Ready, set, go! First ever of Acadia virtual races about to start

UPDATE 5/20/2016: Optional finisher’s medal to help raise funds for Acadia now available for purchase.

UPDATE 2/29/2016: New Acadia Centennial Trek page to serve as online guide to virtual 100-mile route, including mileage marker links to Google Maps views, other resources

On your marks! The starting pistol is about to go off for the first-ever Acadia Centennial Trek, a free virtual race that begins at the top of Cadillac and takes you 100 miles over mountains, on carriage roads, and along parts of the Mount Desert Island Marathon and Acadia Half Marathon.

acadia centennial trek

The virtual 100-mile Acadia Centennial Trek begins at the top of Cadillac; goes over sections of the Park Loop Road, carriage roads, and MDI YMCA’s Acadia and Fall Half Marathons; and ends at the finish line for the MDI Marathon. Each racer’s icon moves along the map with miles logged.

Whether you run, hike, walk or step-count your miles, and no matter where in the world you are, your position on the map of Acadia and MDI will move along as you log your distance. Only about a dozen more participants need to register for what might just be the first of many Acadia virtual races, before this year-long event goes live.

The Acadia Centennial Trek, part of our Acadia Centennial Partner commitment, is a special way to celebrate Acadia’s 100th anniversary, share about the park and local races and places, get more fit and encourage others. And it’s a way to keep Acadia on your mind, whether you live nearby or halfway across the world, whether you’re a perennial visitor or have yet to set foot in the park. There will also be the chance to purchase a finisher’s medal to help support the park.

ultramarathon

Christa Brey, the first to sign up for the Acadia Centennial Trek, is all smiles while running the 24-hour Croatan Ultramarathon in North Carolina in November 2015. (Photo courtesy Christa Brey)

The first person to sign up is Christa Brey of Lamoine, who works in the marketing department of Jackson Laboratory. She’s already invited a couple of friends to join her in the virtual race. Her map icon will be “CB,” and her runner’s handle, @Christa.

“I will be running and hiking. I run (a lot) in Acadia,” Brey says in an e-mail of how she’ll log her miles. A member of Crow Athletics, which sponsors the MDI Marathon, and a veteran of races real and virtual, Brey says virtual races are a “fun way to be involved from afar.”

It’s already starting to feel like a virtual Acadia running and hiking community. Thanks for being the first to join, @Christa!

Virtual races a great motivation to get more fit, explore Acadia

Among comments by others in the virtual community, as posted on the runners bio section of the Acadia Centennial Trek page:

acadia centennial

Be part of history by joining the first-ever 100-mile virtual Acadia Centennial Trek, and have the option of buying a finisher’s medal to help raise funds for the park. You’ll get a free finisher’s certificate e-mailed to you with your name and finishing time, using the same photo as in this announcement.

“I am trying to use this virtual race through my favorite place on earth, as inspiration to get more exercise,” writes @Cricker, whose map icon is “JS.”

“Logging miles – only while hiking – with husband and two energetic pit mixes. Most hikes will be in MD and ME,” writes @HikingWithPups, whose map icon is a photo of her with pup on a snowy trail. (You can upload a photo of 4 MB or less to serve as your map icon, in the bio section; else the initials of your first and last name – or nickname – will be the default icon.)

“I love hiking. We explored Acadia in 2015 and are headed to the Grand Canyon in 2016!” writes @CatsCatsCats.

Welcome all to the inaugural Acadia Centennial Trek! In a sense, you’re helping to make history, especially if the growing trend of virtual races takes hold in Acadia and surrounding communities, as it has in other parts of the country. If you haven’t signed up by the time the race goes live, that’s OK. You can sign up at any time, and have until Dec. 31, 2016, to complete the 100 miles.

We’ll be rolling out more features as this project develops. In addition to making this a virtual race with finisher’s medal (optional purchase to help raise funds for the park, details to come), we’ve set up a Facebook events page where members of the community can share, support or even gently razz each other, as the race launches and goes throughout the year.

