For the ‘Sole Sisters,’ the marathon is about finishing
CARRABASSETT VALLEY — It may be the 29th year for the May 15 Sugarloaf Marathon and 15K, but it’s the first for a group of six mothers who started running to lose baby fat, but now, use it to teach them and their kids lifelong lessons of setting and accomplishing goals.
“It’s all about going the distance and not about coming in first,” said Christine Lally Kendall, 38, Bangor. “The rewards are better than we ever imagined... We’re middle of the packers. Sugarloaf is a fast race. We’ll be pretty much at the back. We’ll be happy to finish and do the distance.”
According to Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin, with over 780 runners already registered, this year’s Sugarloaf Marathon and 15k will see the largest field of runners in its 29-year history. The marathon, which will be presented by Landry/French Construction Company, is Maine’s oldest continuously run marathon, and attracts runners from around the world.
Last year’s race saw roughly 720 runners compete in the two races, which was the largest turnout in the event’s history. This year’s pre-registration numbers have already surpassed that mark.
The six mothers from the Bangor area, who one by one formed this supportive running network, now call themselves the Sole Sisters. This will be their second marathon –-their first being the Burlington, TV, Key Bank City Marathon. The six completed in the Mt. Desert Island relay last year.
There is no competitiveness in the group, Kendall said, with her fastest time being 4:54 in Burlington. Her first goal was to finish; her second goal was to be under five hours. “I came in the middle.”
Their times vary by about an hour. Some run faster than others, and during workouts they rotate running with one another, pacing themselves in shifts.
“We are ready for the Sugarloaf Marathon,” she said. “We’ve have been training and have three weeks left (as of April 27). We have a 12-mile run, an eight-mile run, and then it’s the big day.”
The full 26.2-mile marathon starts in Eustis and goes through Carrabassett Valley. Net proceeds will be donated to the Sugarloaf Charitable Trust. In 2010, the trust received $14,000 from the marathon.
Kendall said, she’s heard that 16 miles is considered gradual downhill, but that may be a relative term when you run in Maine.
All six have young children. It’s hard to compete with spouses and young children at home. Sugarloaf is relatively close by. Two weeks after the Sugarloaf Marathon, they plan to compete in the Key Bank City Marathon, Burlington, Vt. “Two in two weeks will be a challenge,” she said.
Sometimes all six can compete. Sometimes it’s part of the group. In addition to Kendall, other members of the Sole Sisters are Amy Sidell, 38, Hampden; Jennifer McGoldrick, 38, Bangor; Emilie Manhart, 37, Hampden; Susan Thibedeau, 44, Bangor; and Suzanne Carver, 34, Hampden.
They are all within 10 years of one another and usually finish in about an hour of one another. “I’m kind of in the middle of the pack,” she said.
Kendall and Sidell started walking together after they had their second child, eight days a part. “We’d meet at mall and work at a sweat, and it felt like a really good workout. We’d walk around neighborhood, taking strollers to the streets.”
Then Kendall decided to try running again, after years of her husband trying to get her to run with him. “I used to say I won’t run unless someone is chasing me… Amy was more athletic. That first day we went up and down the streets in Bangor, actually 2.9 miles. We’d walk and run, and walk and run, and then I was hooked, after I had seen we had gone that far,” she said.
They participated in a few 5Ks, the 10K Beach to Beacon, and Oct. 2008, they ran the Maine Half Marathon together. A little over a year later, three of them ran their first marathon together, the MDI (Mount Desert Island) Marathon. “Other moms at preschool started calling us the sporty moms.
“I didn’t tell anyone I was preparing for races because I wasn’t sure I’d be doing it,” Kendall said.
Kendall, Sidell, and McGoldrick, were all career women who chose to stay home with the kids. It was a difficult transition with a lot of adjustments. We had all relocated and were looking for something else. “The timing was perfect. We were all in the same emotional place.
“If you feel like you are becoming too one dimensional, you need to find something else. For all of us, this group of runners became that. We needed to work towards what was our own and could share with our families and our kids,” she said. The Sole Sisters want to share the positive nature of their experience, and have a blog and a website: Mainely Running, Motivating You to Get Moving —www.mainelyrunning.com.
“I don’t know what Sugarloaf will bring. It takes about half way through the marathon to figure out if I can go faster… Every time you run, it’s a different experience.
“The kids are proud of us… At first the kids were confused because they thought we had won. We told them we received a medal for finishing and that’s enough. It’s not about winning, it’s about completing it.”