MOUNT DESERT — A local varsity coach and biathlete is set to attempt an arduous athletic endeavor for a good cause.
Aaron Long, head outdoor track coach and assistant cross-country coach at Mount Desert Island High School, will be attempting what he is calling the “Acadia Ponds and Trails Swim Run” this weekend. The roughly 19–mile journey will take Long across Mount Desert Island to raise money for the Mount Desert Nursery School.
On Sunday, Long, who is also Mount Desert Nursery School’s executive director, will run the first leg of the trip from the MDI High School track to Mount Desert Campground. From there, he will traverse a stretch that includes Somes Sound, Somes Pond, Long Pond, Camp Beach Cliff on Echo Lake and Mile Rock before concluding his journey in Seal Cove.
Long had originally planned for the “swim run” to be held as the Acadia Islands Swim Run, an offshore excursion that included stretches of Bear, Sutton, Little Cranberry, Great Cranberry and Greening islands. But with Hurricane Teddy producing slightly colder ocean temperatures around MDI, he decided a mainland-oriented route would provide a much safer passage.
“I’m going to squeeze in just a little bit of saltwater leaving from Mount Desert Campground,” Long said of his newly planned route. “That way, I still get some of the ocean before moving to the slightly warmer freshwater lakes and ponds nearby.”
Long has been preparing for the swim run for what he called “quite some time.” His past endeavors have included numerous triathlons as well as a 100-mile bike ride on the Downeast Sunrise Trail from Ellsworth to Eastport over the summer.
Although he won’t be doing the 5 miles of ocean swimming as originally planned, Long is still anticipating a demanding trip across the island. The route, he said, will include “roughly 1,600 vertical feet of climbing and moving over some pretty technical terrain.”
“In a lot of ways, this may end up being more challenging,” Long said. “Hopefully people still see it as a pretty intense undertaking worth rallying behind and still feel encouraged to donate to MDNS.”
On Sunday, Mount Desert Nursery School will be tracking Long’s progress live at mountdesertnurseryschool.com/acadia-islands-swimrun. Tracking will go live at 10 a.m.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Long had raised $1,300 of his $2,000 goal. Donations can be made on the Mount Desert Nursery School website.