When Millinocket Memorial Library was on the brink of being closed forever in 2015, with the old mill city’s financial troubles, Margie King and others stepped up to raise $30,000 and volunteer to keep the doors open.
Now, King’s still stepping up – literally and virtually – to benefit her beloved community institution. In between volunteer shifts at the library, helping to shelve books and staff the front desk, she’s walking around Millinocket to log miles in the first-ever Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, to help raise funds for the library and 2 other nonprofits, Our Katahdin and Friends of Acadia.
“I became interested in the race when I heard about the charitable giving aspect and it sounded like fun to follow my progress on a map, from one beautiful place to another. The medal is pretty cool too,” said King, in an email.
More than 100 participants have signed up for the virtual national park race so far, including:
- King’s daughter, Tracy King Daniell of Orono
- Holly Todd, a beekeeper, massage therapist and Maine Guide in Millinocket
- Rebeccah Geib, a long-distance runner from Bar Harbor and member of Crow Athletics, who was the first to finish the 200-mile virtual route, in 15 days
- Maine Running Hall of Famer Robin Emery, who has a trophy named after her, awarded to the top female finisher in the Bangor Labor Day 5-mile race
- Acadia National Park Ranger Maureen Fournier
- Tim Henderson of Castine, one of the Acadia National Park volunteers known as Waldron’s Warrior, helping to maintain the Bates cairns
- Jim Linnane of Bar Harbor, who’s been logging some of his miles for the race while volunteering on Acadia’s trails for the Friends of Acadia
We’ve also invited Chris Popper of WDEA AM 1370 to join, and hope to develop a Dream Team of celebrity virtual racers with Popper as the first to be drafted.
What’s a virtual national park 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, 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, 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.
Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and organizers of the real-life Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run continues until Dec. 9, and participants can register at any time and backdate daily miles to Aug. 15, the start of the race. It 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.
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.
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 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 national park race spur people to learn more about both regions, whether they’ve ever set foot in Vacationland or not.
And may our blogging, and the virtual national park race, help deepen the connections between the Acadia and Katahdin regions, the people and the place.
Stories behind some of participants in virtual national park race
Margie King and Tracy King Daniell – For mother and daughter, the Millinocket Memorial Library has played a central role in their lives, and being able to give back through the virtual national park race and in other ways seemed a good thing to do.
“I began volunteering because the library has been important to me since I began to love reading as a child,” said King in an email. “Since volunteering, I have seen how important the library is to Millinocket and the surrounding region. People use the library not only for books, magazines and movies, but for the other services offered. There is no other public place in town where one can use a free computer and get help and even free lessons. There are few places in town to send a fax, make copies or print from your email…. Tourists, summer residents, seasonal workers and hikers are frequent visitors to our library.”
The library is also where Our Katahdin holds office hours, according to King, as that fellow Millinocket nonprofit currently doesn’t have office space. Our Katahdin, another of the nonprofits benefiting from the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, is a volunteer-driven organization aimed at promoting community and economic development in the Katahdin region.
Daniell has fond childhood memories of the library. “I loved the summer book reading…and liked watching the movies they played,” she said in an email. But while she relished that and other memories of growing up in Millinocket, she left after high school graduation for better job prospects.
Mother and daughter independently found out about the virtual national park race, but soon discovered they were both registered. Not only are they joining forces in helping to raise funds for the library, they’re also now united in cheering each other on to get their exercise in, whether by walking around Millinocket as has been the case for most of King’s virtual national park race miles, or by getting on the treadmill as has been the case for most of Daniell’s miles.
There’s also a little friendly competition too. Said Daniell, who goes by the virtual race name of @TD17, of her Mom, who goes by the name of @mak321: “While she’s way ahead of me, I’m still going to try to catch her!”
Holly Todd – Signed up for both the MDI Half Marathon and the Millinocket Marathon, Todd is going for the real-life Sea to Summit as well as the virtual Cadillac to Katahdin challenge.
Going by the Cadillac to Katahdin race name of @Honeybee (since she’s a Millinocket beekeeper), Todd has logged her virtual race miles by running Golden Road, Millinocket Lake Road and elsewhere around town, after work as a massage therapist or to check on her beehives.
She even already climbed Katahdin in real-life last month, with her friends Neil Leblanc and John Firth, adding 12 miles to her virtual challenge. And she plans to hike 100 miles of the Long Trail in Vermont at the end of the month, which can also count toward her Cadillac to Katahdin virtual national park race – assuming she hasn’t completed the 200 virtual miles by then!
