No sun, no problem at silver anniversary Maine Marathon

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Portland’s Spencer McElwain, a native of Caribou, crosses the finish line as the 2016 Maine Marathon winner. McElwain completed the course in 2 hours, 31 minutes, 36 seconds. 

Lauren Jackson, of Augusta, New Jersey, was the women’s winner Sunday.

The 2016 version of the Maine Marathon/Relay/Half Marathon wasn’t as pleasant weather-wise as most editions, but the race still produced a lot of drama, including a men’s race that featured several leaders at various points on the course.

It also served as a goodbye to longtime race director Howard Spear, who is stepping down after 18 years.

The 25th running of the race, which traverses Portland, Falmouth, Cumberland and Yarmouth, saw cool and misty conditions and was ultimately won by 27-year-old Spencer McElwain, a Portland resident and native of Caribou, who posted a time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, 36 seconds.

Taylor Days-Merrill, of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, led for awhile, but wound up second (2:32:25). Portland’s Chris Harmon came in third (2:37:26), Stefan Sandreuter, a former Greely High standout, placed fourth (2:39.08), Falmouth’s Michael Gordon was fifth (2:39:47) and Brunswick’s Robert Ashby came in sixth (2:42:24).

The women’s marathon was won by Lauren Jackson of Augusta, New Jersey, who hit the tape in 3:06:11. Samantha Johnson, of Brookline, Massachusetts was runner-up (3:11.39) and South Portland’s Hollie Corbett placed third (3:15:47). 

In the half-marathon, Falmouth’s Jonny Wilson not only came in first, but he set a new course record in the process (1 hour, 6 minutes, 38 seconds). Portland’s Kyle Fetters placed sixth (1:17:47). 

Portland’s Michelle Lilienthal was the women’s half-marathon winner in 1:18:30. Falmouth’s Sheri Piers (1:20:49) came in second and Scarborough’s Erica Jesseman (1:20:50) was third. Portland’s Jessica Van Binsbergen (1:23:59) and Gretchen Speed (1:26:29) placed fifth and sixth respectively. Falmouth’s Mary Pardi (1:28:28) and Rebecca Wimert (1:29:10) were eighth and ninth respectively. 

The relay champion (out of 123 teams) was Team W.O.W., which had a time of  3:03:55.

“The numbers have been down the last couple of years,” said Spear. “We had about 1,800 in the half-marathon, which is down from 2,200 a couple years ago and 700-plus in the marathon, which is down from over 800 last year. We did have a big relay group though. 

“It was drizzling a little bit when we were setting up, but it stopped by the time the race started and it turned into a nice morning for the runners. Maybe not as nice for the volunteers and spectators.”

This year’s charity was the Dream Factory of Maine, which is guaranteed $50,000. Spear said that another $30,000-40,000 will be donated to local charities.

“My goal was to always give $1 more than Beach to Beacon,” Spear said. “That was accomplished by far.”

Spear, who is retired from the working world and is the grandfather of six, said that the time was right for him to pass the proverbial baton.

“It’s time for some younger people with new ideas,” Spear said. “It is bittersweet though, because I like how things are going. When I first started, I had know idea what marketing was and the race has since tripled in size. I’ve had some great committee members and volunteers. A lot of of them have been with me all 18 years. I couldn’t do it without them and I thank them. It’s been very rewarding.”

The 26th version of the race will be held Oct. 1, 2017. 

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.