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History in the highlands

Maine-iacs win seventh straight year Cabot Trail Relay

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
May 29, 2017

BADDECK, N.S. – The Maine-iacs did it again.
For the seventh straight year a group of guys from Maine won the Cabot Trail Relay Race, an unprecedented achievement in the event’s 30-year history.
While the second place Black Lungs and the third place Cape Breton Road Runners were barely two minutes apart after the 17-leg, 276-kilometre race , The Maine-iacs finished about a half hour ahead of them.
“When people bring it to The Maine-iacs, The Maine-iacs just turn up the dial,” said race director David Parkinson. “I don’t know how many notches they have on the dial, but they seem to have quite a few.”

Rejean Chaisson of Pace and Mind en route to his impressive Leg 4 win in the 2017 Cabot Trail Relay Race on Saturday, May 27.

Lamrock Photography

Winning the team competition was not the only achievement for the American visitors this year. Maine-iac Erik McCarthy ran Leg 11 in 43:48, obliterating a course record by four minutes that had stood since 1999. His teammate, Dan Vasallo, also broke the record for Leg 16 by more than a minute.
The team is made up of phenomenal runners, but Parkinson things their success goes beyond that.
“I think they love this event so much, they have an energy that carries them,” he said. “It sounds a little odd, but at the same time they absolutely thrive and love this event. Guys on that team choose not to go to significant marathon events in the States so they can come to this.”
The Maine-iacs are not alone in their love for the event, which starts at The Gaelic College in St. Ann’s at 7 a.m. on Saturday, and ends on the streets of Baddeck Sunday morning about 26 hours later.
For Nick Croker of the Toronto-based Black Lungs, it is the race he looks forward to most all year.
“There are so many things that I like about the Cabot Trail Relay,” he said. “It takes place in one of the most beautiful parts of Canada, the very welcoming locals and how well run it is by the race committee. It is a race that pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you as a runner in many ways.”
Croker said they were happy to finish in second place this year.

“We had a great battle with the Cape Breton Road Runners,” he said. “It went back and forth a lot between us throughout the race. We ended up beating them by just over two minutes, and it’s amazing that a 276 km race can end up that close.”
The Cape Breton team was quite happy with their showing, according to member Justin Lalanne, who thanked Lee McCarron and the Halifax Road Hammers for helping them out this year.
The relay is one of Lalanne’s favourite races of the year.
“I love the team spirit and how unique each leg of the relay is,” he said. “The race organizers and volunteers do an amazing job of making this race run so smoothly. I know firsthand that organizing one race can be challenging, but I can’t even imagine trying to organize 17 in a row.”
A lot of work goes into the event, from the administrative team in Cape Breton, to the technical crew that comes in for the weekend from throughout the region, but Parkinson said the success of the relay is about even more than that.
“It’s also about runners owning the responsibility to cooperate, and doing what needs to be done to keep it going,” he said. “Each year it gets better with the runners doing that, which makes the tech crew’s job easier, which makes my job easier when it comes time again next year. Everyone working as a unit just makes it a totally workable, sustainable event.”