Real-life, virtual journey on Down East Sunrise Trail raises funds for charity

Won’t you virtually join Jennifer Popper as she approaches the Down East Sunrise Trail in real life, to raise more than $15,000 in memory of her husband Michael, for the East Coast Greenway Alliance and FreeWalkers?

virtual race

Jennifer Popper nears the Down East Sunrise Trail in real life, as she comes close to completing her more than 800-mile journey north to raise more than $15,000 in memory of her husband Michael. Register now to join the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race and virtually follow part of her journey north, no matter where in the world you log your walking, hiking or running miles. (Image courtesy of

We added the Ellsworth to Gouldsboro section of the Down East Sunrise Trail to the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race in support of Jenn’s journey north. The Down East Sunrise Trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, and also the setting of Maine’s only all-night relay, Down East Sunrise Trail Relay, which had its fifth running last weekend.

A couple of days ago, as part of her more than 800-mile journey north on foot from New Jersey, Jenn was joined by her cousin and her cousin’s daughter outside Belfast. As she approaches Gouldsboro on or around Aug. 1, she’ll be joined by her husband’s cousin, Chris Popper, director of sports programming at WDEA AM1370, and a fellow virtual racer, @FL2ME, and perhaps others.

It will be an emotional time for Jenn as she nears Gouldsboro, as that is where she and her husband summered in Maine for more than 10 years, and near where they started their fateful kayak trip in June 2016.

Jennifer Popper includes this photo of her and her husband Michael in a video to raise funds for charity in his memory. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Popper)

Michael and a veteran kayak tour guide died when their kayaks capsized in 52-degree waters off Corea during a surprise front that caused high waves. Jenn’s kayak also tipped over but she survived after being found by a lobsterman who was among those searching for the kayakers.

Won’t you virtually join @jennsjourney as a virtual racer in the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race not only to show your support for her, but also to help raise funds for the Acadia and Millinocket-area charities officially benefiting from the race?

Register now, and you can backdate your miles to July 20.

Read more about Jenn’s journey here.

Proud to co-sponsor the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race with Mount Desert Island Marathon and Millinocket Marathon & Half as the virtual edition of the Sea to Summit Series. Racers signed up for the real-life MDI or Millinocket races get special virtual race pricing.

Register now, and you can backdate miles to July 20. (Image courtesy of

Between now and Dec. 8, racers are virtually heading over the 26 peaks of Acadia, along the real-life MDI and Millinocket Marathon & Half routes, passing by the offices of the 3 charities officially benefiting from this virtual race, skirting by at least 6 sites associated with Stephen King, and finishing on Katahdin, the highest point in the great state of Maine.

Log your walking, running or hiking miles anywhere in the world, and see your race avatar move along the virtual race map, getting a Google Street View, if available, for the place you land for the day.

Everyone who enters the virtual race earns this 3″ gold medal featuring raised profiles of Katahdin and the Bubbles, made by the same company that makes the medals for the Boston and MDI Marathons. (Photo courtesy of Ashworth Awards)

Earn a gold medal with a raised profile of the Bubbles and Katahdin, featuring a red satin ribbon that says “Acadia to Katahdin Finisher.” Medal is made by Ashworth Awards, the same company that makes the MDI and Boston Marathon medals. Race is powered by Racery: Virtual Challenges.

At least 5% of gross proceeds go to benefit Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library and Our Katahdin. Last year’s Cadillac to Katahdin race raised $800 for the three charities combined.

Everyone is a winner, even if you can’t complete the 338-mile course by Dec. 8.

That’s because everyone who signs up will be helping to benefit charity, will earn the special Acadia to Katahdin Medallion, and will be entered into giveaways of Acadia, Millinocket and Stephen King-themed gifts.

Details of medal’s red satin ribbon


Join the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race

What are virtual races, you ask? They let people from anywhere in the USA or the world sign up to run, hike, walk, snowshoe, cross-country ski or log other forms of miles, whether to raise funds for charity, earn a finisher’s medallion or just set a fitness goal. Races can include technology-driven virtual routes that allow participants to see their progress, get a Google photo of their virtual location and check out the competition online, such as in the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race. Or it can be as simple as allowing people to record their mileage via the honor system in order to get a medal in the mail. There are different themes for virtual races with medals, and even Disney runs them. Check out what a virtual racer experience can be like in this short video by, which hosts our races on its online platform.

  1. Sign up with your name and e-mail at this registration page
  2. The race starts on July 20 and ends Dec. 8
  3. You can track your daily miles any way you like, and can backdate them to July 20
  4. Log your miles on the race page
  5. Racery will keep track of fun stats like your total mileage and miles per week
Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

About Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

Dolores Kong and Dan Ring are co-authors of the Falcon guides Hiking Acadia National Park and Best Easy Day Hikes Acadia National Park, and also blog at They’ve backpacked the 270-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, and are members of the Northeast 111 Club, having hiked all major peaks of the Northeast. Dolores is a former staff reporter at The Boston Globe. Dan is a journalist and former Statehouse bureau chief in Boston for the old Ottaway News Service and for The Republican, the daily newspaper for Springfield, Mass. They are married and live in New England.