BAR HARBOR—Mike Brooks’ hat brim
shrouded his eyes against the sun as he sat limply in a lawn chair
cradling a beer just past noon on Sunday. At first glance, he
looked like a retiree basking in his leisure time on a warm
Gary Allen of Cranberry Isles
grabs some much-needed rest at last weekend’s 24-hour relay at
the MDI High School track. Allen broke a 47-year-old American
track record for men ages 45-49, running 20 miles in 2:08:41,
slicing 33 seconds off the old record set by Ted Corbitt in
Great Britain in 1966.
staff photo by
and time are separated by hundreds of miles in Brooks’ world. The
58-year-old Danville resident, a veteran of 80 marathons and
nearly 20 ultra-marathons (100 miles), had spent the previous 24
hours treating his body with the same respect a jackhammer shows
to concrete, circling the track at Mount Desert Island
High School more than 400 times. He totaled 104 miles, 443.5 meters without stopping
longer than a couple of minutes at time. It was a feat so
impressive that it not only overshadowed news that a 47-year-old
American track record had been shattered, but completely flummoxed
the new record-holder.
of giving up running,” joked Gary Allen of Cranberry Isles, who
set the new record.
provided just one of a number of eye-popping statistics that arose
from last weekend’s 24-hour Relay and Run held by Crow Athletics
at the Mount Desert Island High School track. The relay, which was
held for the first time last year as Jeff’s Run to benefit cancer
victim Jeff Weisbruch, was originally intended to benefit Jennifer
Westphal who asked the more than $1,500 raised so far by the event
be donated to Brennen’s Buddies, a local charity that helps
seriously ill island area children and their families.
In the relay
portion, a baton was passed from runner to runner as participants
of all ages circled the track the full 24 hours, covering 521.75
here to New York,” Allen pointed out.
such as Bar Harbor elite runners Evan Graves and Judson Cake, who ran 15 miles early on
Saturday and later paced Allen on his record-setting run, ran
15-20 miles without a thought. Bar Harbor’s Peter Palmer, for
instance, when asked how far he was going to run, said he would
20, as in miles, like most people talk about getting off the couch
and going for a soda and chips.
Graves ran 17
miles early in the day on Saturday, then later in the evening ran
a half-marathon time that nearly equaled the winning performance
in last year’s Bar Harbor half-marathon.
Still, in an
event that had more sub-plots that a soap opera, the impressive
relay was little more than a footnote.
to Brooks’ mind-shattering performance, Allen, who organized the
relay, took the opportunity to break the United States Track and
Field American masters long distance track running record for men
ages 45-49. Allen, 46, completed 20 miles in 2:08:41, beating the
previous record of 2:09:14, set by Ted Corbitt in Great Britain in
1966, by 33 seconds.
think I realized the scope,” Allen said. “It’s an amazing record.
No one has done that. It’s kind of awesome to realize I ran that
far that fast.”
record-setter even drew admiration from Joan Benoit Samuelson, the
1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist from Freeport.
the new record holder and a lifelong running enthusiast and
participant, joined the ranks of athletes who could only marvel at
Brooks’ 100-plus mile performance and good-naturedly questioned
ran a marathon—just over one-quarter of the total distance he
would eventually cover—in 4:53:31, had already run more than 27
miles after less than six hours of circling the track. And despite
pounding liquids like a long-liner on leave, had already lost five
pounds after battling stomach problems in the early going.
running eight years ago after a friend encouraged him to take part
in a 5K, Brooks said as was working on his 30th mile.
enjoyed it and I’ve been kind of hooked on it since,” Brooks said.
competing in a few marathons, Brooks decided to test himself
further by entering a 100-mile ultra marathon.
“I liked that
even better,” Brooks said. “The longer the race the better I do.”
trains for ultra marathons by running 10-12 hour stretches, has
competed in 80 marathons, one in every state, and 18 ultra
marathons, including the Vermont 100, a trail race that rises and
falls 16,000 feet over the course of the 100 miles. The toughest
part of running in an ultra, Brooks said, is the toll it takes on
you’ve just got to hang in there,” Brooks said. “This is an easy
course because you get to walk. In a marathon, you can’t walk.”
forced to travel far afield to compete in most of his ultra
events. The relatively proximity of the 24-hour relay was one of
the factors that attracted him to the event.
also ran in last year’s first-ever Mount Desert Island Marathon, a
race Allen founded and organized.
“Gary put on
a hell of a marathon,” Brooks said. “I figured if he’s involved
it’s going to be a good race.”
who has spent the last four months traveling across the country
from Washington with his wife and two children in a 30-foot motor
home, was here to see Acadia National Park when he
heard about the relay and decided to run a marathon. Shiach has
already run 27 marathons in 12 different states. On his trip east,
Shiach, who is writing a series for Northwest Runner, had run the
Tri-State Marathon, which crosses Utah, Arizona and Nevada, and
the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. He intends to run three
more marathons before his trip ends in September.
completed his marathon on Saturday in
the Bagel Factory of Bar Harbor, Knowles Co. Real Estate of
Northeast Harbor and Coca-Cola of Bangor donated food and supplies
for the relay. Janice Strout, Jennifer Westphal’s twin sister,
baked two cakes for the runners.
would like to make a donation to the event are encouraged to make
checks payable to Brennen’s Buddies and mail them to MDI Marathon,
c/o Brennen’s Buddies, Box 1032, Northeast Harbor, Maine