She’s a theater kid whose mom is the most passionate runner in the family.

He’s an ultra-marathon aficionado who decided to add a marathon to a wedding weekend.

Emma Howe of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Brandon Talisesky of New York City both wound up wearing laurel wreaths and clutching $1,000 checks Sunday morning as champions of the 31st Gorham Savings Bank Maine Marathon.

“It was beautiful,” said Howe, 27. “It was hot at the end, gorgeous at the beginning.”

Indeed, runners of the Marathon, Half Marathon and Marathon Relay headed north from Portland’s Back Cove a little before 8 a.m. amid a pleasant temperature of 53 degrees. By noon the mercury climbed another 10 degrees, but Howe and Talisesky already had completed their journeys to Yarmouth and back along Routes 1 and 88.

Although the three concurrent races attracted a record number of registrants (4,114), the actual number of runners fell short of previous highs. Sunday’s event included 907 marathon finishers (the 2014 race had 1,018) and 1,780 half marathon finishers (shy of the 2,039 who ran in 2019). This year’s event also included 150 marathon relay teams, made up of nearly 600 individual runners.


Talisesky, 32, registered for the race only because he already planned to attend a wedding Saturday in New Gloucester. The past five overall winners each had finished faster than two and a half hours, so figured he might wind up fifth or sixth Sunday.

But when the half marathoners turned around in Falmouth, the crowd thinned considerably. Then the leading relay teams changed runners, and Talisesky realized the marathon race was between him and Joe Satterfield of Bowdoinham.

They chatted briefly around Mile 11 and then settled in quietly for the next seven or eight miles, trading the lead several times before Talisesky pulled away following the last significant hill, near Mussel Cove in Falmouth.

Satterfield, 46, only started running seven years ago as a training partner for his son, Grady, who starred at Mt. Ararat High in Topsham and now runs at Providence College. Daughter Carly, a junior pole vaulter at Mt. Ararat, chased her father around the course on an e-bike Sunday morning, handing him a water bottle every two miles.

“I’ve always told me kids to keep a string on (the lead runner),” Satterfield said. “That’s what I tried to do, and I am not disappointed. (Talisesky) deserves it. My hat’s off to him.”

Talisesky continued to widen the gap and never looked back after reaching Route 1,  crossing the Martin’s Point Bridge and making his way through Payson Park and around Baxter Boulevard before reaching the finish line in 2 hours, 34 minutes, 53 seconds.


It was his first victory in a marathon, although he has won races of 50 kilometers, 50 miles and 100 miles.

“My strategy was just to try to relax as long as I can,” Talisesky said. “It helps to have people out there when you’re racing, towards the end of the event, because it can be pretty tough. So it was nice to have Joe there.”

Satterfield wound up earning $800 for second place, in 2:36:35, and picked up another $250 as the first masters runner. On the inside of his bib was written the name of his mom, Brenda Jacobs.

“That one’s for my mother,” said Satterfield, his voice choked with emotion in the finish chute. “I lost her two weeks ago to breast cancer.”

Robert Ashby, 55, of Brunswick was third overall in 2:38:46. He and Satterfield train together and last year Satterfield placed fifth and Ashby seventh, in a race that saw Ryan Eiler set a course record of 2:19:19.

Sunday’s course was altered slightly, with two addition dips toward the ocean into neighborhoods in Falmouth and Cumberland. That extra distance allowed organizers to eliminate a dirt turnaround in Yarmouth.


Christine Hein, 48, of North Yarmouth applauded the change. She’s a former winner of both the half and full Maine Marathon, and placed third on Sunday behind Howe (2:48:56) and Tara Bozzini (2:52:30).

“I loved it,” Hein said. “Turning is hard for me. It was way better to go along the water and see people cheering along the way.”

The women’s race was never in question. Howe opened a gap of more than two minutes by Mile 8 and Bozzini – also 27 and hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts – never got closer.

Howe grew up in Indiana, where her dad was a cyclist and her mom a runner. Cathy Howe, now 66, and her husband moved to York three years ago because she’s a seascape artist and always wanted to live near the ocean.

“I ran with (Emma in the womb) up until the day I had her,” said Cathy Howe, 66, who still runs daily. “Never did I dream she would be a marathoner.”

Indeed, Emma gravitated toward theater, landing a lead role in “Les Miserables” in high school and performing in “Big Love” at Boston College. She has appeared in an off-Broadway play called “Paper Planes.”


On Sunday she had a group of 10 friends and family members, including her grandfather, supporting her throughout the race.

“It was great until the last 5K, and then I started to feel bad,” Howe said. “But I don’t think I dropped in pace too much. The course is beautiful. The newly-paved roads are great. It’s hilly. I’m tired.”

In the Half Marathon, Jesse Orach of Auburn won the men’s division by more than a minute in 1:08:41 and Veronica Graziano of Falmouth won the women’s division by nearly two minutes in 1:18:43.

Zdeno Chara, the former Boston Bruins captain, completed the marathon (his third overall and second in just over a week) in 3:23:19. Eight days earlier, Chara ran 3:27 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


“To challenge myself,” said the 6-foot-9-inch ex-hockey player, who ran alongside the more petite Becca Pizzi of Belmont, Massachusetts. They ran together at this spring’s Boston Marathon, where Chara clocked a 3:38 in his marathon debut.

“He’s found his new sport,” Pizzi said. “He’s so approachable, he’s so fun and he puts in the work.”

The Wyoming race completed Pizzi’s quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states. Sunday marked her 105th marathon. She said Chara, 46, has a chance to break 3:20 at the New York City Marathon next month.

“He’s really coachable,” she said. “He does exactly what you tell him to do, so he’s a joy to be around.”

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