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Caribou Marathon’s success continues into third year

CARIBOU, Maine — Wolfgang Hoeksma didn’t realize he was the oldest competitor in the Caribou Marathon until soon after finishing his race, but a smile quickly appeared after being told of the distinction.

The 71-year-old Miramichi, New Brunswick, resident completed the half marathon just 11.7 seconds ahead of his goal of 2 hours. He was one of 308 runners and walkers participating in Sunday’s event.

Hoeksma said he has competed in 40 marathons, including 30 Boston Marathons, four ironman triathlons and several other races of various distances during his 40-year running career.

“I don’t want to get old, so I’m doing my best to stay young,” he said with a grin.

Norm Trask of Easton douses himself with water as relief from the warm temperatures that greeted runners in Sunday’s Caribou Marathon. (Kevin Sjoberg)

Hoeksma and the other participants braved warm temperatures for the second year in a row. He said the course is challenging, but the number of hills along the route suits him just fine.

“It has a lot of ups and downs, but you don’t get as tired like you would if it was all flat and it’s a good change for your muscles,” said Hoeksma, whose son, Jeffrey, was a participant in the full marathon.

The elder Hoeksma is a fan of the race and how well organized it is, especially the water stops, which are especially vital with the heat as much of a factor as it was Sunday.

“Sometimes in Boston you can spend two or three minutes waiting for water, but here there are lots of volunteers taking care of that and today was a day you needed that because it got pretty hot,” he said.

One of those volunteers was Tammy Deveau of Caribou, who was working the water/energy drink stop at the 12-mile mark. She said she was glad to be involved in assisting the competitors.

“These runners are an inspiration,” said Deveau, who added she always gets a ‘thank you’ from them. “It’s good to see people being healthy and the community cheering them on.”

Pat Sterris of Caribou attended the race with her 9-year-old granddaughter, Raquell Sterris of Fort Kent, to offer encouragement to those passing by. Raquell even helped by collecting empty cups left behind by the runners.

“The dedication these runners show is impressive,” said Pat Sterris. “Events like this are important to the community and I enjoy coming out to show my support.”

Terri Ouellette and her husband, Pete, reside on the East Presque Isle Road and both were excited about this year’s change in the route after a portion of the River Road was closed down because of damage caused by heavy rain and flooding in the spring.

She and approximately 20 family members and friends stood along the road by their home along the new route and created excitement for the passers-by with a combination of cowbells, music, dancing and cheering.

“We thought it’d be a good opportunity to get together to support these athletes and hopefully inspire people,” said Terri Ouellette, whose co-worker, Thomas Wire, competed in the full-length marathon.

Hoeksma was one who appreciated the support of fans along the way.

“There are a lot of nice fans along the course,” he said. “I even had 3-year-olds giving me high fives. It’s so nice to have people cheering you on along the way.”

According to Christina Kane-Gibson, the Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator, 404 runners signed up for this year’s races — 58 in the marathon, 170 in the half marathon, 46 in the marathon relay, 34 in the half marathon relay and 96 in the Caribou Kids Race. She said the total of registrations marked an increase of about 50 from 2017.

P.J. Gorneault of Caribou receives greetings from young fans after winning the half marathon Sunday in Caribou. (Kevin Sjoberg)

Kane-Gibson added that between 150 and 200 volunteers, representing several schools, businesses and organizations from the city, lent their support to the event.

The top three overall finishers in the full marathon were: first place, Curtis Wheeler of New Sweden, 2 hours, 42 minutes, 48.7 seconds; second, Jonathan Goupee of Orrington, 2:57:06.9; and third, Michael Downing of Mount Chase, 2:57:22.5.

For females, the top three included: first, Lauren Barkhouse of Boston, 3:33:14.3; second, Rachel Haurwitz of Lafayette, California, 3:49:28.3; and third, Marie Beckum of Caribou, 3:58:18.3.

In the half marathon, the three fastest males were: first, P.J. Gorneault of Caribou, 1:14:48.4; second, Andrew Goupee of Holden, 1:27:16.3; and third, Matthew Forshey of Fort Kent, 1:31:09.2.

For females, making up the top three were: first, Gabrielle Wheeler of New Sweden, 1:22:16.6 (good for second overall); second, Kayla Buck of Mapleton, 1:36:07.2 (fifth overall); and third, Katie Malone of Caribou, 1:38:57.7 (seventh overall).

The really young runners had their own day with the Caribou Kids Race, a 1.2-mile race on Saturday which was followed by a free spaghetti supper at the community center. Ninety six youths, between the ages of 3 and 13, participated.

For complete results from all the weekend races, visit online: https://runsignup.com/Race/Results/26395/#resultSetId-129393

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