Virtual Winter Olympics helps raise funds for Acadia, Millinocket

Just as real-life Olympians are going for the gold in PyeongChang, participants from across the USA are engaged in a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts, to earn a special medal and help raise funds for Acadia and Millinocket – and to make winter go by a little faster.

But instead of official Winter Olympics events like the biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting), one racer in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run came up with a virtual Winter Olympics competition he calls the Winter Duathlon, where any 2 sports back-to-back counts.

winter olympics

Thomas Zotti, a.k.a. @TomZot, goes for the gold with this open water swim as part of his Winter Duathlon for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Zotti)

“There really are no rules,” said Thomas Zotti, who goes by the virtual race name of @TomZot, in an e-mail. “It’s just something I made up a few winters ago when the weather forced me onto the treadmill at the gym and I stayed to do some lifting. My thought at the time was just to go from the mill to lifting. I have also snowshoed and then lifted.”

Zotti, of Wolfeboro, NH, even included a recent open water swim, part of a fire-rescue training exercise, as one of his 2 sports, although that’s “not necessarily representative of what I typically do as part of the duathlon.”

As a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts, anything goes for the more than 150 racers from around the USA signed up so far in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, and everyone’s a winner.

That’s because at least 5% of gross proceeds from race registrations go to support the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. And because everyone gets a medal (or two) upon the end of the race, whether they complete the virtual 200-mile route from Cadillac to Katahdin or not, by hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, running or engaging in any other sport anywhere in the USA.

virtual races with medals

Whether you’re part of team #hipster or #lumberjack, this is the buffalo-plaid-beribboned version of the Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion that you can earn. Made by Ashworth Awards, the same firm that makes the Boston and MDI Marathon medals, it’s been described as “Olympic quality” by one witness to a medal ceremony.

The virtual race ends April 10, and registrants can backdate miles as far back as Aug. 15, 2017, the original start of the race. And as we announced last month, only miles logged between Jan. 1 and April 10 (the first 100 days of 2018) will count toward a team #hipster vs. #lumberjack competition.

While there is no fierce rivalry between different nation-states in this virtual Winter Olympics, there is a friendly #hipster vs. #lumberjack showdown. And why these 2 team names? Because the limited-edition Maine-shaped medal featuring a raised lobster claw and pine tree, available as part of new registrations and as an add-on for original racers, comes with a special buffalo-plaid ribbon. And both hipsters and lumberjacks look good in buffalo plaid.

Register here, and see more details about registration at the bottom of this post.

acadia in winter

Snowshoers on the way to the Featherbed, along the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, as part of the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts.

Go for the gold in virtual Winter Olympics

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Announce your participation in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run by sharing this social-media friendly graphic. (Image by racery.com)

What are virtual races, you ask? They let people from anywhere in the USA or the world sign up to run, hike, walk, snowshoe, cross-country ski or log other forms of miles, whether to raise funds for charity, earn a finisher’s medallion or just set a fitness goal. Races can include technology-driven virtual routes that allow participants to see their progress, get a Google photo of their virtual location and check out the competition online, such as in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. Or it can be as simple as allowing people to record their mileage via the honor system in order to get a medal in the mail. There are different themes for virtual races with medals, and even Disney runs them. Check out what a Cadillac to Katahdin virtual racer experience can be like in this short video by racery.com, which hosts the race on its online platform.

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Although there are only 3 virtual racers self-identifying as part of team #hipster, @Coastwalker is single-handedly keeping the team in the running. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and organizers of the real-life MDI Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run was also the virtual edition of the first-ever Sea to Summit Series, and the virtual edition of Crow Athletics Club’s 2018 Streak-100, where club members aim to run or walk at least 1 mile a day for 100 days in a row. To learn more about the virtual race, check out this page we recently added.

Gary Allen, director of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, Sea to Summit Series and Crow Athletics, likens the impact of the races he’s launched as “a pebble tossed into still water,” with ever-widening rings of positive influence and inspiration. The rings have spread so far and wide, especially with his starting the free Millinocket Marathon & Half in December 2015 to provide an economic boost to the old mill town, that Allen has been profiled in Runner’s World, Down East Magazine and elsewhere. He received Bangor television station WLBZ’s 2 Those Who Care Award last year, for the boost his races have given to communities like Millinocket.

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Team #lumberjack has 15 members, but with an average of 534.4 miles per runner, it may still be possible for #hipster to catch up with its average of 509.2 miles per runner, as of this writing. (image courtesy of racery.com)

It’s easy to join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run

New race registrations ($35) include a digital bib, a digital finisher’s certificate, and the buffalo-plaid beribboned medal. Special price ($30) for new race registrations by participants and volunteers in either MDI Marathon & Half or Millinocket Marathon & Half, or by Crow Athletics members in Streak-100.

And if you originally signed up for the race last year and have already received last year’s medal, you can continue logging your miles through April 10 and add on the buffalo-plaid beribboned medal for $15 (postage paid), by tagging @AOMM in the virtual race message board. We’ll follow up with e-mail.

  1. Sign up with your name and e-mail at this registration page
  2. The race ends April 10
  3. You can track your daily miles any way you like, and can backdate them to Aug. 15, but only those logged between Jan. 1 and April 10 will count toward the #hipster vs. #lumberjack competition. Choose your team by going to your virtual race bio and type in the “Groups” field either #hipster or #lumberjack
  4. Log your miles on the race page
  5. Racery will keep track of fun stats like total mileage and miles per week

Scenes from virtual Winter Olympics, with Cadillac-to-Katahdin style

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This is what @sndgls, a.k.a. Sean Douglas of Turner, ME,  wore for one of his virtual Winter Olympics events. (Photo courtesy of Sean Douglas)

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A virtual gold medal to @mdijim, a.k.a. Jim Linnane, and teammates, who are seen here fixing a trail sign that had been upended by frost heaves on the Cadillac South Ridge Trail.

virtual race with medals

Virtual racer @Mamaof7Dogs, a.k.a. Valerie Silensky-Lowe of Washington, DC, helps us get through the dreary winter with this photo of Pippa, who is pretty in pink. (Photo courtesy of Valerie Silensky-Lowe)

winter olympics

Virtual racer @lishie, a.k.a. Alisha Chaney of Scarborough, shares her athletic footwear of choice, from Topo Athletic. She’s met @Bradcrazy, who’s in training for the Boston Marathon, @TomZot and @MaineMoxie in real life during these virtual Winter Olympics, but just missed meeting @Coastwalker at the Mid-Winter Classic in Cape Elizabeth.

Snow shoeing in Acadia National Park

Virtual Winter Olympians Maureen and Gerry Fournier (@RangerMo and @GO4Acadia) snowshoe along the Cadillac South Ridge. Can’t get views like this in PyeongChang.

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.