Independent of her running the real-life and virtual races to boost the local economies, Todd helps benefit the Millinocket region in other ways, as owner of the Katahdin Oasis Day Spa, a Maine Guide at the New England Outdoor Center, and a beekeeper who uses the honey to make soap and wax to make chapsticks.
While she’s not a member of any of the 3 nonprofits directly benefiting from the national park virtual race, Todd belongs to the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, a nonprofit to support the new national monument.
Rebeccah Geib – A member of Crow Athletics, Geib beat the virtual competition handily, completing the 200-mile route in 15 days. She’s in training for both real-life MDI and Millinocket races, and is signed up with a friend to run the Stone Cat 50 Mile Race in Ipswich, Mass., in November.
“This year will be my 4th time running MDI and my 2nd time running Millinocket,” said Geib, who goes by @DreadedRunner, in an email. “I have logged over 1,400 miles on the roads and trails of MDI since January 1st this year (my goal is to have 2,017 by December 31st).”
For years, Geib has been trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but when her best marathon time was just 1 minute shy of qualifying, she was getting discouraged. “Running Boston was always so important to me, until it started to take the joy out of running.”
Then two friends got her interested in running even longer distances than a marathon, or ultramarathons, and on trails, and she got hooked. “The thought of Boston went to the back burner,” Geib said. “It is now about covering as much terrain in Acadia as we possibly can.”
While she hasn’t climbed Katahdin in real life yet, she said she hopes to do some trail running in Baxter State Park this fall.
And while she’s not a member of any of the nonprofits benefiting from the virtual national park race, Geib said she tries to donate what she can. “Last year at Millinocket I donated to both Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library, and also made sure to do my Christmas shopping at local businesses and the great craft fair that was held race weekend last year.”
For many of his miles in the virtual national park race, Linnane, who goes by @mdijim, has been walking the carriage roads for various Friends of Acadia projects. Over the weekend, for example, he photographed carriage road signs around Aunt Betty Pond and Eagle Lake as part of inventorying the conditions of the signs, which need to be replaced from time to time. He logged 8.5 miles for the day on the Cadillac to Katahdin route, putting him in Ellsworth on the virtual map.
Last week, Linnane cleared brush and weeds along the Great Meadow Loop, a village connector trail between Bar Harbor and the park; and also cleaned up trails around St. Sauveur Mountain.
But he also logs miles for the pure pleasure, including 12.5 miles on Aug. 28 with a group of 10, including Acadia ranger Maureen Fournier (@RangerMo) for some of the miles, going over Gorham, Champlain, Dorr and Cadillac “in fine weather,” according to his virtual trip report.
We did 0.01 virtual mile with Linnane on the streets of Bar Harbor over Labor Day weekend, and he shared that while the charitable aspect of the virtual race is nice, the main attraction for him is it helps fight off the couch potato instincts. “It’s a good way to get out of the house. It’s a good excuse,” he told us as we enjoyed the real-life sunshine together amidst the crowds from the cruise ship.
As the stories of Margie King, Tracy King Daniell, Holly Todd, Rebeccah Geib, Jim Linnane and others show, there are so many different reasons to participate in the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual national park race.
- A couple of participants, going by @Grin and @HikeEatNap, are on the journey as part of their recovery from cancer treatment
- Robin Emery, who goes by @Fossil, likes logging her real-life races and training miles in the virtual challenge, as she gets ready for the real-life MDI Half Marathon in October
- Tim Henderson, who goes by @Ghost, logs his miles whether he’s helping to maintain Bates cairns as a Waldron’s Warrior or on a trail run
- Acadia National Park Ranger Maureen Fournier, @RangerMo, enters her miles whether they’re part of her job roving the park trails, or during family climbs up Mount Washington in the White Mountain National Forest or Sentinel Mountain in Baxter State Park
Won’t you join us on this Cadillac to Katahdin virtual national park race, no matter where in the world you are, and whatever your real-life reason may be?
It’s easy to join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run
- Sign up with your name and e-mail at this registration page
- The race starts on Aug. 15 and ends Dec. 9
- You can track your daily miles any way you like, and can backdate them to Aug. 15
- Log your miles on the race page
- Racery will keep track of fun stats like your total mileage and miles per week