Acadia, Millinocket fans join forces for virtual race 2017

Jessica Jourdain was only 4 when she moved away from Millinocket, but her heart and mind never left. Now, she’s lining up for the first-ever Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run that’s just begun, and running the real-life Millinocket Half Marathon in December, to help raise funds for her struggling hometown.

virtual race with medals

Jessica Jourdain and her husband Justin ran the Millinocket Half Marathon last December in subzero weather, and are hoping for warmer temps this year. Weather won’t be a concern during the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Jourdain)

Judy Lackey took early retirement from her job in health care IT in Connecticut earlier this year, but longs to move to Maine, where she’s been running road races to explore different towns, from Portland to Castine. Now, she’s signed up for the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race 2017, and the Millinocket Half Marathon, to learn more about the state both virtually and in real life.

Maureen Fournier sells park passes and provides visitor information as an Acadia National Park ranger, but on her days off she goes hiking, whether the trails of Acadia, Baxter State Park, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument or elsewhere. Now, she’s joining the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race 2017, to both help raise funds for Acadia and Millinocket, and give her another reason to hike.

“I’m excited to do the race,” said Fournier, who goes by the virtual race trail name of @RangerMo and uses a hiking boot as her avatar on the virtual race route. “It’s all so healthy.”

@RangerMo, @JessicaJ (Jourdain, an office administrator in Sanford, ME) and @Judylackey are among the scores of participants from around the country that have lined up so far for the virtual race, an epic 200-mile journey that starts on the top of Cadillac, the highest point on the US Atlantic seaboard; includes the real-life routes of the Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half (being run Oct. 15 this year) and the Millinocket Marathon & Half (being run Dec. 9); and ends atop Katahdin, the highest point in Maine and northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

One racer from Morrill, ME – who goes by the virtual race name of @Robrn2000 and has a real-life goal of running 1 marathon a month, and a total of 1,500 miles in 2017 – was first out of the gate, logging 5.2 miles before 7 a.m. this morning.

What’s a virtual race, you ask? It lets people from anywhere in the world sign up to run, hike, walk 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 and check out the competition, such as in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, or 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 national-park themed virtual races, and even Disney runs them. Check out what a Cadillac to Katahdin virtual racer experience can be like in this short video.

Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind, Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run helps raise funds for the nonprofit Our Katahdin, Millinocket Memorial Library and Friends of Acadia. The Cadillac to Katahdin race is also the virtual edition of the first-ever Sea to Summit Series, where runners who participate in both the real-life MDI and Millinocket races can earn a special Sea to Summit finisher’s medallion.

Register now for the virtual race, and you have 117 days, from Aug. 15 to Dec. 9, to run or walk 200 miles, anywhere in the world. If you register late, you can backdate daily mileage to Aug. 15. And if you can’t complete the 200 miles by Dec. 9, you can log any additional miles needed on another virtual race that we’ve sponsored, the Acadia Centennial Trek.

virtual race with medals

The day had barely dawned, and @Robrn2000 was first out of the gate with a 5.2 miler. Register now to join the first-ever Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, and watch your race avatar move along the 200-mile route, from Cadillac to Katahdin. (Image courtesy of

Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race 2017 part of effort to boost regions

Gary Allen, director of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, and Sea to Summit Series, 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.

virtual race

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

Just as the real-life MDI Marathon & Half have extended the Acadia area’s season beyond Columbus Day, and the Millinocket Marathon & Half have brought a boost just before the holidays to what has been an economically challenged Katahdin region, we hope this virtual race can be like another one of Allen’s pebbles tossed in still water, to help bring more funds and recognition to these two different and very special parts of Maine.

And just as more real-life visitors to Acadia are heading inland as part of their vacation, with the addition of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument last year, may our blogging about the new Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Race spur people to learn more about both regions, whether they’ve ever set foot in Vacationland or not.

Over the next 117 days, we plan on adding a Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race 2017 page to our blog to allow readers to learn more about the regions, and businesses and organizations to add information about their services.

We added such a page for the 100-mile virtual Acadia Centennial Trek we sponsored last year, linking to Google Street View photos for spots along the virtual route and describing sites to see in Acadia National Park. We already feature pages of year-round businesses and organizations in the Acadia region on our blog, and plan to expand listings to include Katahdin region businesses and organizations.

At least 5% of the registration fees ($30 for participants who are signed up for one of the real-life MDI or Millinocket races, and $35 for all others) from the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race 2017 go to benefit the nonprofit Friends of AcadiaOur Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library.

The fee includes the Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion, made by Ashworth Awards, the same company that makes the MDI and Boston Marathon medals; a digital bib and finisher’s certificate; and participation in the virtual race, which displays Google Street View photos where available, of where you virtually are based on your day’s ending mileage.

virtual race

The 3″ Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion features a raised lobster claw (around where Cadillac would be on the Maine map) and raised pine tree (around where Katahdin would be). (Image by Ashworth Awards)

There’s an option during registration to add a second medal, the collector’s edition of the Acadia Centennial Medallion, for $10 (regular price, $25). Medals will be mailed as participants finish, beginning no later than early December, domestic postage included, with an extra charge for international shipping.

Virtual races are a growing fitness trend, offering runners and walkers the ability to be part of a real-life race anywhere in the world, or to join with family and friends in all corners of the earth for a fun challenge. They also offer the chance to raise funds for charity, earn a finisher’s medal and be part of a real and virtual community.

We first teamed up with MDI Marathon last year in co-sponsoring the MDI Marathon and Half Marathon – Acadia100 Virtual Edition, as a joint Acadia Centennial Partner commitment to celebrate the 100th anniversary and help raise funds for the park.

