Sideline Stories – Ramona Larsen, Megunticook Trails Festival Director

Saturday morning, it’s 4:45 and I pounce on my alarm so it doesn’t wake up my husband.  In my quiet kitchen I slowly drink tea and eat oatmeal while packing my running vest.  Water, Tailwind, stroopwafels and gummies.  It only takes 5 minutes to drive to the trailhead.  Once there I leisurely warm up while waiting for the rest of this morning’s runners. Today’s route is a 10 mile loop through Camden Hills State Park. We’ll climb 3,000 feet of elevation summiting both Megunticook Mountain and Mount Battie, twice. There are 5 other local runners joining this morning.  Catching up, catching our breath, laughing and stopping for selfies and snacks.

There is not a moment of this run that I’m not savoring.

The thing that actually makes this so extraordinary is that it’s not unusual.  Trail running, building community and connections around trail running has been a huge part of my life for the last four years.

In early 2020, the pandemic made me an unemployed yoga teacher.  I didn’t know how desperate I was for an outlet until I found it.  The first time I turned my sneakers off the road and into Camden Hills State Park, I was hooked. Running on trails filled me in a way that road running never had.  It quieted my mind in a way that yoga used to.  I felt free and completely attuned to my body.  Soon running would make me appreciate my yoga practice more and in time it would make me a more informed yoga teacher.

A good friend noticed my runs on Strava and we started heading out together.  Runs got longer.  I bought a vest.  In May she joked that we should sign up for the Megunticook 50k, a new trail race that was taking place in Camden Hills State Park.  By July we were signed up.  I ran my first 50k in September 2020.  More friends joined us on our runs and we started making new friends on the trails.  I began joining Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine group runs.

I can’t remember exactly when I got the idea to start hosting running retreats for women.  I do know that once that idea hatched I couldn’t let it go.  Trail running, yoga, sharing beautiful Maine trails, cultivating sisterhood.  It had to happen. In spring of 2022, I hosted my first retreat in midcoast Maine.  It was everything I hoped it would be.  I now offer retreats in midcoast Maine and Acadia National Park and have plans to expand around Maine.

This past winter, I learned that the Megunticook 50k and its little sister race The Wicked Tough 10, needed a race director. The event wouldn’t continue if someone didn’t step up to take the role.  I have raced this race every year since it started.  I love the course and am truly proud to have this event in our local state park.  While talking it over, along many miles of trails, with all of my running friends, I knew that if I took the job I wouldn’t be doing it alone.   In my new role as race director I’ve added a 3rd race and renamed the whole event the Megunticook Trail Festival.  I am excited to have this new way of sharing Camden HIlls State Park with runners.

I am honored that people trust me to take them on adventures.  I am so grateful to this sport, this community and this wonderful state that I get to call home.