MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Running a marathon in Maine in December may not sound like a good time for some people, but for a man from Cranberry Island, it's the perfect time to show off Maine's beautiful scenery and help the local economy.

The Boston Marathon qualifier is unique, as it is free for runners. The idea blossomed after Gary Allen read an article about Maine's mills and how the closures devastated the communities.

"It sort of struck a chord with me and I couldn't unsee that, really, so I thought, 'I need to do what I can to help this community,'" he said.

There is no entry fee for the Millinocket Marathon. The only requirement is to spend money in town, supporting local businesses.

"It might not be a lot," Allen said, "but every little thing matter when times are rough."

And for small business owners, every penny counts. "For the store itself, if it wasn't for the marathon, we probably wouldn't be here," said Tricia Cyr, the owner of Moose Drop In.

Despite the fact that it's a marathon in Maine in December, it's attracted hundreds of runners from all 50 states. And for a town that lost its vibrancy when the mill shut its doors, this marathon will help bring the life back.

"Tossing a pebble in the pond and watching the ripples. That's exactly what he's done for Millinocket," town councilor Jesse Dumais said. "He's tossed a pebble in a pond and the ripple effect, hopefully, will give us a tremendous economic impact."

The marathon starts at 10 a.m. on Dec. 10.