In the movie "Field of Dreams," Kevin Costner’s character, Ray, was told by a mysterious voice in his cornfield that, if he built it, they would come. The what in that instance was a baseball field for the ghosts of long-gone diamond greats.

For Emily McDevitt, 55, of Camden, her build-it-and-they-will-come moment was the creation of a running community through the Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine, a group she founded.

Just how many would come, McDevitt did not know when she began to lay the foundation to create TRoMM in 2015.

Since organizing that first running group, called Monday Night Dirt, in June of 2015, the TRoMM Facebook group now boasts more than 700 members, and McDevitt’s name has become synonymous with trail running in the Midcoast.

McDevitt was born and raised in Presque Isle, where she first laced up her running shoes, and started a passion for the sport that has spanned decades.

She did not begin to run competitively, on a team, until high school. Before then, the only sports offered to females at her school were basketball, field hockey and softball.

“There was no such thing as cross country in middle school,” she said.

Future awaits

After she graduated from high school, McDevitt left Maine for nearly 30 years, before returning to the Pine Tree State to raise her children. The McDevitts settled in the Camden area, and sons Henry, 14, and Jonathan, 17, have found their way to running as well.

“They’re both runners. We’re a running family, funny enough,” McDevitt said.

McDevitt said she often is asked how she was able to get her sons to love running as much as she does. She admits she did not want them to, and running was her solo time when her sons were younger.

"I didn't want them to run. That was my escape," she said.

She said some are born with a love — a passion — for running.

With nine road marathons under her belt, McDevitt did not come to trail running until 2014.

“I’d run some trails, and some trail races prior, but I was definitely one of those road racers that was like, ‘Oh, that’s not really running,' ” she said of her initial thoughts on trail running.

McDevitt said she felt that way because the pace on the trail versus road running is much slower, a common mistaken thought many road runners made with trail runners.

In the summer of 2015, she began competing in trail races. She said that is when she really got into trail running and racing.

“2015, 2016, those two years were really good years. I got into it, I was successful. I had a little bit of a knack for it,” she said.

Throughout the years, McDevitt has competed in several of the trail race series in Maine, and has done others in New England.

She said she still competes now, just not as much as she had previously.

“Trail running, you have to have a little of that no fear,” she said.

As a trail runner, she said, you need to know how to read the lines of the trails, trees, and rocks. You also need to know, and see how you can “skim” the surface of the trails you’re on.

"I really got into it when I was younger," she said.

A challenge McDevitt faced in those earlier days of trail running was finding information about trails. There was little by way of resources, and unlike with road running, the trail running community was difficult to find.

Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine

In June of 2015, McDevitt started the process of creating not just a trail running group, but a community of trail runners in the Midcoast.

The flagship group Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine was called Monday Night Dirt, and by the spring of 2016, McDevitt took TRoMM from unofficial, to official.

“We had been running and gathering for not quite a year, and it grew really fast,” she said.

As the group grew, she found herself with numbers, and responsibilities that required insurance for the group runs.

“I didn’t do it in a vacuum, I talked with people about it,” McDevitt said.

For the group, she worked out an idea for a logo, which is the lynx. She then unveiled the logo to a group of 10 runners, she calls the founding members, in a meeting in her home.

From there, an Instagram account, Facebook group, and page, as well as a website, and other social media pages, were created to support the group, and other trail runners.

The group also holds a membership to the Road Runners Club of America.

“I love creating community. I love creating things that are fun, and exciting. I meant to do that with this club,” she said.

As the community has grown, Monday Night Dirt is just one of four groups runs.

TRoMM is not just about running trails, gear talk, and community support for runners' race jitters.

The group has raised $10,000 for a mile marker on the new Round The Round trail, a trail being constructed to circle the base of Ragged Mountain.

“We gather as a club, and go work together on different trails in the spring,” McDevitt said.

“It’s been really great. I’m really proud of what we have done as a group, both with financial contributions, and getting muscle out on the trails. Or just being good for one another,” she said.

Another TRoMM offering is a resource center for those new to trail running, those who visit the area looking for the places they can run, and more.

McDevitt said she has informational posts for Facebook to help new runners with best gear options, tips for running in different weather situations, and trail information that she will re-post regularly during the seasons to help.

“It’s like a forum of sharing,” she said.

This year, McDevitt said she is working on spreading it out a little. There are people within the group she sees want to step up and take more responsibility.

