The Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine. A mere five and a half hour drive from Ottawa. It's a very relaxing, scenic experience.
We first arrived at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort to check in at the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel. The hotel is geogeous with rustic farmhouse style decor mixed with a modern flair style.
The town is small and the locals are extremely welcoming.
If you are looking for things to do like shopping, nightlife, etc, this is not the place. The towns businesses are shut down during race weekend. However, local grocery stores and restaurants offer some of the best home cooked, organic foods and meals. Not to mention some of the best local micro brewed beers. The Kingfield Woodsman Restaurant's pea soup is to die for.
The marathon caps at 1500 runners making it a very small race. Sometimes these smaller races can be to your advantage as it's easier to get into your pace and not have to make your way through thousands of runners.
I arrived to pick up my race kit only to find out that there was no race expo. I guess that's not uncommon with smaller races. I was hoping to pick up some cool Sugarloaf race swag. Oh well.
Race day consisted of waking up at 4:30 am to thunderstorms to get on the 5:30 am bus that brings you to the start line up the mountain. 1500 runners waited in the cold and rain for an hour for the race to begin at 7 am. The race follows highway 27 (the main road) which runs through Maine's Carabassett valley. This course is a 10 mile hilly gradual ascent followed by a 16 mile hilly gradual descent. It's an open road course, meaning traffic was moving as you ran. Though it's advertised as a fast course and a Boston qualifier, it's a tough highway to run. Serious hill training is strongly encouraged.
It was a cold and rainy run. The air is cold, as this course is located north of the 45th parallel. It snows there 8 months of the year.
Because the course runs along the highway the entire way, spectators are few and far between to cheer you on.
Overall it was a great weekend. Beautiful scenery, amazing hotel, great food and beer. The race course was challenging. I would rate this race a 7/10.