LEWISTON — More than 1,300 runners took to the streets of Lewiston and Auburn Sunday for the Museum L-A's Bands on the Run 5k and half-marathon.
The scene at the finish line at Simard-Payne Memorial Park resembled a carnival, with tents from local businesses, a kids obstacle course, food and a beer garden that attracted many visitors seeking to escape the heat and humidity.
Local band the Poprocks played as runners crossed the finish line. Anna Hunnewell of New Gloucester, not satisfied to merely run the 5k portion of the race, took the stage to belt out Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."
Andrew Pulka of Bangor crossed the line, collected his medal and tried to recover from the 13.1-mile run. "It was tough," Pulka said. "I mean, I played softball yesterday — probably didn't help."
As Pulka struggled to catch his breath, he said he didn't know what the medal was for when he crossed the line, but he was looking forward to visiting the beer garden.
Natasha Leighton of Turner and Debbie Moreau of Greene were recovering mid-field. "We're running buddies," Moreau said, adding that the pair will be attending an obstacle course race in Montreal next week.
"I think this year felt harder because there was more trail — it slows you a little," Leighton said.
Although they attended a wedding Saturday night, the pair were not slowed down, with Leighton finishing fifth in the women's category and Moreau placing third.
Speaking of her friend's third-place ranking in the women's category, Leighton joked, "She's older and faster."
The Portland Pirate's mascot, Salty Pete, was on hand, giving out freebies to the children. When asked if he had participated in the race, Pete wobbled his head, first up and down, then side to side, finally in a circle.
When asked if he could be quoted, he repeated the gesture and handed a kid a Pirates cup.
Cerise Humphrey of Parsonsfield said she picked up running about three years ago and finds the atmosphere of these events addicting.
Humphrey said, "It was a lot harder than I thought, but it was good." She said she was happy she exceeded her expected time, finishing 70th overall.
An ICU nurse at Central Maine Medical Center, Humphrey said she found out about the race from a flier at work.
"One of the reasons (for running), I want to take care of myself to be an example to my patients." Humphrey plans to run the Maine Half Marathon this year as well.
As Humphrey spoke, a man in a moose costume sailed past the finish, foam antlers sweeping back as he ran.
The moose, Dave Jackiewiecz, is a regular costumed fixture at running events. "It's tough," Jackiewiecz said, "I didn't expect all the hills."
Jackiewiecz said his costume caused him some concern once when he was running during hunting season without a vest.
He plans to run the Beach to Beacon race dressed as a lighthouse in August.
Coordinator Gina Catterson was pleased with the turnout for this second-year effort.
Catterson said that last year a total of 820 runners were registered. This year, she said there were 1,100 online registrants and at least another 200 race day, with runners registered from Sweden, Canada and all over the United States.
The Bands on the Run concept, Catterson said, began with the museum putting together a committee of runners and asking them one question, "If you were going to make a perfect run, how would you do it?"
According to Catterson, the runners wanted music to accompany the race. Local bands, as well as Full Circle from New Hampshire donated their time and talent to make the event festive and entertaining.
Bands were chosen and placed throughout the race so runners could hear different genres of music throughout the run.
Catterson said the money raised will go to children's programs, such as the Maker's Fair, future exhibits and building-preservation efforts.