A century ago, in two very different parts of Maine – the Acadia National Park of today and the once-booming mill town of Millinocket – these distinctly special events occurred:
- Acadia became the first eastern national park, and its “undistinguished” mountains got renamed as part of the effort, with Green now known as Cadillac and Newport as Champlain, among others
- Millinocket established a library in memory of the native sons who lost their lives during World War I “for the rescue of human rights”
To mark the 100th anniversary of Acadia’s creation as a national park and the naming of iconic Acadia peaks, as well as to celebrate the Millinocket Memorial Library Centennial, a new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race begins Aug. 2, to help raise funds for the two regions, and connect fans of these special parts of Maine, no matter where in the world they may live.
Sign up now and you can earn up to 4 different lobster and moose-themed medals for logging your running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world. Watch your avatar move on the virtual race map, along the 26 peaks of Acadia and the real-life Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon routes, and end atop Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain.
New this year, the virtual race route features 8 specially themed segments, and even if you can’t complete all 328.5 miles by Dec. 31, you will get digital milestone postcards emailed upon finishing each of the following segments:
- 26 Acadia peaks (55.2 miles)
- MDI Marathon & Half Marathon route (26.2 miles)
- Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon route, plus the first ascent of Katahdin (57.7 miles)
- Acadia’s Park Loop Road (25.3 miles)
- Schoodic National Scenic Byway (28.8 miles)
- Stephen King-themed segment, from Deer Brook Trail in Acadia to University of Maine, Orono, with special stops in Ellsworth and Bangor (62 miles)
- Acadia’s carriage road (37.3 miles)
- Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, plus final ascent of Katahdin (36 miles)
Also new this year: Customized pindrops embedded in the virtual race map with special images and messages, highlighting 26 Acadia peaks and Millinocket, Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters sites, and virtual racers’ past achievements – click on one of those red pindrops, and you might find yourself mentioned or pictured!
The pindrops also test your knowledge by asking “Where in Acadia?” and “Where in Millinocket?” and feature fun facts like at what time of year is Cadillac the first place to see the sun rise in the US – not the summer! – and how to avoid the lines by buying a park pass online. (Local businesses along or near the virtual race route can sponsor a customized pindrop with a photo and link to their website by contacting us.)
The virtual race runs from Aug. 2 through Dec. 31, and includes the entire real-life route of MDI Marathon & Half that’s happening Oct. 20, and the Millinocket Marathon & Half that’s happening Dec. 7. You can backdate running, hiking or walking miles to Aug. 2, if you happen to join after the start. And you don’t have to complete all 328.5 miles of the virtual race route to earn a medal.
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.
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, and was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame in 2018.
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 152 days, from Aug. 2 through Dec. 31, to run, hike or walk 328.5 miles – or just over 2 miles a day – anywhere in the world. At least 5% of the gross registration fees go to benefit the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. Fees range from $15 to $68 depending upon digital-only or medal options selected, with a $5 discount for participants who are signed up for one of the real-life MDI or Millinocket races.
Medal options include the 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Finisher Medallion with a raised lobster and moose, made by Ashworth Awards, the same company that makes the MDI and Boston Marathon medals; and a classic medal featuring raised profiles of Katahdin and the Bubbles on your choice of a lobster ribbon, multiple moose ribbon or neon moose ribbon – or you can add to your collection and get all 3 versions as each is only $10!
All participants, whether they opt for a medal or not, get a digital bib and finisher’s certificate; emailed milestone postcards with the completion of each of the 8 race segments; automatic entry into giveaways; 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, as well as customized pindrops embedded in the race map.
Medals will be mailed as participants finish, beginning in mid-October, domestic postage included, with an extra charge for international shipping. And winners of giveaways will start receiving their gifts after Dec. 7, after race registration ends, 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 of Acadia’s founding as Sieur de Monts National Monument, and help raise funds for the park.
We continued that fund-raising partnership with the 2017-2018 Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, and the 2018 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race. These last two virtual races raised $1,175 for charity, and nearly 200 racers of all ages from around the world have joined, from as young as 10 to 70-plus, from as far away as Scotland and Australia, cumulatively logging a total of more than 107,000 miles since August 2017.
Hike 26 Acadia peaks in real life or virtually, aid the park
As another way to mark the 100th anniversary of Acadia’s establishment in 1919 as Lafayette National Park, and the renaming of “undistinguished” mountains to the memorable ones we know today, from Green to Cadillac, Newport to Champlain and Robinson to Acadia, we are also developing an unofficial real-life hiking challenge, with the option to become a card-carrying club member to help support the Friends of Acadia, which does so much to aid the park.
As we announced in the Friends of Acadia Journal this year as business members, we will be revealing details of the hiking challenge at www.acadiaonmymind.com/peaks.
The major Acadia centennial may have been celebrated in 2016, upon the park’s initial founding as Sieur de Monts National Monument. But there can never be too many 100th anniversary celebrations for a park so beloved, and for peaks that so capture the imagination, across the years and in all seasons.
Just as we marked the first 100th anniversary celebration with a fundraiser for the Friends of Acadia tied to a virtual race over the peaks of Acadia, we thought it would be fun to celebrate this 100th with both a real life and virtual hiking challenge.
While we develop the real-life challenge, you can virtually hike the 26 Acadia peaks in the 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, with the first segment starting on the map near the lowest of the 26 peaks, and ending at the top of the highest.
Along the way, you’ll pass pindrops of all the peaks, where you may be asked “Where in Acadia?” based on a photo or clue, or you can even submit in your Racery log a picture of the one peak pindrop that doesn’t include a photo, for addition to the virtual race map.
Upon virtually hiking those 26 Acadia peaks, you’ll be emailed a digital postcard that marks your achieving the milestone, along with a complete list and elevation of the mountains you “climbed.” The list of 26 peaks in the virtual race is slightly modified from the one in the park’s information guide, to replace the 2 with no official trails up them, with 2 that do.
And if you opted for one of the classic medals including a raised profile of the Bubbles, you will have a special keepsake of your virtual peakbagging accomplishment.
Virtual racers help meet $1.25M Millinocket library goal
With the help of Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Racers and other generous donors, the Millinocket Memorial Library met its $1.25M centennial renovation fundraising goal. Construction began this spring and the library has moved to temporary headquarters at 57 Penobscot Avenue, the site of the former Pelletier Loggers Family Restaurant Bar and Grill.
The building, provided to the library for free by the Pelletiers, who were featured in the reality TV show “American Loggers,” remains for sale.
The library was on the brink of closing forever in 2015, with the old mill city’s financial troubles. But a campaign to raise $30,000, including $10,000 from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, helped keep the library doors open, as a starting step. And the last few years, runners in the Millinocket Marathon & Half and the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race have helped raise funds for the library.
We’ve raised enough funds that an “Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Racers” will be included on a wall of donors in the new library. But as we all know, having funds for a new building aren’t all that’s needed. There’s the cost of utilities, maintenance, salaries, books, technology and all the things that make the Millinocket Memorial Library such an important part of the community.
For that reason, the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race continues to help support the library, as well as a fellow Millinocket-based nonprofit, Our Katahdin
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 Aug. 2 and ends Dec. 31
- You can track your daily miles any way you like, and can backdate them to Aug. 2
- Log your miles on the race page
- Racery will keep track of fun stats like your total mileage and miles per week
Thanks to Racery’s virtual race platform, which has powered our virtual challenges since 2016. In addition to virtual races for charity fundraising like ours, Racery hosts many company virtual fitness challenges. Race hosts can use Racery for a virtual swim in the English Channel, a virtual walk on the Moon, or an Everest virtual stair challenge.