Mileage markers on topo map, photos show where in Acadia you are

One fun way to make this race even more interactive, and broaden the sense of community, if some of you have the inclination and time:

How about adding photos, videos or comments on the Facebook events page for some of the mileage markers, as indicated in the below Garmin Connect map? (You can see all 100 mile markers by going to this link, and expanding the map.)

sunrise on cadillac mountain

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, where the virtual race starts at Mile 0 on the route (NPS photo)

For example, if you have a photo of a Cadillac sunrise you want to share, you could upload the photo to the Facebook events page and indicate that as being at the Start, or Mile 0 marker. Or if you have a photo of yourself crossing the MDI Marathon finish line, you could upload that and indicate that as being at the Finish, or 100 Mile marker.

Or you can simply upload a photo of where you actually ran or hiked, wherever you are in the world, as you log your miles for the virtual race. Running on your treadmill? Upload a photo of that!

If we have the time, we may do a page with links to Google Map photos, our own photos and videos, and other resources, for some of the 100 mile markers. As you run, hike or step-count by each marker, you can check out the page to learn more about that part of the park or community. We’d add a link to that page to the Facebook events page, and the message board of the race page.

And maybe we’ll even post virtual racing results on that page.

Just a dozen more sign-ups needed, and you’ll get an e-mail notification saying the race is going live the next day. Invite your friends, family and fellow Acadia fans, wherever in the world they may be!

On your marks, get set, go!

virtual races

We used Garmin Connect to custom design a 100-mile route for the virtual race that’s being hosted on Racery.com. To see 1-mile increments and elevation, click on this link, check the “Mile Markers” box, zoom in on the map with the + sign, and select “Terrain” from the dropdown menu below the icon that looks like a stack of papers.

How to sign up for Acadia Centennial Trek, log miles

– Go to http://racery.com/r/acadia-centennial-trek/
– Sign up by submitting your name (could be a nickname) and email using the above link
– You’ll be notified by email after at least 50 people have signed up; the race will start the day after
– Run, walk, hike or step-count anywhere, and track your miles by any means
– Reply to a daily email with your mileage for that day, or put your mileage in for earlier days – you can even upload a 4 MB or smaller photo to the reply email (if you opt out of the daily emails, you can log into your account and log the mileage for different days right on the map)
– Your place on the map is plotted instantly
– Your total mileage, runs/week, and miles/week will be tracked
– You can see activity in the trek over the last 72 hours, like another racer’s effort, make comments, or share on Facebook
– Racers can join at any time, and have until Dec. 31 to complete the course
– Optional finisher’s medal to be available for purchase at acadiaonmymind.com/acadia-centennial-partners, to help raise funds for the park

CAUTION: Don’t necessarily follow the virtual Acadia Centennial Trek route on any of your real-life exploration of Acadia. The route was drawn for the convenience of coming up with exactly 100 miles, covering all 26 peaks of Acadia on Mount Desert Island, some of the Park Loop Road, carriage roads and the routes of Acadia and Fall Half Marathons, and ending at the MDI Marathon finish line. It could be that some of the virtual route doesn’t follow any official trail, or goes up the hardest way, rather than the recommended way, up a particular mountain, or along less-than-scenic campground roads. We’d recommend getting a good topo map and hiking guide, before setting out on the trails. We’re fond of our own guides, of course (see sidebar), but you can search Amazon.com for other books or maps, or try a free app like Chimani. The sponsors of this race assume no liability for accidents happening to, or injuries sustained by, participants in the Trek. The sponsors also do not make any representations as to the conditions of the virtual routes as they apply to the actual routes at Acadia. If you are hiking, running or biking in Acadia National Park as part of the Trek, be sure to follow the rules for park passes, safety, and trail and road usage, available at nps.gov/acad.

2 thoughts on “Ready, set, go! First ever of Acadia virtual races about to start

  1. Jim Linnane

    This is a great idea and I will definitely sign up. Thank you for the link to a more readable map. Having spent a lot of time studying your first map, I had a lot of questions about your route choices, which i still have.

    Now I see that this is a “virtual race”. Not sure what that means, but I think it means that the participant should do her or his own race and update the community about progress, perhaps as a way to keep oneself on track. I assume that “virtual race” gives the participant liberty to vary the route a bit. That makes it a lot easier and more fun for someone of my age.

