Under the Radar Races: Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay

AJW looks at the old-school simplicity that makes the Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay such a unique event.

By on May 3, 2024 | Comments

AJW's Taproom[Author’s Note: This article is the fifth in an 11-part series in AJW’s Taproom celebrating under-the-radar races.]

Taking place yearly on the second weekend in May, the Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay runs entirely on the rugged and beautiful trails of Androscoggin Riverlands State Park in Turner, Maine.

The state’s first 100 miler, Riverlands consists of four 25-mile loops and has a 32-hour cutoff. The accompanying relay event does five laps on a slightly shorter 20-mile loop that teams of five have 32 hours to cover. The event is intentionally small and capped at 80 solo runners and 12 relay teams.

Co-race director Valerie Abradi says, “Our race is small, and over the course of race weekend, every runner becomes our people. We get to know them through the laps and share in their journeys. Our race is deceptively hard. The elevation gain is nothing daunting, but there is nothing flat. Our singletrack is truly New England technical, but the runners don’t even get much of a break on the ATV [all-terrain vehicle] sections. It is not like a golf cart path, but rugged, rocky, and full of foot-grabbing, toe-stubbing rocks.”

Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay - aid station at night

The low-key vibe at the Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay makes it a community-oriented and unique event. All photos courtesy of Valerie Abradi.

Abradi notes the atmosphere at the aid stations makes the race special. “Our aid stations are staffed by trail runners who know the terrain and understand what the runners do. Even runners who have to drop make sure to find us to say how wonderful our aid stations are. Maybe our race is old school and small, but we like it like that!”

Additionally, Abradi takes pride in the relay event, saying, “We originally added the relay thinking we might not get that many solo runners for a few years. Once we did reach our max, we couldn’t bring ourselves to eliminate the relay. It’s like the gateway drug to ultras for many, but also the longest run or first time running through the night for others. We love the energy and camaraderie the relay runners bring to the event.”

As with any ultra, big or small, Riverlands has faced its fair share of obstacles. For example, this past year, as occasionally happens to New England events, a landowner claimed a section of the course was on his land and closed it to public use. At that point, Abradi and the co-race director Mindy Slovinski sprang into action.

“Through a lot of effort on our part and good cooperation from the state, we were given permission to build a new trail. It is really hard to make a new trail through the woods where years of fallen trees have made a mess of the forest. Fortunately, Trail Monster Running is a dedicated group who put all the sweat and effort in to cut, clear, and rake the trail, finishing just in time for the race this year.”

Additionally, the spring weather in northern New England is famously unpredictable. Organizers have faced snow one year and 90-plus-degree Fahrenheit temperatures the next.

Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay runner briefing

Runners receive a pre-race briefing from the co-race directors.

Abradi and her team maintain their low-key, community-oriented vibe by keeping the race small and involving members of their Trail Monster Running club in the event. In addition, they rely heavily on their partnership with the local ATV club.

Abradi says, “We probably could not stage the race without the support of the Turner Timberland ATV Club. Mindy and I went to one of their meetings before we’d even figured out our race. They were so curious and into it! Besides bringing all our gear to our aid station in the middle of the course, they ferry supplies, volunteers, and runners through the entire event. They also do all the trail work on the ATV trail. Last year, when we had five inches of rain just a few days before the race, they were out doing drainage work for us.”

In a day and age where trail user groups sometimes find themselves at odds with one another, Abradi and her team have cultivated a strong relationship with all of the user groups in the park, and, as a result, are able to run a simple, successful event.

The 2024 Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay takes place on May 10 and 11 and is currently filled to capacity. If a small, grassroots, community-oriented event seems right for you in 2025, get “off the radar” and head up to Maine. You won’t be disappointed.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Maine Beer Company in Freeport, Maine.

Mo is a simple and delicious American pale ale brewed in the classic tradition of early American craft beers. Crisp and slightly tart, Mo combines a fruity mouthfeel with a rich, piney finish to hit all the high notes of a well-balanced pale ale.

Call for Comments

  • Do you have a favorite “off the radar” race?
  • What makes your local race stand out from the rest?
Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay - aid station and volunteers

The Riverlands 100 Mile and Relay is small enough that everyone gets to know each other over the weekend.

Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.