Bay of Fundy International Marathon was an experience
I finished 50th out of 198 runners. In the Male 40-49 group I came in 12th out of 25. At the turn around on Campobello I was 45th overall and 14th in my group. The numbers have changed since they were first posted on Sunday; I got bumped from 49th place. More on race times later.
I saw this race last year and thought that it looked interesting. Driving all the way to Down East Maine qualifies this as a “Destination Race” in my book. The allure of the race and mystique of the location kept this race on my mind, but I could not work the Inaugural running of the Bay of Fundy International Marathon into my schedule. When I started making my schedule for this year I resolved that this would be my destination marathon for 2014.
My sister and I have been planning to spend some time together. With families and jobs it has been a challenge. She lives on the coast of Maine along the way to Down East Maine, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend some time together. I drove to her house Friday night in heavy rain, and we drove to Lubec Saturday morning in some occasional light rain.
We had a nice early morning drive down Rt. 1 to Lubec. Traffic was light and we didn’t run into much construction at all. We drove past the University of Maine at Machias where my sister graduated. The town and campus have changed a bit over the years, but much remains the same.
Our motel was in East Machias. Even though we were early they let us check in and go to our room. Much to our surprise there was a shared deck overlooking the river. The view was awesome, but we only stayed for about five minutes. We still had to get to Lubec and Campobello for bag and number pickup.
At all of the main turns, the race organizers had nice big signs for us. They were easy to see and placed so that we could
anticipate the turns. We found Lubec High School, parked right out front and went into the Expo. There was a small crowd in the High School Gym.
As I stood in line to pick up my packet I looked around at the walls of the gym. Like most gyms, there were lots of banners from years gone by. Records set and tournaments won. It was nice to feel the presence of all of the youthful energy and pride that was required to earn those banners. The building is old, but looks well cared for. In a town like this, the high school is the center of a lot of activities.
The swag bag was an over-sized bait bag made from yellow nylon rope. Just like the ones lobstermen use in their traps. They told me I could use it for my drop bag on race morning. I moved to the next table and got my long sleeve tech race shirt and then bought a race decal for my car and a 2nd Annual Bay of Fundy International Marathon poster.
We were many miles from my sister’s home, but the lady at the table selling posters, stickers and shirts works in the same school district as my sister. They immediately recognized each other and had a nice chat and many laughs. The woman’s mother was involved in the race. I think she strung the cord for all of the medals. Pretty cool.
We wandered around and spoke with the vendors. I spoke with a guy from a running shop in Bar Harbor who came out to provide runners with things they may need. He didn’t have a lot. I made some suggestions and gave him my business card. Then we went to the table of the company that provided the shirts for the race.
The shirts were made by Atayne out of Brunswick Maine. All of their products are made from 100% recycled polyester and made “fiber to finish, in the USA”. I spoke with them for a while, they added a cool graphic to my shirt. They use heat to transfer the design directly into the fabric of the shirt. It’s not a screen print, it’s part of the fabric. Pretty cool. I gave them some business cards also.
Over the border
My sister’s passport had not arrived in the mail by Saturday morning. One of the vendors at the Expo told us she could cross with a driver’s license, if her passport info was in the system. We drove from the high school and parked beside the border station. We headed towards the US border crossing and approached a Border Agent. My sister explained her situation and the man kindly explained that there wouldn’t be any problem coming back as long as she was in the system. I couldn’t believe it. He made it sound like no problem at all.
We drove over the bridge and stopped at Canadian customs. More nice people. There was an agent asking drivers if they were in the marathon, if they were she waved us over to another, shorter line. They took my passport and looked for me on the list of runners. I wasn’t there, so I had to go into the Canadian Border station so they could look me up. Customs always makes me nervous. I always feel like I must be breaking some law I don’t even know about.
It looked like they all had bullet proof vests on under their shirts. This made them all look huge, WTF were they expecting? I guess anything. They booted up a PC that looked like it was running Windows NT. Good god I thought. They managed to find me quickly and sent us back out to our car. I forgot that I had almost a case of beer in my trunk, but told the agent, “nothing to declare”. I was hoping they had not checked my car while we were in the border station. Customs can do what ever they want to you, checking my trunk was not beyond the realm of possibilities.
We hopped in the car and drove off. Shew! It would have sucked to get busted smuggling Wachusett Green Monsta IPA’s into Canada! We headed towards Herring Cove Campground to pick up my bib. We stopped at the office and they directed us to the back of their campground. They were talking my ear off and I could have been there for 10 minutes. Talk about nice people.
