Bay of Fundy International Marathon : A cross-border race between the US and Canada

03 Jan 2013 07:00
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

Hello, on June 23 2013, you’ll be organizing the Bay of Fundy International Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?

The Bay of Fundy lies on the Atlantic Coast of North America between the US State of Maine and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Bay of Fundy International Marathon will be run along the south-western coastline of the Bay, starting at the most easterly point in the USA and crossing onto Campobello Island, Canada. The race will run through Lubec in Maine, and Welshpool and Wilson’s Beach on Campobello Island, New Brunswick.

Bay of Fundy lies on the Atlantic Coast itself.

It will be the inaugural edition. Why was it created in the first place?

When the race founder – Katherine Cassidy, a runner and at one-time a serious triathlon reporter – moved into the area a few years ago she saw the quiet roads, friendly people, and beautiful views of water, forests and fishing villages as a wonderful location for a marathon.

Credit : Bay of Fundy International Marathon & 10K
After 3 years of systematically driving the roads, dreaming of the possibilities, and discussing it with others, a critical mass of local volunteers was achieved and the decision made that organization of a marathon was feasible.

The idea was to highlight the attractions of the area: the lighthouses, fishing villages, the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, and the rural water views and friendly people; to attract runners to the area in the quieter season; to promote running as part of a healthy life style in the area; and build friendship between the people of Canada and the USA.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The course is designed to be scenic, safe and fun. It starts at the most easterly point in the USA – the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine, follows the shore road into Lubec, the most easterly town in the USA, and crosses onto Campobello Island, Canada by way of the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge over “the narrows” – the southerly passage of the Atlantic Ocean from the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine into the Passamaquoddy Bay, Cobscook Bay and St. Croix river which separates Canada and the USA.

Credit : Bay of Fundy International Marathon & 10K
Once on Campobello Island the course passes through the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park and historic Roosevelt Summer Cottage, the scenic fishing villages of Welshpool and Wilson’s Beach, to turn at East Quoddy Head Lighthouse (also called Head Harbour Light) at the northerly tip of Campobello. The course then retraces its steps over the bridge back to the USA to finish on the main street (called Water Street) of Lubec.

For the most part the course is gently rolling with some slightly steeper, but short, hills at the northern end. The scenery is a mixture of forest, fishing villages, lighthouses and views of both Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy. Eagles and seals are regularly seen from the course.

We also have an equally scenic companion 10K which also starts at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and finishes in Lubec, Maine. It does not cross into Canada.

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

As of the beginning of December 2012 we have about 100 runners already registered for the marathon. As runners plan their season we are hoping the number will rise to around 200 in the first year.

Credit : Bay of Fundy International Marathon & 10K
Five years from now we would like to see the number climb to around 2,000 which would be about the maximum the course could handle. We are hoping for around another 100 in the 10K.

We hope to attract runners of all abilities. We have an early start for those anticipating taking up to 8 hours on the course but are expecting the winner to be in at around 2 hours 30. We anticipate plenty of local runners, particularly for the 10K, but most are likely to come from the wider New Brunswick and Maine areas. Currently we have runners signed up from 5 Canadian provinces and 15 US states. We also have a number of teams signed up for the marathon and are particularly expecting to see some friendly rivalry between high school teams in the Washington County (USA) and Charlotte County (Canada) area in the 10K.

Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?

There will be a 10K race, from West Quoddy Head Lighthouse to Lubec, and also a 1 mile kids/family Fun Run.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

Credit : Bay of Fundy International Marathon & 10K
Normally we would expect temperatures in the range of 10-13 Celsius, the low 50’s Fahrenheit, at 8.00am (start time), rising to around 15-18 C, the low 60’s F, by midday. But of course these are averages. We could have a cold misty start with temperatures in the single digits Celsius or 40’s Fahrenheit, and it could rise into the mid or high 20’s C, or up to 80 F, by 2.00pm. One of the factors that makes this a great running climate is that we are surrounded by the cold waters of the Bay of Fundy, which are fed by the cold Labrador current flowing down from the arctic. It rarely gets really hot in summer, or really cold in winter.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

Well if you consider a pre-race expo, a lobster and pasta dinner Saturday night, a Community Fun Run and Community breakfast on Sunday morning, and a street party at the finish line with local craft and food vendors together with music from local musicians “festivities”, then yes! Very much so. Of course it is probably politically incorrect to mention that the finish line is rather close to, if not between, Cohill’s Inn and the Water Street Tavern.

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Lubec before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

Well, for those who didn’t have the time or energy to enjoy either West or East Quoddy Heads and their Lighthouses during the race these cliffs, lighthouses and water views are quite spectacular. It is a little early in the year for whales, but eagles, seals and other wildlife abounds.

Credit : Bay of Fundy International Marathon & 10K

The Roosevelt-Campobello park and the Roosevelt Cottage are always worth a visit, as is the beautiful beach at Herring Cove. There are also a number of artists and studios in the area. For those concerned with replenishment – and I should have mentioned that runners can always soak their legs in the cold waters of Cobscook Bay just after the finish line – there are a number of local restaurants all featuring locally caught shellfish and seafood, including of course clams and lobsters. There are links to both these and local tourist information on our web site.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Bay of Fundy International Marathon?

If you want a clean, green, and friendly marathon with lighthouses, water views and fishing villages in rural Downeast Maine USA and the Fundy Islands of the Canadian maritimes, then we have something you might be interested in.

As well as being the Race Director for the Bay of Fundy International Marathon John Hough is a freelance ecologist and natural resource specialist living in Edmunds, Maine, USA. A Briton by birth he recently moved there after 30 years of work all over the world with governments, international conservation organizations and the United Nations. He has been a runner since he was about 7 years old and recently ran the MDI Marathon in under 4 hours.