News & Events

Second Annual Half Marathon planned in Mars Hill

Date: 07/25/2019

Andy Grass of Blaine runs along the scenic half marathon route in last year’s Big Run Around the Mountain in Mars Hill.  This year’s run is planned for Sunday, August 11, starting and ending at Bigrock. (Photo by Pete Freeman)

Presque Isle, Maine (July 25, 2019) — The second annual “Big Run Around the Mountain” half marathon will take place on Sunday, August 11, 2019.  The event is sponsored jointly by Northern Light AR Gould Hospital in Presque Isle and Bigrock Mountain in Mars Hill.


The two organizations created the event last year as part of Mars Hill’s Homecoming activities.  With the tremendous positive feedback from runners at the event, organizers decided to make this an annual event.


The Big Run Around the Mountain offers an affordable option for runners who want to test their limits and try out a longer run than a traditional 5K or 10K as well as for experienced runners who want to train for the Caribou Marathon or the Maine Marathon in September. 


“By keeping this a simple event, we are able to keep the cost down to only $25 a person,” explains Karen Gonya, communications manager at the hospital and one of the event organizers. “The cost of a full or half marathon can be prohibitive to some, especially those who have never run that far and are not sure that they can finish.  Our commitment through the Fit & Fun program is to offer activities at low or no cost to eliminate that barrier to getting out there and trying something new.”


That approach paid off, with more than 40 runners taking part in the first offering of the event last year.  As anticipated, some used it as a training opportunity, while others used it as a first-time half marathon attempt or simply a chance to enjoy a beautiful, scenic run. 


“My wife and I enjoy participating in a variety of running events from tough mountain obstacle races, mud runs to half marathons. What draws us to participate in a race is a fun atmosphere, comradery of fellow runners, and a challenging course.  The Big Run Around the Mountain Half Marathon provided all of those things,” said Andy Grass of Blaine following last year’s event. The timing of the race was great for us too, leading into the Caribou Marathon.  It was great to see the hospital and Bigrock partner to put on this event which supported the community of Mars Hill.” 


The event also drew runners from out of the area who traveled to the region specifically for the race or were here as part of the local homecoming event. This draw of both locals and visitors is one of the reasons Bigrock is co-sponsoring the event.


“We want people to recognize Bigrock as a resource in the community throughout the year, not just during the winter,” said Travis Kearney, Bigrock manager.  “Hosting this half marathon with the hospital is ideal. People from near and far can come enjoy the beauty around Bigrock, and we hope they will plan to come back.”   


To help support the runners as they travel the 13.1 miles around the base of the mountain, Tweedie IGA and Northern Light AR Gould Hospital are once again sponsoring a contest for cheer stations along the route.  In addition to cheering participants on as they pass, these stations should offer water or Gatorade for runners. Music, posters and balloons are just a few ideas of ways a cheer station might brighten the event and be in contention to win the contest and a $100 IGA gift certificate.


“Those who live along the route can park at the end of their driveway or bring lawn chairs down by the road,” says Josh Tweedie, owner of Tweedie IGA. “Those who have a float in Saturday’s parade can bring it and park it along the way.  Or take the lead from last year’s winner, Kim Fields, who simply set up a table along the route. From balloons, posters and water to painted messages along the road, she really got into the spirit of things.”


The efforts of Fields and half a dozen others along the route was noticed and appreciated by the runners.


“It was great to see so many families set up along the race course handing out water, Gatorade, and words of encouragement,” commented Grass.


The race begins and ends at the Bigrock ski area. Check in is at 7:00 am, with the race getting underway at 7:30 am.  The registration fee includes a t-shirt and medal, as well as an award for the top male and top female finishers. Registrations must be received by August 2 to guarantee a shirt.


To register online or for more information, including a course map, please visit and click on the event banner at the bottom of the page.


Questions regarding the Big Run Around the Mountain or hosting a cheer station can be directed to Karen Gonya at 768.4012 or