We made our way to the outdoor expo at the back of the campground. They were set up for their pasta dinner with lots of dinning flies set up. There were a few vendors and the all important bib number table. As I stood in the short line for my bib a jovial fellow walked up, shook my hand and welcomed me to Campobello Island. I thought he was the mayor or with the chamber of commerce. He put a Canadian flag pin and a New Brunswick flag pin into my hand and told me he was Curtis Malloch, the local rep in the provincial legislature. He proudly told me, the first one elected from the island.
We had a great chat, he asked where we were from and told us a bit about the island and things to do. I have no idea what his politics are but he is one of the biggest advocates for the island that I met all weekend. The ladies at the table gave me my bib, wished me good luck, and Sue and I strolled around the camp-ground. Not a lot to see. I got a bottle of water from the bin that was set up for runners and we headed for the car.
All day I had been feeling run-down and tired. I was still recovering from my trip to Vancouver last week and the red-eye flight home. Throw in a few late nights and early mornings and I was exhausted. This anchor of exhaustion was weighing me down and I feared it would diminish my effort on Sunday. I hoped the water would help.
When we left the camp ground we took a right and headed east towards the light house. Usually I don’t drive a race course, but the contour map looked brutal and I was in the neighborhood. There were a lot of hills, something for everyone: Short steep hills, long hills, one was 0.7 miles, hills with a turn. A fair amount of down hill just so you could have another hill. Fantastic I thought.
Here is the official course description:
While the course does not climb more than 200 feet / 60 metres above sea-level, it goes up and down rather a lot in between. In consequence map generated elevation charts can be misleading. A course profile generated from a GPS watch is shown below.Total course elevation gain is approximately 2,400 feet / 730 metres.
When we got to the end of the road there was a parking lot but we could not see the light house. We got out and walked down a path and saw the light house on a ledge separated from the shore by angry-looking water. There was no way to get any closer. We stopped and spoke with two ladies who were going to walk the marathon. They had a great picnic table over looking the boiling lobster pot that was the bay.
The current looked like it was going in several directions including up and down. Not a place to go for a swim. A sign said that the water rises 5 feet per hour. Not just 5 feet, but per hour! If you got stuck on the little island where the light house was, you could be there for 8 hours. Only a fool would attempt to make the short swim. In this photo the water looks calm but the current is there.
Back to the USA
As we approached the border station, the Canadians saw my bib in the window and waved us through. As we went over the bridge I worried if the US Customs agents would be as nice when we wanted to come back. They took my sister’s driver license, asked her a few questions and gave her documents back. They had me on the runners list and checked me in. Piece of cake.
We decided to have lunch in Lubec. It was fairly easy to find a parking spot and there were only as few places to eat, so choosing was easy. We ate at Cohill’s Inn which has a bar and restaurant on the first floor.
As we entered the bar, a table of runners greeted us. We chatted briefly then Sue and I headed for our table. As we waited for our meal one of the runners came over to our table and struck up a conversation.
He said he was from Pittsburgh and I thought his name was Mike. We were both wearing Boston Marathon jackets and got talking about 2013. He had just crossed the finish line and his wife was on the line when the first bomb went off. She was hit by shrapnel but luckily was not injured.
Our food arrived and Mike’s group was getting ready to leave for a walk around Lubec for a bit. We invited him to sit with us and talk while we ate. His wife came over and spoke with us briefly and we had a few laughs. They went for their walk and Mike and I traded stories. We had a great time and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.
I didn’t see him at the start or after the race. Maybe with a hat on I didn’t recognize him, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak with him again. If he is the same guy, he came in first in the Male 60-69 group at 3:54. Nice run!
After lunch, we headed back to Machias to drop off our bags and get ready for the pasta dinner. We figured we would have enough time to get to our room, drop off our bags and sit for a few minutes before heading back. That’s about what we did. Around 4:20 we headed East and got the Lubec High School well before 5PM.
Dinner, new friends and old friends
There was a small group gathering in the hall way outside of the high school cafeteria. We could see many volunteers setting up food and utensils. They had quite a crew. As we stood there a young man came in and spoke with two ladies in front of us. He was friendly and had an accent that definitely was not Down East. I thought I heard one of the ladies say something about looking for people heading to Boston. It seemed like idle chit-chat. As we waited the Machias Ukuleles set up and started playing.
At precisely 5PM they let us into the cafeteria. The volunteers loaded us up and we grabbed a table in the middle of the room. Shortly after we sat down a couple asked if they could sit with us. Dan was running the marathon and his wife Marty was speed walking the 10K. He had run over 450 races, but it had been 20 years since his last marathon.
