On your marks! A new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race is open now, to help raise funds for charity, connect fans of Acadia National Park hiking, Millinocket and Stephen King, and jumpstart training for real-life runners, hikers and fitness walkers.
Participants can earn a medal or two for logging their running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world, and see their avatar move on the virtual race map from the top of Cadillac, along the real-life Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon routes, to the top of Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine. Register now.
New this year, the virtual race route includes:
- the 26 peaks of Acadia
- Schoodic, the mainland part of Acadia
- part of the Down East Sunrise Trail and East Coast Greenway
- Google Street Views of the offices of the 3 charities being supported by this race – Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library and Our Katahdin
- and at least 6 sites connected to the King of Horror, including a hiking trail in Acadia featured in the movie “Pet Sematary”
And to make it even more fun this year, aside from earning a virtual race medal or two, participants will be automatically entered in a giveaway of $25 gift certificates from:
- Gift MDI, an online seller of gift cards to Mount Desert Island businesses
- Moose Drop In, a Millinocket gift shop that specializes in custom T-shirts and handmade gifts
- SK-Tours of Maine, which offers private narrated tours of Stephen King sites and sells T-shirts
- or a copy of our Hiking Acadia National Park guide, which won both the National Outdoor Book Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award
And anyone who lands on the virtual race map and gets a Google Street View of Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library or Our Katahdin, or of one of the Stephen King sites embedded in the map, gets an extra entry in the giveaway.
The virtual race runs from July 20 through Dec. 8, and includes the entire real-life route of MDI Marathon & Half that’s happening Oct. 14, and the Millinocket Marathon & Half that’s happening Dec. 8. You can backdate running, hiking or walking miles to July 20, if you happen to join after the start. And you don’t have to complete all 338 miles of the virtual race route to earn your medal or enter the giveaway.
Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and organizers of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race is also the virtual edition of the 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.
Virtual race builds friendships, community and local economies
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 was called Magic City because it grew so fast in the paper mill heyday, 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.
Register now for the virtual race, and you have 142 days, from July 20 to Dec. 8, to run, hike or walk 338 miles, anywhere in the world. At least 5% of the registration fees ($33 for participants who are signed up for one of the real-life MDI or Millinocket races, and $38 for all others) go to benefit the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library.
The fee includes the Acadia 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 racery.com-powered virtual race, which displays Google Street View photos where available, of where you virtually are based on your day’s ending mileage.
There’s an option during registration to add a second medal, the collector’s edition of the Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion with buffalo-plaid ribbon for $10 (regular price, $25). Medals will be mailed as participants finish, beginning Oct. 14, domestic postage included, with an extra charge for international shipping. And winners of the giveaways will start receiving their gifts beginning Dec. 8, just in time for the holidays.
We first teamed up with MDI Marathon in 2016 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 continued that fund-raising partnership with the 2017-2018 Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, which is ending just as the new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race begins. More than 150 Cadillac to Katahdin participants collectively logged nearly 62,000 miles since Aug. 15, 2017, helping raise $800 for charity. Virtual racers in the Cadillac to Katahdin run have until 11:59 p.m. EST July 19 to enter any missing miles, before that race closes, and the new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race begins July 20.
Virtual race has real-life meaning for individuals, charity – plus bling!
In the couple of years that we’ve been hosting virtual races, we’ve seen people sign up as a special way to mark Acadia’s Centennial, as extra motivation to train for the real-life MDI Marathon & Half or Millinocket Marathon & Half, as another chance to hike Acadia’s trails, and as a way to recover from illness or achieve a health and fitness goal.
And for those who are into bagging Acadia’s 26 peaks or rewarding themselves for running or walking, the chance to earn what’s been described as Olympic-quality medals is yet another reason to sign up. This year’s 3-inch gold medal is in the shape of the state of Maine, featuring raised profiles of the Bubbles and Katahdin, strung on a red satin ribbon.
Participants from as far away as Scotland and Australia have joined in, and racers have ranged in age from 10 to 70 and over.
But perhaps one of the most moving stories is the one behind @jennsjourney.
Jennifer Popper joined the virtual race last year, as part of her training for a more than 800-mile trek along the East Coast Greenway, from New Jersey to Maine, to raise funds in memory of her husband Michael, who died in June 2016 in a kayaking accident off the coast of Maine.
We met her for the first time earlier this month in Boston, when she was already more than half-way through her walk to raise more than $15,000 for two charities that have meant a lot to her and her husband, East Coast Greenway Alliance and FreeWalkers.
Michael and a veteran kayak tour guide died two years ago when their kayaks capsized in 52-degree waters off Corea during a surprise front that caused high waves. Jennifer Popper’s kayak also tipped over but she survived after being found by a lobsterman who was among those searching for the kayakers.
Chris Popper, Michael’s cousin and a sports broadcaster for WDEA AM 1730 in Bangor, who first shared the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run with Jennifer, will be on hand to welcome her in Gouldsboro. He had met her at the hospital after the kayaking accident and provided support in other ways.
@jennsjourney has been cheered by fellow virtual racers who’ve commented on the Cadillac to Katahdin message board, although she may never have met them.
As she nears Gouldsboro, where she plans to finish on or around Aug. 1, there will be at least one fellow virtual racer there to meet her for the first time, @FL2ME, and perhaps others. Thank you, @FL2ME, for being there – take some photos to share!
And while we won’t be there in real-life this time, we will be following along via the new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, which includes the portion of the East Coast Greenway that extends from Ellsworth to Gouldsboro, along Route 1 and the Down East Sunrise Trail.
Hope to “see” all of you on the new virtual race route!
It’s easy to join the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race
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 Acadia to Katahdin 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.com, which hosts our races on its online platform.
- Sign up with your name and e-mail at this registration page
- The race starts on July 20 and ends Dec. 8
- You can track your daily miles any way you like, and can backdate them to July 20
- Log your miles on the race page
- Racery will keep track of fun stats like your total mileage and miles per week