2,000 strong: Trek Across Maine rolls into Belfast

Posted:  Monday, June 19, 2017 - 4:15pm

BELFAST — Nearly 2,000 participants in this year’s Trek Across Maine made their way through the streets of Belfast June 18, as their three-day, 180-mile journey came to a waterfront conclusion.

The event marks the single largest annual fundraising event for the American Lung Association nationwide, with over $1 million raised this year alone. The event has raised more than $24 million over its 30+ year history.

The path of the race is largely the same every year, with the first leg of the trek starting at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, and concluding roughly 67 miles later at the University of Maine-Farmington.

The second day, cyclists ride for approximately 57 miles before arriving at Colby College in Waterville, where they rest up for the final day. This part of the ride, which takes place on Father’s Day each year, includes 56 miles of pedaling before participants cruise into Belfast’s Steamboat Landing.

One six-member team, from the Granite State Wheelmen bicycling club, managed to raise roughly $6,000 between them for the cause. Based in New Hampshire, members each brought with them different reasons for riding.

Like many cyclists, several members of the group have been impacted by lung disease, including seven-time rider Stephanie Eno, who lost both of her parents to lung cancer. Eno pedaled with the names of her parents on her scrolled on her calf, carrying their memory along on her ride.

Fellow group member John Straight attached a picture of his former brother-in-law to the front of his bicycle. Straight said he lost his battle with COPD and was part of his inspiration to ride.

The members of the GSW club said they begin training for the Trek Across Maine every April, including training on mountains, according to Eno.

Experience among the six ranged from two first-timers to Bill Kennedy, who marked his 14th successful trek this year.

Eno, who also works as Trek Safety Patrol, said this year’s ride was much better, and safer than in some previous years.

“We work on safety patrol because we’ve ridden for a long time and know the rules of the road,” the seven-time rider said.

“We only approach people if they don’t follow the safety rules,” he said

When asked about the best part of the ride, Eno and fellow rider Dianne Strand both said, “Riding with friends is the best, most memorable part.”

“You learn a lot about the people you ride with,” Eno added.

With the thousands of riders participating in this year’s event, members of the team were quick to acknowledge the unsung heroes of the day.

“We really want to give a shout out to the volunteers -  everything went perfectly,” Kennedy said.

It took 750 volunteers working in countless capacities to ensure the Father’s Day Weekend ride went smoothly.

From handing out water at rest areas during the race to handing out medals at the finish line, volunteers worked in shifts to make the ride as safe and enjoyable as possible.

More than 2,000 riders safely made the journey and nearly $1.1 million was raised, and the 2017 Trek proved yet again the power of people banding together for the greater good.

For more information about the American Lung Association click here.

For additional photos click here.

Erica Thoms can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com