MILLINOCKET – The Millinocket Marathon continues to grow, attracting runners from all over the region. The influx of people gives the town a much-needed boost during the slow season.
On Saturday, more than 2,000 runners will take their mark, and get set for the fourth Millinocket Marathon.
“It has grown from 50 people to over 2,400 people in three years time, which is absolutely amazing,” said Millinocket resident and Marathon Volunteer Sandra Willard.
The race began as a way to help rebuild the regional economy after the closure of the Great Northern Paper Company. Community members and business owners opened their doors and embraced the now-annual tradition.
“Everybody’s happy it’s here,” said Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce President Jame Brundrett. “Everybody pitches in any way they can to make it what they can and certainly look to reap some of the benefits of that economic impact.”
December can be a slow month for businesses in the Katahdin region. The marathon is a big help for those places that make a majority of their money through tourism.
“Until the snow mobilers start coming we need some business here, so the marathon helps us a lot,” said Katahdin Inn & Suites Owner Sunny Kansara. “More and more people want to come but we don’t even have enough hotel rooms in town.”
With cold temperatures expected, runners will do their best to keep warm on Saturday.
“I think the weather’s calling to be another fairly cold, cold weekend and I think that’s part of the allure,” said Brundrett.
It also attracts people because it’s free to runners and acts as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
“I think that’s a part of the draw, as well as the quaint community and everything else that goes along with it,” said Brundrett.
The full marathon begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the half marathon beginning shortly after.