We powered that race, as well as the virtual 100-mile Acadia Centennial Trek, through, which allows participants to see their avatar move on a map of the virtual route with the logging of daily miles, as well as the chance to cheer, or gently razz, fellow racers.

Between those 2 virtual races last year, about 400 racers from around the globe covered 30,000 miles, to help raise funds for Acadia, and have the chance to earn a special Acadia Centennial Medallion to mark the accomplishment.

Virtual race 2017 participants have different stories to tell

cadillacJessica Jourdain (@JessicaJ) – While Jourdain moved away from Millinocket with her Mom when she was 4, she’d always gone back at least twice a year to visit her Dad, during summer and winter school vacations. Now, on her at least twice-a-year visits, “I bring along my husband and 2 sons who all love Millinocket!” She and her family just got back from one of their Millinocket trips, and for the first time ever, they visited Acadia and the top of Cadillac Mountain (see photo she provided of them smiling, despite the fog on Cadillac). She ran the Millinocket Half Marathon with her husband Justin last year in subzero temperature, and for the real-life race this year, she e-mailed, “we’re hoping for a bit warmer weather.”

virtual race 2017Judy Lackey (@Judylackey) – Lackey picked up running last year at age 55 as part of her weight loss program, and completed her first race at the 2017 HSS Greenwich Cup Half Marathon (see photo she provided of that race). “Once I started running, I loved the freedom I felt and just love it. I am FAR from a fast runner, but slow and steady wins the race and for me the race is to be healthier. Because I live in CT, getting to Maine on weekends to run is not the easiest. I have run Castine 10K and Portland B2B. I plan to retire in Maine so want to start running more towns there.” Lackey, a member of Crow Athletics, is signed up not only for the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race 2017, but also a real-life race the end of October and the Millinocket Half Marathon. “I LOVE Maine, the state is so beautiful,” e-mailed Lackey, who’s been to Acadia while visiting her sister in Maine, and enjoyed running the hilly countryside during the Castine Baron’s 10K race, and the excitement of the hundreds of spectators cheering her and other racers on during the Portland Beach to Beacon 10K.

virtual race 2017Maureen Fournier (@RangerMo) – First exposed to virtual races during last year’s 100-mile Acadia Centennial Trek that we sponsored, Fournier plans to log some of her 200 miles of the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race 2017 in Acadia, Baxter State Park and Ireland, during her and her husband Gerry’s hiking adventures. She’s climbed Katahdin twice, most recently last year up the newly reopened Abol Trail (see photo she provided of the hike with Gerry) and plans to log some of the virtual race miles later this summer up Sentinel Mountain in Baxter State Park. “I kind of miss logging my miles,” Fournier said in an interview, in describing the gaps between virtual races and missing out on seeing her hiking boot avatar move along the virtual route with each day’s mileage. “It becomes a little bit of an obsession.”

acadia national park hiking

James Linnane (@mdijim), Shelley Dawson (@HikingWithPups), Maureen Fournier (@RangerMo), Acadia on My Mind (@AOMM) and Kristy Sharp (@TrailWitch) on the sand bar to Bar Island as part of last year’s virtual Acadia Centennial Trek. (Photo courtesy of Kristy Sharp)

Jim Linnane (@mdijim) – A Friends of Acadia volunteer crew leader and Waldron’s Warrior who helps maintain the Bates cairns of Acadia, Linnane plans to log most of his 200 miles on Mount Desert Island, but he also hopes to visit Baxter State Park, Isle au Haut and Schoodic as part of the epic journey. “We’ll see,” e-mailed Linnane, who also participated in the Acadia Centennial Trek. “Having that goal will get me out and moving.” Aside from his volunteerism for Acadia, Linnane is also a member of the Friends of Baxter State Park and just joined the newly formed Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. He finds the connection between the two regions and their people to be real and steeped in history, and likes the idea of the virtual race to add another level to that connection. “Obviously Acadia and KWW are quite different physically: ocean/inland, mountains/fairly flat, small brooks dry in summer/big rapids, easy access/difficult access, many activities/few activities,” Linnane e-mailed. “But they have a similar history so far. Acadia comprises lands donated to the federal government by private landowners for purposes of protection. Katahdin Woods and Waters shares that foundation.”

Other participants in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run hail from as far away as Oregon (@bgizzi), Alabama (@IheartMaine), Washington state (@Angelion) and New Jersey (@abby11 and @robert11). Some are hiking it for health (@grin, who’s recovering from cancer treatment), and others as part of their participation in one of the real-life races (@Nikkibunns, who’s running the 2017 MDI Marathon).

Some participated in last year’s Acadia Centennial Trek or virtual edition of the MDI Marathon & Half, all of which helped mark the 100th anniversary of the park, such as @Christa; @Fossil; @Katahdia; and @HikingWithPups.

We’re glad to see familiar faces, and welcome new participants to the virtual race 2017, as we create a fun experience and virtual community, for those who are already fans of the Acadia and Millinocket regions, or those who have yet to set foot on Cadillac or Katahdin.

Over the course of this race, we’ll profile other participants as we go along and feature blog posts about different aspects of these two different and very special regions of Maine, stretching from sea to summit, pink granite coastline of Mount Desert Island to deep North Woods.

Come and join us on this virtual journey, as we deepen the connections, real and virtual, between people and place.

If you’ve never done a virtual race, here are easy steps to join:

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

  1. Sign up with your name and e-mail at this registration page
  2. The race starts on Aug. 15 and ends Dec. 9
  3. You can track your daily miles any way you like, and can backdate them to Aug. 15
  4. Log your miles on the race page
  5. Racery will keep track of fun stats like your total mileage and miles per week