“I’m dropping balls because I can’t do it all anymore,” she said.

In the beginning, McDevitt handled everything. She said she did not ask for help, and did not want help.

“I’m aware, especially with five years of something going on, not everyone is going to be happy with how things are done,” she said.

There have been times when runners want to join the group runs, but those particular days may not work for them. McDevitt said she will ask that person if they would be willing to lead a group run on the day and time that works for them?

“That’s how the Friday morning run started. Jala Tooley took it on,” McDevitt said.

“It’s so fun to see their photos from the run. It’s totally self-sufficient, I’m not involved at all, other than adminning the page she posts on,” McDevitt said.

McDevitt said her most significant goal is to have TRoMM outlast her. She wants to know that, when she walks away, that it will still be there.

Trail Fest

Over the years, McDevitt said there had been stabs at trail races within the community. One example, she gave, was the Ragged Mountain Fat Tire Festival, which ran once.

“From what I’ve learned, the reason why these stopped is because the people who did it, put it together got tired of doing the work, or moved on, shifted gears,” she said.

Over the years, McDevitt said she had been asked why she did not put together a trail race in the area.

“I never wanted to race direct. It is a little out of my wheelhouse of things that I enjoy,” she said.

To be the director of a race, road or trail, takes a considerable amount of work from start to finish, and all things in between.

Baxter Outdoors puts on a series of trail runs throughout the state, and events director, Adam Platt, expressed, to McDevitt, an interest in holding a race in the Camden area.

“I said, that’s great, as long as I’m not the race director,” she said.

In the fall of 2016, Platt, and McDevitt, launched the first Camden Snow Bowl Trail Fest. McDevitt held the title of festival director, and Platt, race director.

The event, which includes a children’s run, 5-kilometer run, bike trek and a bike/run duathlon, proved to be a success in that first year.

It continued to see success and will celebrate its fifth running in October.

One key McDevitt wants for the Trail Fest is to create sustainability. She does not want it to see the same fate as similar area events that came before it.

“I want it to be so established, and loved, that others will volunteer, and step up to run it, or take it over,” she said.

This year’s event, McDevitt said she will need to find someone to lead the festival responsibilities in her place the day of the event.

The Festival of Champions high school cross-country race in Belfast falls on the same day as the Trail Fest, and she will be unable to take the lead.

“It’s my oldest’s senior year, I can’t miss it,” she said.

Land steward

“I’m on every land trust, every trail committee you can imagine,” McDevitt said.

She became involved at that level because there were so many people out there, doing so many different things, that there was a lack of collaboration, and communication.

McDevitt wanted to bridge that gap, if not close it completely.

“I will come into a meeting, and someone will be like, ‘Okay, why aren’t we, or why don’t we do this?’ And because I’m on the committees, I know that one may already be doing that,” she said.

The groups are coming to a point now, where information is being shared easier, and faster.

McDevitt has been on the Round the Round trail committee five years. Once completed, the trail will host events.

Holding trail events once was a thing of the past. Committees, and trusts, were focused on protecting the lands, and trails, by limiting access to any use.

She credits the mindset shift in land conservation. Conservationists once held that protecting lands meant not to use it. Now, however, they are understanding that the people that want to recreate on this land are the best stewards.

“They love it, so they’re going to take care of the trails. They’re not going to go out on a rainy day, and stomp around the woods, making muddy holes,” she said.

McDevitt said that because of that shift, more recreation on the trails has been allowed.

Which includes the largest trail event the area has seen to date, the Megunticook 50, and its counterpart, the "Wicked Tough" 10K.

The Megunticook 50, as it is called, is set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Camden Hills State Park. It will traverse 31 miles of park trails, and take runners over an elevation gain of more than 7,000 feet.

The event is being organized, and put on by David and Tammy Hirschfeld, owners of Point Lookout in Northport.

McDevitt knows to gain access of such magnitude to the Camden Hills State Park is a significant deal.

She credits the working relationship that David has had with park officials for over a decade, showing them he is a good land steward.

“David has been going out, working on the trails, and has proven he’s someone that really cares,” McDevitt said.

She added Hirschfeld built a level of respect with park officials.

McDevitt knows one has to have time, resources and passion to accomplish what the Hirschfelds are doing.

“I am so grateful that these two individuals have come in and said, you know what? we’re gonna put on an ultra run, we’re gonna do everything, and we’re gonna invite the community to come, and participate. They’re putting it all on the line,” McDevitt said.

