Giving a new meaning to social distancing, the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race brings far-flung family and friends virtually near, alone together, on a magical virtual tour of Acadia to Katahdin and along the coast from Lubec to Ogunquit.
With Acadia National Park closed until at least June 1 and the cancellation yesterday of what would have been the 20th anniversary of the Friends of Acadia Earth Day Roadside Cleanup, the virtual race with medals helps connect those with a love of the park as they “scale” the 26 peaks of Acadia together, no matter where in the world they’re logging hiking or running miles.
And with many Maine state parks shuttered until at least April 30, and real-life races and festivals cancelled or postponed, the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race provides a way to experience a virtual Vacationland, show support for Maine organizations, shake off some of the coronavirus cabin-fever blues and stay up on some of the COVID-19 updates.
Sponsored by this blog to help support Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library, and a new Robin Emery Prize – named after a Maine Running Hall of Famer and virtual racer who goes by the name of @Fossil, to be awarded to a 5th through 12th-grade girl who runs the Down East Family YMCA’s Main Street Memorial Mile – the Amazin’ Virtual Race runs from now through Aug. 8.
Sign up today and you have the chance to earn a medallion made by the same company that makes the Boston Marathon and MDI Marathon medals, with your choice of Maine-themed ribbon. You can backdate miles to April 16.
The 206.8-mile virtual race course features 10 segments with pop-up Google Street View photos and special red pindrops embedded in the map. Start by climbing all 26 peaks of Acadia, then go near or on some or all of such real-life race routes as Crow Athletics’ Bridge the Gap Race and Millinocket Marathon, and along such scenic coastal hikes as Mowry Beach Preserve in Lubec and Marginal Way in Ogunquit.
There are even Stephen King-themed virtual stops along the route, and pop-ups with information about local businesses or race postponement news. Finish atop Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Everyone is a winner in the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race with medals
You don’t have to complete the course to be a winner, as everyone gets a digital race bib, a digital certificate at completion of the race, and emailed postcards upon finishing even just the first segment of the virtual race with medals, all 26 peaks of Acadia at 56 miles.
You’ll be automatically entered into giveaways of Maine-themed prizes, such as L.L. Bean gift cards, Friends of Acadia membership and Gift MDI certificate.
Since 2017, our virtual races with medals have helped raise more than $1,500 for charity, with more than 300 participants from around the world, ages 10 to 70+, logging a total of more than 158,000 miles, by running, hiking or walking anywhere in the world.
Virtual racers a cast of characters, with interests all over the map
Some are serious ultramarathoners, others are trying to improve their health and fitness after a long period of inactivity. Some are Friends of Acadia members, while others are supporters of Millinocket Memorial Library. And some are friends of Robin Emery, who has a deep connection not only to local racing clubs like Crow Athletics based on Mount Desert Island, Eden Athletics based in Ellsworth, and the Sub5 Track Club based in Brewer, but also to Acadia.
So far in the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race with medals, we have participants stretching from Florida to Oregon, Maine to Missouri.
Here’s some of the cast of characters, and part of their stories.
@MillinocketMatt – Named the state’s top librarian by the Maine Library Association in 2018, Matt Delaney has spearheaded the Millinocket Memorial Library centennial renovation campaign and such innovative programs as the Katahdin Gear Library, where people can borrow such outdoor gear as mountain bikes, kayaks, skis and snowshoes. An avid runner, this is the first time he’s joined the virtual race, which has helped raised funds for the library the last few years. “Wow, this is fun! I’m sorry I didn’t jump on this when you started, but I’m glad to be part of it now. What a blast to turn a super solitary pursuit into a social one!” he told us in an email.
@Fossil – Called “Maine’s first lady of road racing,” Robin Emery has inspired runners like Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson and continues to run in real-life races all around Maine and in this virtual one. She’s had a book written about her, a Robin Emery Trophy named after her (given to the first female finisher in the Bangor Labor Day 5 Miler) and now, a Robin Emery Prize, being supported by proceeds from this virtual race, to be awarded to a 5th through 12th-grade girl who runs the Main Street Memorial Mile in Ellsworth. She also has deep connections to Acadia. (PLEASE NOTE: See sidebar about Amazon.com links)
@Luluphi – Not only is Lisa Horsch Clark director of development and donor relations for the Friends of Acadia, she’s also honorary coach of the virtual race’s #TeamFOA. Everyone who signs up for the virtual race and opts for the “I LOVE Friends of Acadia” medal is automatically part of #TeamFOA, as we’ll have a friendly competition between #TeamFOA, #TeamMML (for Millinocket Memorial Library, with @MillinocketMatt nominated to be honorary coach) and #TeamRobin (with @Fossil as honorary coach).
Virtual race with medals features new “Coastal Trails of Maine” highlights
As authors of the upcoming “Coastal Trails of Maine, including Acadia National Park,” being published by Falcon Guides on July 1, we’ve also included some of our favorite seaside hikes in the virtual race route, from Lubec to Ogunquit. (PLEASE NOTE: See sidebar about Amazon.com links)
We hope to be able to do a real-life book tour at Sherman’s Maine Coast Bookshop, but in the meanwhile, below are a few images we’ve embedded in the virtual race map to pique your interest about the coastal trails of Maine.
As a public service, we’ve included links in red pindrops to some of the agencies that own or manage the coastal properties in the race map.
It’s easy to join the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Racers – here’s how
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 Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race. 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 virtual racer experience can be like in this short video by Racery, a leading provider of virtual races for nonprofits and companies, which powers our races.
- Sign up with your name and e-mail at this registration page
- The race ends Aug. 8
- You can track your daily miles any way you like, and can backdate them to April 16
- Log your miles on the race page
- Racery will keep track of fun stats like your total mileage and miles per week
Thanks to Racery’s virtual race platform, which has powered our virtual challenges since 2016, beginning with the Acadia Centennial Trek. In addition to virtual races for charity fundraising like ours, Racery hosts many company virtual fitness challenges.