5 Reasons Maine is Perfect For Runners

fri5In the summer I just can’t get travel out of my mind, and after Sage’s recent post about great places to run in the West, I figured the East could use a little love too!  So this weekend I’m headed as far east as I can go in the continental US – Maine!

When you take off on the road it’s great to run new trails and check out the local routes, but personally I like to plan around a race.  That way I not only get to take in the sights, I also get to feel competitive and accomplished.  This time, my “racecation” is planned around The Beach to Beacon 10K, where I’ll be racing toward the iconic Portland Head Light!

So with Maine on my mind, I decided to bring you this week’s Friday 5, all about why Maine is an excellent destination for your next runcation!

Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park

1. Terrific races! Beach to Beacon is a great race for tourists but Maine has many other great races too, such as the Mount Desert Island MarathonAcadia Half Marathon, not to mention several other smaller charming local races. If you’re interested in participating in one of these races, be sure to check when registration is open. Beach to Beacon is famous, not only for the beautiful course, but for being one of the fastest races to sell out. This past year it sold out in 4 minutes and 15 seconds (15 seconds faster than in 2014!). It’s not just about having fast feet, but fast fingers too.

2. Acadia National ParkThis national park has it all – ocean views, mountain vistas, forests, lakes, and much, much more! It’s one of the most beautiful and picturesque national parks in the United States. Miles and miles of trails make this a wonderful place for hiking and trail running.  Runner Scott Douglas described it as “running through a painting.” How can you not check this out?

3. Lobstah! I know it’s not runner-specific, but I can’t mention Maine without mentioning seafood – sorry, herbivores! But if nothing else, running makes me hungry, and my mouth waters as soon as I think of the hefty lobster rolls at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset. Each of their rolls has one pound of unadulterated, sweet, succulent, fresh lobster. I’m also a big fan of the clam chowder at Jordan House in Acadia National Park. The broth for the clam chowder is light yet creamy, and the entire soup is very hearty. I can’t get enough of it.

Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, ME (image from Wikimedia Commons)
Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, ME (image from Wikimedia Commons)

4. Portland, ME It’s the largest city in Maine, but it has a small town charm to it. There are attractions of interest to just about anyone.  As for us runners, lace up your shoes and bliss out on some laps around Back Cove Trail, a 3.5 mile loop trail that offers you a view of the Portland skyline. Or if you don’t mind a short drive south to Cape Elizabeth, Crescent Beach State Park has a gorgeous oceanfront 2.2-mile trail that’s perfect for an out-and-back.<

5. Lighthouses There’s something about a lighthouse that I cannot resist, which is probably the main reason why I wanted to run Beach to Beacon. The Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine, which has over 60 lighthouses. Many of them are still active and you can visit them (list here). Make a game of running to as many lighthouses as possible!

Have you been running in Maine? What are your recommendations?  Where is your next racecation?

I'm an academic, a runner, and a New York cliché. I write about the science of exercise, training, and the culture of running. My current goals are a sub-23:00 5K (achieved on 4/22/17 with 22:48) and a sub-1:45 HM (achieved on 10/1/17). Now what?

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  1. I highly recommend Cameron’s lobster house in Brunswick ME. Great crack n eat fresh lobster with corn on the cob in a former A&W facility with a lovely shady porch. Perfect place for sitting long and talking much after a good run.

  2. My running addiction actually began when I lived in Maine and I couldn’t agree more with these reasons! I loved my time living (and running!) in Maine!

  3. I love running in Maine. I’ve run in both Acadia National Park and in Portland/Cape Elizabeth. That back bay trail is great because there is water and it is nice and flat. Cape Elizabeth can be very hilly so I appreciated that. 🙂 I suggest post-run hitting up Red’s Ice cream in Cape Elizabeth. It is our favorite!

  4. I love Maine. I ran MDI marathon a few years ago, and on the way up to Bar Harbor ran the Beach to Beacon course (basically) with a visit to the lighthouse. I would love to go back for the Shipyard Old Port Half, the Maine Coast Marathon and/or Half, or back to Bar Harbor for the MDI half! Or just a tour of lobster roll shacks. I’ve been to Red’s several times, but I know there’s lots of lobster rolls unsampled!

    1. Oops, sorry, the ice cream comment was meant for someone else.

      Maine has so many great races and lobster shacks. At the expo they had a magazine of Maine races, so we’re flipping through the pages and talking about which ones we’d like to do. There’s even a race with a post-race lobster bake.

  5. I live and run in Maine and I think all of your ideas are great! We are so excited to be volunteering this year at tomorrow’s Beach to Beacon which truly is a phenomenal event! York, Maine has a series of races throughout the year that we have run and love! Acadia is absolutely the best place!!

    We are doing a runcation in the OBX when we head there in a week which will help us check off NC in our quest to run a race in every state. I think runcations are an excellent way to enjoy running and see new places!

    1. Which volunteer work were you doing? Maine is so incredible. We’re absolutely loving our time here. I want to come back and do more races.

      Running is an excellent way to vacation because you get to see things that you wouldn’t see otherwise. I found many great small gems this way.

  6. Melting in the sauna that is Tennessee humidity right now, this all sounds delightful! It’s a good reminder to think outside the PNW for runcations. Thanks!

    1. Oh, man, sympathies on the humidity! I can’t humidity and I know I don’t get anything near what you do. Another state where my husband and I would love to go for another runcation is Colorado.

  7. The Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park are my very favorite place to run! This month will be our 9th yearly return to Bar Harbor for our summer getaway, and I can guarantee my reaction while running in Acadia will be the same as it has been previously: complete disbelief that *I* get to run somewhere so completely amazing. I could run loops around Eagle Lake all day, if it weren’t for needing to get to 2Cats for breakfast before they close! 😀 Even though August is prime season in Bar Harbor/Acadia, it’s never felt “too crowded” to me.