Global field of 400 racers covers 30,000 miles in Acadia virtual runs

To celebrate the Acadia Centennial, nearly 400 people from around the world have crisscrossed virtual routes on Mount Desert Island this year, collectively logging more than 30,000 miles of running, hiking or walking, and helping to raise funds for the park.

Among the most recent finishers of the Acadia virtual runs:

acadia virtual races

Ben Greeley of Waterville lets Pamola sport his Acadia Centennial Medallion, which he earned by running the virtual MDI Marathon. (Photo courtesy of Ben Greeley)

  • 10-year-old Lukas Modrusan of Bangor, who logged real-life cross-country practice and racing miles, and counted them toward the virtual edition of the Mount Desert Island Marathon
  • Ben Greeley of Waterville, who logged his training miles for the real-life MDI Marathon on the virtual marathon route, and shared a photo of his virtual finisher’s medal being worn by his faithful companion, Pamola
  • Pam Langford, who completed the virtual MDI Half Marathon while still a North Carolina resident, and looks forward to running and hiking the real-life trails and carriage roads of Acadia, now that she is moving to Bar Harbor next week
  • Robin Emery, who came in first in her age group (70-79) in the real-life MDI Half, in 2:35:18, and used those same miles to earn her virtual MDI Half finisher’s medal
  • Melissa Kim, children’s book author and editor at Islandport Press, who completed the virtual MDI Marathon at home in southern Maine, and did a lot of speed hiking in Acadia in advance as training.

The first-ever series of Acadia virtual runs began in February with the launch of the free 100-mile Acadia Centennial Trek, followed by parts 2 and 3 of the same trek. These races end on Dec. 31, and as of Nov. 12, there are only 50 days left to complete those 100-mile treks.

You can still join in on the virtual Acadia Centennial Trek, and if you average about 2 miles a day between now and Dec. 31, you can earn the right to the finisher’s medallion, available for optional purchase, to help raise funds for Acadia. The Trek is one of Acadia on My Mind’s contributions to the year-long celebration of the park, as an official Acadia Centennial Partner.

acadia centennial trek

Nearly 300 participants have signed up for the free 100-mile virtual Acadia Centennial Trek, hosted by Racery.com. You can still sign up now, and have about 50 days to complete the route before the race ends Dec. 31.

Acadia virtual runs draw 400 racers from US, Australia, Scotland, Canada

So far, nearly 300 trekkers have completed a combined 31,000 miles, with participants hailing from as far away as Scotland.

acadia centennial trek

@Mac is the first international recipient of the Acadia Centennial Medallion, having earned it logging her miles in Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, during the Acadia Centennial Trek. (Photo courtesy of @Mac)

The starting line of the Acadia Centennial Trek is on top of Cadillac, and the 100-mile route snakes over all 26 peaks of Acadia, along parts of the Park Loop Road and carriage roads (including sections of the real-life MDI YMCA-sponsored half marathons usually run in June and September), and ends at the finish line of the real-life MDI Marathon and Half.

Two other Acadia virtual runs – the MDI Marathon and Half – Acadia100 Virtual Editions – drew about 100 people, hailing from as far away as Australia. The virtual races followed the real-life 26.2- and 13.1-mile routes. Collectively, the participants ran, hiked or walked more than 2,500 miles during the 10-day duration of the events, which ended on Oct. 16, the same day as the running of the real-life MDI Marathon and Half.

Almost all the virtual finishers have received their medals, either in person at the post-real-life-race party at Side Street Café last month, or via US mail. We’re awaiting e-mail replies from the remaining handful of virtual racers to send out the last of the finisher’s medals.

acadia centennial medallion

The last big batch of Acadia Centennial Medallions for the finishers of the virtual MDI Marathon and Half went out in the US mail recently. A few more medals still to go out.

At least 5% of the gross proceeds from the virtual MDI Marathon and Half are going to help support Acadia National Park. Acadia on My Mind co-sponsored these virtual runs with Mount Desert Island Marathon and Crow Athletics, as an official Acadia Centennial event.

And at least 5% of the gross proceeds from the sale of the optional Acadia Centennial Trek Medal, along with other select Acadia on My Mind Shop items, go to help support the park as well.

