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Trail runners unite: Megunticook 50K ultra coming

Camden Hills State Park venue for 31-mile trek
By Holly Vanorse Spicer | Apr 06, 2020
Source: Emily McDevitt/Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine Scene from the trails at Camden Hills State Park.

Camden — Maine is known for its breathtaking scenery and views. The rocky beaches, as well as hidden gems in the forests, mountains and streams.

For four years, the only local trail racing event in the Knox, Lincoln and Waldo county area has been the Camden Snow Bowl Trail Fest. The event has a 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) children’s race, 5K (3.2-mile) trail run, as well as a 10K (6.2-mile) bike race and 15K (9.3-mile) run and bike duathlon.

Given the Midcoast has trails galore for hiking, biking and running, it is a surprise only one event gathers trail runners to test their mettle against the terrain and other athletes.

In September, there will be not one, but two new kids on the block in trail racing.

The Camden Hills State Park will be the grounds where the area gets its feet a little dirty with its first ultra run, the Megunticook 50K —a grueling 31-mile distance.

For those not up for trekking quite that far, an option of a 6.2-mile distance course with the "Wicked Tough" 10K is available.

Those races are on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Traversing more than 90 percent of the trails in the park offers runners incredible views and challenge.

The races will start at 8 a.m. at the main entrance to the Camden Hills State Park on Belfast Road in Camden.

Packet pickup for races, and a prerace meeting, will be on Sept. 11 at the Point Lookout Fitness Center in Northport.

The cost of the Megunticook 50K is $95 and the "Wicked Tough" 10K $65.

The event was created by David and Tammy Hirschfeld. The couple owns Point Lookout in Northport.

David certainly is no stranger to running ultras. In 2019, he completed the 6633 Arctic Ultra in Eagle Plains, Yukon (Canada). Consisting of 120- and 380-mile options for runners, the Arctic Ultra is considered to be the toughest, coldest, windiest footrace in the world.

Only 25 runner spots are opened each year to those up for the challenge.

It took David 207 hours to complete the 380-mile course, which brought him over the Arctic Circle, and to the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk.

While planning and organizing events can be tricky, planning dates, times, logistics and getting permission to hold the event at the Camden Hills park is just as much of a feat.

Emily McDevitt, a local trail runner and founder of Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine, said she was amazed when she first heard about the ultra trail run being held at the state park.

She credits the Hirschfelds success in getting access to the trails for the event to David’s working relationship with the park, and its officials, that has been in place nearly 14 years.

She said David had worked on the trails and proven to park officials he is someone who cares, and built a level of respect.

The Megunticook 50K is not for the faint of heart, or a good trail for the first-time ultra runner.

The peaks of Battie, Bald Rock, Derry, Frohock, Cameron and Megunticook will be topped in this race, giving runners a total elevation over the 31 miles of more than 7,600 feet.

There are only three places that will bring runners out-and-back, but overall, it is not a circuit race, run multiple times.

There will be five aid stations, which includes two areas runners will pass twice, which will give them a total of seven opportunities to stop.

Overall, the 31 miles breaks down to two miles of pavement, eight miles of closed gravel road and 21 miles of single-track trails. The race time cut off is 13 hours.

The "Wicked Tough" 10K comes with its own warning. Worried it may be considered significantly easier than its longer counterpart, runners are warned that the course is no piece of cake.

Just more than six miles long, the trail promises an elevation gain of more than 1,600 feet. Covering two miles of pavement, and four miles of single track trails, the "Wicked Tough" will test any runner who traverses the course.

However, they will be rewarded with views of the Atlantic Ocean from open ledge areas on the course.

There is no a race time cutoff for the "Wicked Tough," but after three hours, if a runner has not crossed the finish line yet, race officials will look for them.

It is advised runners carry plenty of water and use sunscreen, as well as bug spray to ward off mosquitoes, black flies, ticks and other troublesome insects.

It also is encouraged to train for the event, and study the course map. By studying the map, not only does it familiarize runners with the course, but it also gives them help in knowing when the course climbs, or turns to a downhill.

For more information, or to register for the Megunticook 50K ultra or the "Wicked Tough" 10K, visit megunticook50.com.

Registration for the races closes Aug. 30.

Scene from the trails at Camden Hills State Park. (Courtesy of: Emily McDevitt/Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine)
Scene from the trails at Camden Hills State Park. (Courtesy of: Emily McDevitt/Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine)
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