GARDINER — It turns out that even elite ultramarathon runners can run for fun, if they want.

On Saturday, the Gardiner Rotary Club’s Turkey Trot, a 5K run/walk fundraiser for Rotary International, drew about 50 people to the Gardiner Common.

Some came dressed for a run in the November cold weather with hats and gloves and wind shells for the pre-Thanksgiving event. Others came decked out in turkey regalia, from full suits, both regular and inflated, to runners kitted out with hats in the shape of roast turkey or tutus made to look like turkey feathers.

If it weren’t for the signs and banners in French, or the Gardiner City Council’s proclamation read by Mayor Patricia Hart declaring Saturday to be Katie Schide Day, casual observers might have missed Schide and her partner, Germain Grainger, standing and chatting with other participants before the start of the race.

Schide and Grainger are both ultramarathoners, and earlier this year, Schide — a native of Gardiner and Hart’s daughter — was the first woman and 22nd runner to cross the finish line at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a grueling race that covers more than 100 miles and an elevation gain of about 33,000 feet, in 23 hours, 15 minutes and 12 seconds.

This visit is Schide’s first to Gardiner in a couple of years, and it comes after the end of marathon season and just before the ski mountaineering season starts up in France, where she now lives.


“It’s always fun to come back and see the changes that happen over the years and get to see old friends and hang out with my parents,” Schide, 30, said.

Katie Schide, left, receives a city proclamation Saturday declaring it “Katie Schide Day,” along with a kiss on the cheek from her mother, Gardiner Mayor Pat Hart, before the start of the local Rotary Club’s Turkey Trot 5K run/walk at Gardiner Common. Over the summer, Schide was the first woman to finish in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a 106-mile race in the Alps. She resides in France and was back in her hometown for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Growing up, Schide played field hockey and ran in some 5K and 10K races, but looking back, she could not have predicted that she’d be where she is today.

“I always had goals, and I like having goals,” she said. “But those goals are never what actually happened. It doesn’t matter if you actually change the goal you are shooting for or it turns into something else, to have something that you’re always thinking about, that’s always motivating you and keeping you moving forward, that’s what can bring you to something else.”

During college, Schide worked summers in the Appalachian Mountain Club huts in New Hampshire where she and her friends would run between the huts to visit each other. They ran, she said, because less time in travel meant they could spend more time with each other.

It wasn’t until she moved to Salt Lake City that she realized what she had been doing was trail running, and her racing evolved from there.

Her next ski race is in January, and she’ll run a race in the spring, but her next big race is the Western States Endurance Run in California in June; it’s the biggest 100-mile race in the United States.


In the meantime, she and Grainger are checking the weather in Isola 2000, a ski resort town in the southern French Alps where they live, where the snow should start falling any day now, kicking off the skimo — or ski mountaineering — season during which competitors hike up mountains wearing skis and then ski down them.

“It’s difficult, but it’s really fun,” she said. “It lets you spend a lot of time outside because it takes longer than running.”

Saturday’s race route took participants, both runners and walkers on a two-lap loop, starting at the Gardiner Common, down Lincoln Avenue, across Cottage Street, up Dresden Avenue to Kingsbury and Dennis streets, then to School Street.

Nathan Mitchell, organizer for this year’s race, said about 28 people signed up in advance, but on race day, 54 were registered.

“It’s generally been a smaller event, compared to the bigger events around the state,” he said, in the days leading up to the race.

Ward Boudrea, left, was the first male finisher and Kelsey Barrett was the top female finisher Saturday in the Gardiner Rotary Club’s Turkey Trot 5K run/walk at Gardiner Common. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Those who wanted to run in the brisk morning temperatures ran. The first two competitors to cross the finish line posted times under 20 minutes. Ward Boudreau took top honors with a time of 19 minutes, 12 seconds, while Jeff Mansir completed the course with a time of 19:47.


Schide’s and Grainger’s time was not in the top five, as they ran a leisurely lap and then in their second lap caught up with Schide’s parents, who were walking the course and crossed the finish line with them.

“I managed my effort a bit so I could finish with my parents,” Schide said.

Fun aside, the Turkey Trot is a fundraiser for Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign, and Mitchell said it looks like the race was on track to raise about $1,000 between the $25 entry fee, donations and the 50-50 raffle.

“If we raised $1,000, it would be a good goal,” he said.

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