ron [Peck, a Colby College professor from Waterville], who won last year’s race and had the same goal I did, to run sub 3 hours,” said Mulcahy, who prepped for the race by clocking 1:23:51 to place fifth at the Black Bear Half-Marathon held June 21 at the University of Maine in Orono. “We paced together for the first 16 miles and were pretty much on par with what we wanted, then Ron and another runner [eventual runner-up Andrew Messinger] ended up taking off, and I pulled back from them.
“I saw on my watch that I had a little time to give, and I slowed down on Miles 20 and 21, but then I picked it back up again from Mile 22 to the end. Once you see that bridge, you can hear people screaming your name over the water and it’s instant motivation.”
This was Mulcahy’s second Bay of Fundy run, as she sat out last year’s race while she and her husband, Jon, awaited the birth of their first child.
“Last year, I [was] 36 weeks pregnant, so I worked the finish line,” said Mulcahy, who a little more than two months before last year’s Bay of Fundy ran the 2014 Boston Marathon in 4:08:19 while 6½ months pregnant.
The Bay of Fundy victory marked Mulcahy’s seventh career marathon and second so far this year after she struggled amid heat and humidity to a 3:25:05 finish at the Maine Coast Marathon on May 10 in Biddeford.
She plans to return to the long-distance wars this fall at the MDI Marathon — where she ran her previous PR of 3:04:48 last October — as well as under the lights of the Las Vegas strip at that city’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in mid-November.
“This is the best shape I’ve been in ever for running,” said Mulcahy. “I think the next hardcore marathon will be Boston next year, and I’d like to see what I can pull off at a Sugarloaf or a Maine Coast with perfect weather.”
Brunswick’s Ashby paces field
Robert Ashby of Brunswick was this year’s overall Bay of Fundy International Marathon champion in 2:46:43, comfortably ahead of runner-up Messinger of Newton, Massachusetts (2:56:11). Jonathan Corso of Decatur, Georgia, was third in 2:56:56, followed by Peck of Waterville in 2:57:48.
Alicia Eno of Worcester, Massachusetts, was the second-fastest women’s finisher behind Mulcahy and 20th overall in 3:31:00, while Andrea DiVenere of Bristol, Connecticut, was third in the women’s division and 24th overall in 3:34:09.
The marathon was held in conjunction with a half-marathon and 10-kilometer race.
Scott Proulx of Northborough, Massachusetts, topped 245 half-marathon finishers with a time of 1:23:01, with Garnett Trubey of Brunswick second in 1:29:02. Megan Proulx, also of Northborough, Massachusetts, won the women’s division in 1:33:45, followed by Stephanie Barry-Benedik in 1:33:59.
David Girardin of Quebec City, Canada, (38:21) won the first West Quoddy 10K with Ellsworth’s Nick Brown second in 40:28. Also among the top five were Stephen Uresk of Greenlawn, New York (41:09), Peter Williams of Lubec (41:16) and Evan Merchant of Beals (42:52).
Lindsey Daman of Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, won the women’s division in 44:34, followed by Emily Mccarthy of Farmington (47:40), Shelby Greene of Columbia Falls (50:46), Kelley Uresk of Greenlawn, New York (51:29), and Wendy Urquhart of Bayside, Canada (51:41).
One-hundred-thirty-eight runners completed the 10K.