Runners face mask rule when racing returns
Organizers of some of Maine’s larger road races are optimistic they will be able to host events in 2021.
If you can run while wearing a face covering, there are two bits of good news.

Road races have returned to Maine and organizers of some of the larger races see the state’s COVID-19 guidelines for Organized Racing Events, released last week, as a path forward to holding their events.

The state’s safety plan for road races recommends using staggered or wave starts and advanced registration to decrease crowding, as well as limiting gathering spots after races. Race organizers also are being advised to avoid busing competitors before or after a race, to make food and beverages available in “graband-go” packets, and to consider restricting spectators.

But perhaps the most striking change in Maine road races will be runners wearing masks.

Kate Foye, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, confirmed in an email that “runners are required to wear face coverings during the competition” per both the road race guidelines and the current executive order on mask wearing in public places.

On Sunday, a small group of runners wearing masks took part in the Falmouth 4-miler.

Falmouth High track and cross country coach Jorma Kurry finished third in the race.

“It was challenging to wear a mask and I’m not sure once you’re all spread out and you’re outside … I guess I’d want to see more information how necessary (wearing a mask) is,” Kurry said.

Last year, the vast majority of road races in Maine were canceled or became virtual-only events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For road race organizers, the state guidelines provide clarity for what’s needed to hold events.

Bob Dunfey of the Maine Marathon was part of the group of five race directors who had input with state officials on the guidelines.

“I can speak for those who worked with me on the guidelines, we all feel good about our events.

No one was squawking,” Dunfey said.

Dunfey began informal talks with the city of Portland a day after the guidelines were released.

He hopes to have a formal meeting to approve his permit for the Oct. 3 marathon by early May. If Portland approves, then he’ll move on to getting approval from Falmouth, Cumberland and Yarmouth, the other towns along the 26.2-mile route.

“I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that we’re going to have the race because I need to know I can get a permit,” Dunfey said. “But I feel those can come together, so right now I’m doing my due diligence so we can say in a more explicit way that we can do an event.”

Erik Boucher, the race director for the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon

Last year, the vast majority of road races in Maine were canceled or became virtualonly events because of the pandemic. For road race organizers, the state guidelines provide clarity for what’s needed to hold events.