SOUTHWEST HARBOR – Last to enter, first to finish was the perfect strategy for Jenna Krajewski at Sunday morning’s annual Mount Desert Island Marathon.
The 28-year-old Krajewski, a resident of China who is pursuing her doctoral degree in physical therapy at the University of New England in Biddeford, established a women’s course record with a winning time of 3 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds for the 26-mile run from Bar Harbor to downtown Southwest Harbor.
“I haven’t been training for a marathon at all,” said Krajewski, a Waterville High School and University of Maine-Farmington graduate who signed up for the race late Saturday. “My friends from Utah were up and we came to go camping, and I saw the signs so I said to my husband, ‘I think I’ll just go out and run it.’
“There was no pressure. I’ve run three other marathons and I’m always focused in training for them. This one I was like, ‘I’m just going to go out and run it.'”
The overall winner was a face more familiar to this event, David Herr of Canaan, Vt., who finished in 2:36:45 – a pace of 5:59 per mile – to win for the third straight year and the fifth time in the event’s seven-year history.
“My pace was pretty consistent,” said Herr, who finished second to Bar Harbor’s Judson Cake in this race on both occasions – 2004 and 2005 – when he didn’t win the event. “I started to feel bad around Mile 10, which worried me, but then I kind of got a second wind around Mile 14 and I felt pretty good until the last two miles, when you always feel pretty lousy.”
The 43-year-old Herr, who with his family has made the MDI race an annual mini-vacation each fall, was just a month removed from winning the Adirondack Marathon in Schroon Lake, N.Y., in 2:38:13.
“That’s a challenging course, too,” said Herr, “but with this course the second half is a little more hilly, so I’m kind of psyched about running a faster time here.”
Jeff Day, 38, of Berea, Ohio, finished second, 4:33 behind Herr, in 2:41:18. Day was involved in a two-man battle with Antoine Arcand of Fredericton, New Brunswick, for much of the race, but passed Arcand during Mile 22 and surged ahead to his runner-up position among the more than 900 runners and walkers who registered for the event.
Arcand finished 20 seconds behind Day in 2:41:50, his personal best for the distance by nine minutes.
“I train on a lot of hills back home, so this race went really well,” said the 29-year-old Arcand. “I thought I was going to go under 2:50, but not by this much, so I’m pretty pleased.
“I got passed on Mile 22 though, and then the legs really cramped up. I don’t know if it was the cold, but the last few miles were really a struggle.”
Eric Rudolph, 24, of Sullivan finished fourth overall in 2:41:50, with Andy Beardsley of Surry, 44, fifth in 2:46:11. Other Mainers in the top 10 were Jason Schatz, 26, of Orono, eighth in 2:56:38; and Austin Townsend Jr., 54, of Perry, 10th in 2:57:28.
In the women’s competition, Krajewski steadily pulled away from runner-up Debbie Moreau of Turner to win by 6:13. That time, reflecting a per-mile pace of 6:59, easily bested the previous women’s course record of 3:04:42 set in 2007 by Judi Chiavetta of Arlington, Mass., and enabled Krajewski to place 16th overall.
“I was just a lot more relaxed,” said Krajewski, who had run three previous marathons, with a personal best of 2:49. “I wasn’t trying to win it, I wasn’t trying to run a certain time. I just went out and ran what I felt like running. I had no goals.”
The 37-year-old Moreau, the 2006 MDI Marathon women’s champion who also finished second in the race last year, was timed in 3:09:15.
Finishing third in the women’s field was Amanda Labelle, 24, of Dedham, who ran 3:10:34 in her marathon debut.
“When I signed up, I was just hoping to get 3:40 to qualify [for the Boston Marathon],” she said. “But when I got out there, my family came from all over to watch and they were all cheering me on and pulled me through it.”
Labelle started out running faster than she had planned, and was able to maintain a 7:17 pace throughout the race while finishing 25th overall.
“I was working at a running store this summer,” said Labelle, whose previous longest race was a half-marathon. “A couple of my friends were training for a 100-miler, and I thought, hey, if you can do a hundred I might as well get going and try a marathon.”
Susan Mikkelsen, 36, of Portland, Ore., was fourth among women finishers and 40th overall in 3:16:40, 10 seconds and one place ahead of Reshanna Taylor, 34, of Westport Island.
One other Mainer to finish in the women’s top 10 was Lara Judson, 27, of Mount Desert, who finished in 3:23:59.