This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Maine was my 31st state.
If you take a poll and ask Americans what US states they would most like to visit, chances are pretty good they’ll say Maine as one of them. Everyone talks about how beautiful Maine is and I was anxious to see for myself. It did not disappoint. My family and I spent some time in Portland, where the race was, and also Rockport and Bar Harbor. All three places have something unique to offer.
We flew into Boston Logan International Airport and drove just under 2 hours to Portland where we ate at some fantastic restaurants and relaxed for a couple of days before the race. For some fun things to do in Portland, check out the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Observatory, Old Port with cobble-stone streets and restaurants and shops, Fore Street, Shipyard Brewing Company, many tours including cultural, pub, wine, city, and historical tours just to name a few.
The downside to running a half marathon in Maine is chances are pretty good it’s going to be a hilly course. The 2014 Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon certainly was hilly. Unfortunately it was also very hot that morning so combined with the hills it made for a difficult race. In fact, it was one of the toughest races I had ever run because of the near-constant hills and heat. It was in the low 70’s with high humidity and sunny at race start with no shade along the course.
As you might guess from the name, the course was through the Old Port district. There were also nice views of the Casco Bay, the Presumpscot River, the Portland skyline, and the Back Cove. It was crowded on the course, though, and things didn’t thin out for quite a few miles. Although there were some oceanfront parts of the course, I felt like it was mostly hill after long hill. The start and finish were at Portland’s Ocean Gateway Terminal, which I thought was a pretty good location that provided easy access and plenty of parking.
At the finish there was plenty of post-race food like pizza to go along with the beer. Bands were playing and although there was a fun party-like atmosphere going on, I was just too tired from the heat and hills. My finish time was 2:08:37.
I got quite a bit for my money at this race. Included in my registration fee were: health and fitness expo, cute medal, technical shirt in women’s or men’s sizes, free high resolution race photos, race video, live tracking, and post-race food including 2 beers from Shipyard Brewing Company. There was also an opportunity to buy a commemorative glass mug (which I couldn’t resist) and a race hat with the logo on it for $15.
Would I recommend this race? Probably as long as you go into it knowing it will be a tough one and alter your expectations a bit. The course is beautiful so that at least makes the hills worth it.
I highly recommend checking out some other areas if you go to Portland. After the race, we decided to stay 2 nights in Rockport, which is about an hour and a half drive from Portland, and 3 nights in Bar Harbor, which is about a 2 hour drive from Rockport. At both places, we rented cottages and they were far and away better than staying at a hotel for about the same price. There are also many Bed & Breakfasts scattered around the area. Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park are in Bar Harbor and these are two places you can’t miss if you go to Maine. These areas have some incredible hiking trails and views like nowhere else in the world.