Acadia virtual runs build sense of real-life community, accomplishment

In the months that we’ve been sponsoring the Acadia virtual runs, we’ve seen virtual competitors become real-life friends, learned of some of the deep connections people have to Acadia no matter where in the world they live, and found that a virtual race and a finisher’s medal can go a long way toward helping people set, achieve and mark personal fitness goals.

acadia virtual runs

Robin Emery, right, volunteered with Christa Brey at the pre-race expo for the real-life MDI Marathon and Half. Robin finished first in her age group at the real-life MDI Half. And both Christa and Robin earned the Acadia Centennial Medallion for being part of the Acadia virtual runs.

For instance, Robin Emery, a member of Crow Athletics and other running groups, signed up for the virtual MDI Half Marathon to add the Acadia Centennial Medallion to her bevy of awards, as well as to expand her community of people with common interests, whether it’s running or Acadia.

We met Robin when she was volunteering along with fellow virtual racer Christa Brey at the pre-race expo for the real-life MDI Marathon and Half, and have since become Facebook buddies and friendly competitors in a “Where in Acadia?” photo guessing game.

A welcoming personality, Robin e-mailed us this about one of her network of running peeps, the Maine Running Fossils: “The Fossils are a loose affiliation of runners over 50. We don’t have officers, just run in races and a few relays as a team. The only requirement is age, lol.”

Robin added that “at our ages (the oldest is 78), new members are always welcome. We like having youngsters in their 50s – ha!”

acadia virtual runs

Pam Langford, on the right, walked the MDI YMCA – Bar Harbor Bank & Trust Half Marathon in September 2011, with her friend Beth Schoenewe of Iowa. She looks forward to getting her finisher’s medallion for the virtual MDI Half Marathon mailed to her new home in Bar Harbor. (Photo courtesy of Pam Langford)

Pam Langford, another member of the Acadia virtual racing community that we’ve come to know online, wants us to mail her virtual MDI Half Marathon finisher’s medallion next week, after she moves from North Carolina to her new home in Bar Harbor.

She told us in an e-mail that she fell in love with Acadia 30 years ago, when she was on a work assignment in the area. “It was during the months of September and October. How could you do anything but fall in love with those colors?”

But over the years, she could only visit, such as in 2011, when she walked the MDI YMCA – Bar Harbor Bank & Trust Half Marathon in September with her friend Beth Schoenewe of Iowa.

That’s because Pam had been taking care of her mother, a survivor of polio, and didn’t feel she could talk her into moving to Maine. “I did get her there 5 years ago, and she ate at my favorite restaurant, Galyn’s. The owner helped me get her wheelchair in through the kitchen, and she ate prime rib…. Lol and said it was the best she had ever eaten. I had lobster.”

Pam’s mother passed away on Sept. 3. “I was lucky to have her for so long. An Angel on Earth and now in Heaven,” she said.

And now, Pam said, “It is time to start my new adventure in life at 56. I can’t wait to get to Bar Harbor as it has always felt like home to me, and now it will be.”

snowy owl

Melissa Kim, author of “A Snowy Owl Story” published by Islandport Press, was researching another book in Acadia while training for the virtual MDI Marathon. (Image courtesy of Melissa Kim)

For Melissa Kim, the virtual MDI Marathon gave her the chance to combine her love for Acadia, and the goal of running 26.2 miles.

“Thanks for doing the virtual marathon; I’ve never done a real one and the virtual way is the only way I will ever do one!” said Melissa in an e-mail. “I was in Acadia the week before the marathon researching a new book – a kids’ guide to hiking MDI – that I am editing, so I did a lot of speed hiking as training for the marathon, though I ran the 26.2 miles at home in southern Maine.”

She added, “I got married in Acadia and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I told lots of people about the virtual marathon, and was proud to accomplish it.”

May all the members of the Acadia virtual racing community feel that connection and sense of accomplishment, no matter where in the world they may be.

Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

About Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

Dolores Kong and Dan Ring are co-authors of the Falcon guides Hiking Acadia National Park and Best Easy Day Hikes Acadia National Park, and also blog at acadiaonmymind.com. They’ve backpacked the 270-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, and are members of the Northeast 111 Club, having hiked all major peaks of the Northeast. Dolores is a former staff reporter at The Boston Globe. Dan is a journalist and former Statehouse bureau chief in Boston for the old Ottaway News Service and for The Republican, the daily newspaper for Springfield, Mass. They are married and live outside Boston.