    If you are interested, here are some questions about your route, and thank you for the improved map:
    1. why so many road miles? Is that for bicycles or just for getting from one place to another?
    2. Is it possible to use a motor vehicle for the road miles, at speeds below the posted speed limit of course?
    3. did you consider using Isle au Haut and Schoodic Point trails as part of your 100 miles?
    4. why the tour through Seawall Campground? You could instead have used a walk around the access road at the Seawall picnic area and an out and back tour of the Hio road.
    5. on top of Saint Sauveur there are two ways to proceed from Valley Peak to the junction with the trail formerly known as the Ledges Trail down to the parking area. You chose the western side of the loop. Why did you avoid the more scenic eastern side of the loop?
    6. participants should be aware that the Valley Cove Trail is closed during the summer to protect nesting perigrine falcons.
    7. the 100 miles include, I assume, an old trail, impossible to find, up Youngs Mountain from the Breakneck Road, a bushwhack from Youngs Mountain over to McFarland Mountain, and a descent of McFarland to the Eagle Lake Road, presumably via a social trail that is marked by unofficial cairns. Is this part of the route intentional? I’ve done it and highly recommend it, but participants should be aware that time may be lost floundering around in the woods.

    Thanks for doing this.

    Reply
    1. Acadia on my mind Post author

      Hello Jim! Thank you for participating, and for your great questions. We’re sure others who have never done a virtual race have similar questions. So we’ll try to address them here as best we can. Many of them may be answered in “real time” once the race begins.

      Because this is virtual, you can do your miles however you want to, whether by hiking, running, step-counting or some other form of physical exercise. No driving mileage allowed (even though the virtual route goes along roads). Biking can count, but because a bicyclist can cover 100 miles so much faster than a pedestrian can, we’d recommend coming up with a handicap for those miles. Perhaps 10 miles biked to 1 mile walked? We’re the virtual race director making up the rules, but you the participant can bend them!

      When you log your miles into the race, your map icon will automatically move to reflect that distance. There are 2 ways to log your mileage, by replying to the daily email you’ll be getting from Racery.com, or by logging into your account and entering it on the map. See details we’ve added to this post, prompted by your comment. Everyone begins at the top of Cadillac, and the icons will start spreading out as everyone moves along at their own pace.

      In custom designing the route, which we purposely wanted to cover 100 miles, all 26 peaks on Mount Desert Island as has been listed on Acadia National Park’s Web site in the past, some of the Park Loop Road and carriage roads, and ending at the finish line of the MDI Marathon, we had to make some choices, arbitrary as they may be. The route isn’t intended to suggest that people bushwhack up trailless Youngs Mountain – that could be dangerous for the unprepared or unfit – but we wanted to include a virtual detour up it, since that peak has been featured on the park’s list of peaks before.

      The virtual route also arbitrarily meandered through Seawall Campground in order to come up with exactly 100 miles ending at MDI Marathon’s finish line. If we took the route through the picnic area, it would have been too short to end where we wanted the route to end.

      Same thing with choosing the wooded western side of the loop along Saint Sauveur, to fit the miles. It would have thrown the distance off by going the more scenic eastern side, with the views of Somes Sound.

      Unfortunately we couldn’t include Schoodic or Isle au Haut in the 100-mile virtual route. Else we’d be way beyond the distance. Or else we would have had to have drawn the route across Frenchman Bay or Blue Hill Bay.

      So the bottom line is, it’s a virtual route meant to spur thoughts of Acadia, in those who know the trails well as you do, and those who haven’t yet set foot in the park.

      Not sure if you have a Facebook account, but to make this event as interactive as possible, we encourage people to post comments and photos, either on the race page once the trek gets started, or a Facebook events page that we’ve set up. We’re also about to post a page on this blog that lets people click through to a Googles Map photo at or near each mile marker on the virtual route, and people can make comments on the bottom of that page. For example, if you wanted to point out the more scenic Saint Saveur loop to others who aren’t as familiar with the park as you are, you can do so there, referencing the closest mile marker.

      Unfortunately the technology for this first-ever virtual Acadia Centennial Trek is a little limited, so that we can’t have live links to Google Map photos right on the Racery.com or the Garmin Connect map. And we can’t include the mileage markers on the Racery.com map where the icons move along on the route.

      Thanks for participating, Jim, and sharing your wealth of knowledge of the trails of Acadia!

      Reply

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