“We’re lucky they’re choosing to do it right here, in our backyard,” she said.

The Hirschfelds reached out to McDevitt, and they met to talk about the two trail races at Camden Hills. McDevitt admits she went in with the thought they were going to ask her to be the race director for the event. She had not known the Hirschfelds already had put everything into place, and were just in need of volunteers for the day.

McDevitt’s photos are being used on the races website.

Understanding the Hirschfelds wanted the event to happen organically, McDevitt said she was quiet about the events, letting word of mouth from others who heard about it, carry through the community.

“I can’t wait to see who shows up on race day,” she said.

Training for the 50

It should be no surprise McDevitt was the first to sign up for the ultra run.

The longest trail racing distance McDevitt has done to date was a 20-mile leg of a 100-mile ultra called "Riverlands 100 and Relay." She has competed in the event twice.

The Megunticook 50 is her chance to tackle her goal of breaking into ultra trail running.

To train for the 31-mile trek, McDevitt said she is doing cross training.

Using her Peloton bicycle, she has noticed the benefits it has had in strengthening her legs going up hills on runs.

“The Megunticook 50 is insanely vertical,” she said.

McDevitt, who lives near the Camden Hills State Park, said she uses the park to train as her backyard. Going forward, she plans to take various parts of the course, and run them in order to familiarize herself with the course.

Currently, however, she focuses on building habits that keep her fit, and healthy. As she has gotten older, she said she has noticed the change in how her body reacts to how she fuels it with foods.

“I can’t just eat what I want, and ask my body to do something this extreme,” she said.

She has been using recipes from one of Shalene Flanagan’s cookbooks. Flanagan is an Olympic long-distance medalist, and famous marathoner.

“I’ve been enjoying it. Making new recipes, and discovering the next day, wow, my body feels better,” she said.

McDevitt said, in the past, she always had been able to do things unprepared. Now, she is finding that she cannot.

Last spring, she did a nine-mile race she went into unprepared.

“I was in so much pain. Those nine miles were an eye-opener,” she said.

It showed her she is no longer able to count on her body to show up for her.

She said she thinks more about her training, and nutrition, largely because it is something that has not been her pattern.

“I feel like I have a good amount of time until the race to get used to those things,” she said.

As she nears race day, she plans to talk to friends whom have done similar races. From them, she hopes to get advice on what to put in her pack, and what kind of nutrition to carry to aid her in the race.

“I definitely used to be that kind of runner that could go out, and do whatever I wanted. I’ve been really fortunate that way,” she said.

McDevitt said she used to be able to run 13-15 miles without needing to think of her nutrition, or hydration. She could do the 10-mile multi-use trail at Camden Hills, she would throw on a pair of shorts, and a tee-shirt, and just go.

“Not anymore,” she said.

The difference between ages 48 and 55, she has learned, is a wider gap than when someone is an athlete at 28 and 35.

However, it has not deterred, only pushed her to adapt to the changes.

“I’m really happy with where I am. I just want to finish this thing. The cutoff is 12 hours, if I have to walk for several miles to get from point A to point B? I’m okay with that. I’m taking it easy on myself,” McDevitt said.

Having that mindset, McDevitt said, is new.

The first time she qualified for the Boston Marathon, she opted not to go. She said that her training was not what it should have been over the winter. The reason she sat out was because she did not feel she would run the race the way she thought she should, and in the end, she would not be happy with her performance.

“At the time, that was my decision. Looking back, what was I thinking?” she said.

When she again qualified for Boston, nothing was going to stop her. She decided she was going to go no matter what.

Her training situation had been similar as it had for her first Boston qualifying, however, McDevitt said it was one of her best races.

“Being in the back of the pack, high-fiving people, and soaking it all in. I’ve learned a lot about that kind of running,” she said.

She credits trail running for helping her shift her mindset for races and training.

“In general, the trail running community is more like that,” McDevitt said.

She said there are competitive trail runners, but has discovered that most just love being outdoors. How fast you go, where you place on the podium matters less, she said.

“The 50 is a brand new event, we’ve never had anything like it here,” she said.

“I’m crossing my fingers, toes, and everything I can find my way to the start line and have a successful day,” she said.

Going forward, beyond the Megunticook 50, McDevitt hopes she is still fit once her children are in college.

“I would love to just dive into doing all sorts of destination kinds of trail races,” she said.