There is still plenty of snow on the ground in outlying areas this spring, and more is forecast for the long Patriots Day weekend ahead. That suits Alain Ollier just fine.

In fact, the native of Paris, France, moved to Maine five years ago with his wife out of the couple’s love of Maine winters.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Ollier said Friday, three days before he is to run in his second Boston Marathon. “You have all four seasons here. Each one is unique, and winter is really beautiful.”

There could be a mixture in Boston on marathon day of rain and wet snow. For Ollier, it will only serve as another chapter in what makes the Boston Marathon so unique. The hometowns of the approximately 30,000 runners in Monday’s field feature climates as dramatically different as their backgrounds.

Ollier, 48, lives in Newcastle and is currently teaching French at Gardiner Area High School as he pursues his physical therapy license. Whether it’s cold and snowy or warm and dry on Monday, he sees the Boston Marathon through a single lens.

“My goal is to have fun. I’m not going to try to get a personal record,” Ollier said. “With Boston, I had such a good time last year. It’s something unique. It’s a million people in the streets. A huge crowd. They are smiling, involved, cheering on (runners). It’s amazing.”

Though Ollier is from France, he comes to marathon running through Maine, through a little salt water in the breeze.

He qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2017 by competing in the marathon at Sugarloaf, and he finished the Boston course in just under 3 hours and 19 minutes. That qualified him for this year’s 122nd edition of the race.

Last fall, he ran the marathon on Mount Desert Island and clocked in at just under 3:12. That effort also qualified him for the 2019 Boston Marathon, should he choose to enter it.

With Monday’s run set to be the sixth Marathon he’s run in his career — his first was several years ago in Burlington, Vermont — Ollier doesn’t consider himself a prototypical runner.

“I don’t have the body of the real runners that are tall, thin, and built to run,” said Ollier, whose first distance race was a 20-kilometer race in Brussels, Belgium, as a student in 1992. “I’m a little bit shorter than that. I just do the technique.”

The ‘technique’ of which Ollier is so fond he found almost by accident.

It was laid out in the pages of a book he found in a New York City thrift shop, in Danny Dreyer’s “Chi Running.” Ollier calls it his bible.

Ollier doesn’t follow a rigorous training schedule. He doesn’t belong to a running club, have a trainer or run with groups. In fact, he may not run more than once or twice all summer, he said, as part of his down time.

So, how did this long-term substitute teacher in Gardiner, who lives in Maine’s mid-coast and grew up in Paris, end up as a marathoner?

It certainly wasn’t the running.

“The whole running thing, that wasn’t really it for me,” he said. “It was the goal. I said, ‘You need to do one marathon.’ That’s what I wanted to do. It’s an event. It’s you against yourself, or with yourself, however you want to say it.”

He may enjoy running by himself, or the challenge of trying to complete 26.2 miles on his own, but there’s something about the Boston Marathon that is very much a group effort. It’s that community spirit, that energy from the hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators that has drawn him back to Boston — back to the little town of Hopkinton, the city’s Copley Square and, of course, to Mile 21’s infamous Heartbreak Hill.

“It’s hard to grab,” Ollier said. “Even though I train by myself, the marathon is when you come together with other people who have been through same experience of training. Boston, since everybody qualified for that, everybody has been through the same (preparation). It’s the same sweating. You feel the same emotions. The same ups and downs. Sometimes, you think ‘Today’s not my day and I don’t want to go train,’ but you have to go.”

Even with so many different backgrounds, none more diverse than Ollier’s, all 30,000 runners congregating on the starting line Monday — grouped together by qualifying times and ability levels — will be in it together.

They’ll be there facing the same grueling race, the same oversized and enthusiastic crowd urging them home, the same rollercoaster of emotions from the day they started training through the final mile of the course.

“There’s still snow on the ground here, and it’s in three days,” Ollier said. “Some people are coming from countries where it’s 85 degrees. But still, we’ve been through the same thing. That’s what makes it interesting.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.