Ryan Eiler only hoped for a personal-best time Sunday at the Gorham Savings Bank Maine Marathon, but after taking the lead at Mile 20 the Boston runner pushed the pace to eclipse the previous course record by nearly 2 minutes.

Eiler, 36, finished the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 19 minutes and 19 seconds to break Dan Vassallo’s 10-year-old course record of 2:21:12. Vassallo, 37, of Peabody, Massachusetts, finished second Sunday in 2:21.14.

The race, now in its 31st year, started in Portland’s Back Cove before heading north into Falmouth, Cumberland and Yarmouth, eventually returning to the Back Cove for the finish. There were 746 marathon finishers and 1,434 finishers in the half marathon.

“There was a strong head wind on the way out. I tucked behind those two to break the wind. Then with 5 to 6 miles to go, I felt the pace slowing down, so I punched it for 1 to 2 miles and tried to take advantage of the tailwind on the way back,” said Eiler, 36, who finished fourth last year and bested his previous marathon PR by seven minutes.

In the women’s division, Lila Gaudrault of Cape Elizabeth took the lead for good at Mile 19 and then held off Caroline Pietrzyk of Texas to win the title in 2:52.17 on a gusty, 55-degree morning, while Pietrzy finished in 2:53.19.

For 20 miles the men’s race featured the tight pack of Vassallo and 25-year-old Wesley Robinson of Denver leading with Eiler running behind. Eiler remained tucked in to break the headwind at the Back Cove and along Route 1 into Falmouth.


But on the last 10 miles on Route 88, the pack started to separate on the hills. At first, Robinson pulled ahead. But then at Mile 20 on the last significant hill, Eiler took the lead for good and put distance between him and Robinson, who fell back 15 yards and eventually by as much as 200. 

With his brother, Pete Eiler of Portland, cycling alongside him, Eiler got constant reports of Robinson’s proximity. By Mile 22, he held a minute and half lead on Robinson, who Vassallo eventually caught and passed to claim second place.

The last 2 miles, Ryan Eiler knew the record was his. 

“I knew I had the course record at that point. I said something to my brother and he confirmed that,” he said. 

Despite being funneled into a narrow path along the Back Cove where the road is under construction, Eiler maintained his pace as he flew by slower runners finishing the half marathon. 

Kevin Woodhouse, an official race cyclist, pulled ahead of Eiler to clear the way of runners, in some cases, just in the nick of time.  


By the time Eiler hit pavement again, he was still running strong. Then with just a quarter mile to go, he finally started to slow, but still waved to a cheering fan with his index finger signaling victory.

“By then the wheels came off,” said Eiler.

Vassallo, who ran at Colby College, said if his course record from 2012 was going to fall, he’s glad it was claimed by someone who ran a strong race.

“I was two seconds off my PR from 10 years ago,” Vassallo said. “(Eiler) deserves all the credit. He ran a great race. ” 

The women’s race proved more of a back-and-forth contest with the lead changing between Gaudrault and Pietrzyk several times on the way out on Route 88 in Falmouth. 

“The first half the headwind was blasting,” Gaudrault said. “The first 2 miles was the worst. I didn’t look at my watch on the way out. But when I crossed the (half marathon) mark, I finally looked down and it was 1:25 and I knew I was feeling pretty good and I’d  have a tailwind behind me on the way back.”


At Mile 19, Gaudrault claimed the lead one final time, putting 10 seconds between her and Pietrzyk, a former All-American cross country runner at Vanderbilt. Gaudrault quickly extended that lead to 30 seconds. 

“At mile 18 she caught me again and I thought, ‘This is it.’ So I put in another surge and the next thing, I was 15 second ahead. I didn’t look back,” said Gaudrault, a nursing student at at the University of New England who improved her best time by four minutes.

The winners collected $1,000 and Eiler received an extra $500 for his course record.

The half marathon was won by Nick Matteucci, 24, of St. Louis, Missouri, with a time of 1:06.13, while Aaron Willingham, 25, of Portland, finished a second back in 1:07.17. 

The women’s half marathon was won by Alyson Ursiny, 34, of Yarmouth in a time of 1:18.24, while Veronica Graziano, 35, of Falmouth took second in 1:20.38. Ursiny is a past Maine women’s champion in the Beach to Beacon and Graziano is a 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. 

The race served as a fundraiser with $60,000 in proceeds going to four beneficiaries: Through These Doors, World of Change, Stop Trafficking US, and Wayfinder Schools.

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