May 27, 2019
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Founder of MDI, Millinocket marathons receives national award

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Millinocket Marathon and Half organizer Gary Allen discusses the race during a Millinocket Town Council meeting in this BDN file photo.

Gary Allen of Great Cranberry Island, founder and director of the Mount Desert Island Marathon, has been named the 2018 MarathonFoto/Road Race Management Race Director of the Year.

Allen was honored Thursday during a reception at the Road Race Management race directors’ meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“This year we had a remarkable group of nominees, and Gary emerged as the winner,” Road Race Management president Phil Stewart said in a news release.

“Our winner has touched the soul of the running community in his home state in many ways — including lifting spirits in an economically depressed town by directing a free marathon [in Millinocket] and gathering awards by local artisans for another. His accomplishments and energy are legendary in Maine,” Stewart said.

The MarathonFoto/Road Race Management Race Director of the Year award is presented annually to recognize and promote excellence in race directing. Nominees were judged on several factors including overall ability, reputation of race, creativity and organizational ability.

Described by legendary runner Bill Rodgers as “the gold medal of race directing,” the RRM award is one of the most prestigious honors in the sport of road racing, and winners are selected by a committee of race directors, athletes, media, corporate executives and club officials.

Allen, who is scheduled to be inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame on Sunday, has developed the Mount Desert Island Marathon into a destination event for runners from around the country. The event has been recognized by Runner’s World as the most scenic marathon in the nation, while New England Runner magazine recently recognized the MDI Marathon as its race of the year.

Allen also has founded several other distance races around Maine, including the Millinocket Marathon and the Great Cranberry Island 50K Ultra.

Legendary marathoner and running journalist Amby Burfoot describes Allen as “one of running’s most creative minds and race directors. He’s been putting on original and fun races for decades, and I hope he never lets up.”

Allen also is a prolific runner who has run sub-3-hour marathons in each in five different decades.

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