Central Maine Striders held the January Thaw 4.5 Miler on January 26, 2020. This was postponed a week from its original date because of snow, ice and dangerous road conditions. Although you never want to see an RD risk runner participation by postponing, I will confess that this worked out great for me: I've slowly worked my way back from a pinched nerve, and the week's wait gave me enough time to deepen my running base just enough to bring the race within safe reach.
Central Maine Striders does a great job with this race and this, their 40th edition, was no exception. They are able to maintain a small-town feel while offering a well-marked course with marshals at every turn and a post-race raffle that was generous to a fault. The decision to postpone did not seem to radically affect their field--the old-timers told me that there were even more runners than last year. I've had this race vaguely on my to-do list for years, and was grateful to share the course with such good people on such a good day.
So why 4.5 miles? Simple: that's the loop. The course only follows the state highway for a couple hundred yards before turning onto quiet rural roads for the rest of the run. You have some hills, but nothing major, as you enjoy a nearly traffic-free run through woods and fields, back to the school where you started. Central Maine Striders has chosen the elegance of a good loop over the compromises needed to offer a traditional race distance, and I am 100% down with it.
I carpooled to Belgrade with my running family, most of whom were there to race. I shared most of the course with Earl E. Leeds who, like me, needed to take a more moderate approach to pacing. He was saving his legs for a bigger race the following week while I was holding back to safely manage my physical symptoms. We were both successful in our endeavors, with me managing my longest run of my recovery with no ill effects.
For me, this race came at a perfect time. It offered an adventure to cure the boredom of injury recovery, was held in lovely weather, was well-organized and well-run, and gathered the such a lovely group of people together. I recommend adding this one to your calendar for 2021.