Sugarloaf Marathon and 15k Race Report

Team RunRun coach Salena Sykes shares her intel about the Sugarloaf Marathon so you can be prepared for race day.

In this Sugarloaf Marathon and 15k race report Team RunRun Coach Salena Sykes shares intel on the race, where the hills are, and what to expect on race day so you can be prepared for your race day! Enjoy!

Race: Sugarloaf Marathon & 15k

Runner: Coach Salena Sykes

Race Date: 05/20/2018

Location: Kingfield, ME

Results: 3:30

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  • The views! The race takes place in beautiful Kingfield, Maine with views of Flagstaff Lake, the Carrabassett River, and Sugarloaf mountain.
  • The times. This race is known for faster times due to it being net downhill
  • The volunteers and overall atmosphere of the race. People are so friendly and encouraging!

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

The road is not closed to traffic so you do have to share the road with some local traffic. However, it is a small enough race that runners are usually pretty spread out so there is plenty of room to run on the right side of the road without feeling too crowded.

It is spring in Maine so sometimes the roads and shoulders are not in the best condition. You will have to watch your step in some spots.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Highlight of my race was running a BQ in my first ever marathon. It was an amazing feeling! I feel that I did a good job of being more conservative in the first half and then using the downhills in the second half to my advantage instead of burning out, which is so easy to have happen in any marathon.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

  • There are some tough hills in the first half of the race, especially miles 8-10, so try not to go out too fast.
  • Focus on hills in your training so you are prepared come race day
  • Prepare for the downhills by training your quads and knees. Running downhill can be just as tough on your legs as running uphill!

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Be prepared for any type of weather. The second time I ran Sugarloaf, it was the warmest it had been all year with temps reaching the high 80’s the day before the race. On race day it was in the 60’s and super humid. I had not been training in weather this warm and it was HARD on race day. There is only so much you can do to prepare, but it’s important to understand how much the weather can impact a race and not to bet on perfect conditions.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It’s a point to point race. The race only veers off the road to get to the finish line, otherwise it’s a straight shot down the same road. Hardest hills are in miles 8-10 with some small rolling hills around miles 19 and 20 that can feel just as hard on tired legs. Miles 11 and 16 have the biggest downhills.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes, very! Views of the Carrabassett River, Flagstaff Lake, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Things are usually just starting to come back to life after the long winter so there are pops of green

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes, I would say this is a tough course. Miles 8-10 are HARD and the downhills are demanding on your body in a different way. As with any marathon, things get harder the closer you get to the finish line.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Yes, volunteers were excellent! There was minimal waiting at packet pickup. Shuttles to the start were plentiful and all on time, and baggage shuttles were easy to navigate as well! You will need to bring your own bag for the baggage shuttles.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Yes there is some good competition! It’s a popular local race, and with the reputation for fast times. Most people come here to try to get a personal best or take a shot at a BQ.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

They cap the race at 2,000 runners so the race does usually sell out. Lodging should definitely be booked ahead of time as there are minimal options. I had good luck finding an Airbnb that was right on the course and it was perfect!

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard fare. Water stops are every 2 miles or so with water and sports drinks. A couple of them have GU available as well. Porta potties are scattered throughout the course.

Weather and typical race conditions

Spring in Maine is always a toss up. Normal temps at the start (which is at 7:00am) would be 30-40 degrees with temps reaching up to 60 degrees on average. As always, rain, wind, humidity will all impact performance on race day so it’s important to look ahead and be prepared!

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

No. I carry my own fluids but there are plenty of water stops on the course.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Somewhat. There are some designated cheer spots along the route, but since it is a point to point race, your family and friends may not be able to see you as often as they would like. The water stops have volunteers who are super encouraging and the cheer spots are great for boosting morale. However, if you are someone who needs the cheer of a crowd to motivate you, this race will be more of a challenge in that regard.

How’s the Swag?

Standard swag with a cool wooden race medal and long sleeve shirt

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5/5 stars! It’s a beautiful run and there is an opportunity to run FAST on this course

Salena Sykes is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.