He’s run every state and just about every county is Georgia where they are from. They came all the way to Maine to run this marathon. We later found out that Dan and his friends managed some of these races and raised money for charity because otherwise there would not have been a 5K in some of these counties in Georgia.
While having this great conversation about running and travel, one of the ladies from the hallway came over and asked if we were from Boston. She said she knew this young man from Germany who needed a ride to Boston on Monday. Sue and I were both a bit puzzled.
We were staying at her house Sunday night. I wasn’t sure she was okay having a stranger sleeping in her house. I had plans to meet up with Ramshackle Runner Monday on my way back. How was this going to work?
A few minutes later the lady came over to our table with this young guy. He was tall and looked rugged, but not like a distance runner. He sat next to Dan across the table and a few feet to my right. I worried that in this loud room with his accent and my hearing that I would not be able to understand him. Fortunately the room wasn’t that loud and he spoke very good English.
As we spoke he told us his story. When he told us that he was from Heidelberg Dan started talking to him in German! The young guy had a big smile on his face as the two of them spoke. Sue and I were amazed at the coincidence. What are the chances that this guy sits next to an American who can speak German!
He is a physics student spending the summer at Brandies University working on his Bachelors Thesis. He has done a lot of travelling and was doing as much travel as possible while in the US. He said that he watched the 2014 Boston Marathon and felt inspired to run a marathon. I knew Boston was only about seven weeks ago.
I asked him if he had ever run a marathon before. No. How long had he been training, five weeks! His last long run was 30K, but that was three years ago. I asked him about his shoes and he said he had some Adidas running shoes but they were three years old! He said he didn’t use them much so they should be okay.
Dan shook his head with each question. First because each question was like a runner’s check list, and then in amazement when he heard the answer. This guy was going to run a marathon on five weeks of “training” in three year old shoes. When I asked him about gels or other food he said, “do I need to take food with me?” Dan and I laughed. I told him he was going to be out there for about five hours and he would need food of some sort.
I was genuinely concerned for this guy. Each answer was wrong and it is possible to get hurt running a marathon when you are not prepared at all. I think he was getting worried also. I finally asked him how old he was. He said 23. With a big smile I said, “That’s 10 points in your favor right there.” He said, “at least I have something going for me.”
He said his name was Daniel and that he did not like being called “Dan”. Daniel Getz from Heidelberg. He had some granola bars and I told him to take those with him. I told him we would talk in the morning and I’d make sure he was okay. I felt like I gave him my years of knowledge in about five minutes. Unfortunately there wasn’t any time to use most of it.
Dinner was pretty good. I’d never been to a pre-race pasta dinner. They had a great group of volunteers and they loaded us up. Pasta, sausage, salad, bread from Boot Cove Bread which was awesome and a melon and blueberry bowl. A lot of good local food. A volunteer came to our table and told us we could have three pieces of chocolate from the table at the front of the room. I went up and spoke with Monica Elliott from “Monica’s Chocolates”. She was very excited and seemed to want to give me one of each chocolate. They were all hand-made and many incorporated local ingredients such as blueberries or cranberries. They were really good.
I was full from dinner and a plate of home-made cookies I also picked up. While we sat and talked a volunteer dropped by with a survey for us. It was quick and fun. At some point another friend of my sister showed up. Her name was Paula and she lived in the same town. Another crazy coincidence. Paula was a runner but was there supporting her friend Therese Withee from Hope, Maine. Paula had all kinds of stories, she and Sue talked for quite a while. I managed to speak with Therese a little bit also.
We told Daniel we would give him a ride and told him we were staying over night at Sue’s Sunday night. I would drive him to North Station on Monday. He was very happy with that. Eventually Dan and Marty took off and so did Daniel. Everyone had eaten all they wanted and there was a ton of food left. Many people were gone and the room was getting empty. The band had even packed up.
I went over to the food table and packed a bowl full of cookies. On the way out Monica gave me some more chocolates. She still had about a quarter of them left. I was happy to help her out.
With full bellies we headed back to East Machias. It was still day light out and we enjoyed the drive and couldn’t believe the crazy coincidences. We stopped at Shop & Save in Machias and got some food for breakfast. When we got to the motel I went into race prep mode. I layed out all of my gear on the table and checked it 3 or 4 times. While I did my gear check Sue took her shower and then I took mine and checked everything again. We had decided to get up at 4:45 instead of 5AM to make sure we had plenty of time for me to get to the buses.
Race Re-cap tomorrow
Run well my friends and enjoy the weekend!
© anagelin 2014