MILLINOCKET (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Runners braved single digit temps Saturday morning for the annual Millinocket marathon and half marathon.

"The cold seems to be a pattern but it is December," said Brewer resident Rick Johnson, who summers in Millinocket.

Every year, Johnson spends marathon day with his friend, Millinocket resident Fred Herring and his family.

Herring's granddaughter is a marathon, and Millinocket marathon, veteran.

The duo were on the sidewalk cheering her on in her third Millinocket marathon.

It’s the only marathon in the region free of charge to all runners.

The event, now in its fourth year, is held to benefit the town where it takes place.

All that is asked of the runners and their families is to support the town while in the area for the marathon, whether by staying at a local inn, doing some holiday shopping, or dining at one of the restaurants downtown.

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"It brings a lot of business into town," said Herring. "I mean, the stores are busting out so it's good. Good stuff."

"The town has had some down years and when you get a day like this it just brings it back to life," added Johnson. "People come from all over the place and it's just a fun environment and it's great for the community."

Runners and spectators were certainly in the holiday spirit Saturday, with dozens decked out in ugly Christmas sweaters, Santa hats, and bells.

Santa himself even made an appearance in the center of town.

Others were so cold being outside, they wore full snowmobile suits to watch the runners.

According to organizers, the event began in 2015 as a way to help the struggling mill town, after its largest employer shut its doors.

The marathon "gets the word out that Millinocket is a fun place to be," said Johnson.

"We're still living here," exclaimed Herring.

Still living and still running.