How does a group of Mainers help Malawian children while in New Orleans? It sounds like a bizarre riddle, but, in fact, that scenario played out this weekend.

On Friday, a group of Midcoast athletes boarded a plane heading to New Orleans where they ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon on Sunday to support the Little Field Home, an orphanage in Malawi, Africa.

The New Orleans marathon and half-marathon group included Steph Brown, Steph Almasi, Andrew Bonarrigo, Russ Wolfertz, Karen Sprague, Lucas Brower, Josh Miramant, all of whom are Midcoast residents; Ian Cross, Janet Littlefield and Bill Flynn of Hebron; Missy Rockenbaugh and her son, Stephen, of New Orleans; and Mukhaye Muchimuti of Bath.

The Friends of the Little Field Home support an orphanage in Chigamba Village in Malawi, a facility founded by Janet Littlefield, a native of Union and Medomak Valley High School graduate. The local runners want to help provide food, medicine, education and support to that organization.

According to Reade Brower of Camden, a member of the organization’s board of directors, the members of Team Little Field collected more than $23,000 during the marathon fundraiser. Some of the money has been raised by Reade Brower and others by holding local road races.

There were 3,509 finishers in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and 9,300 finishers in the half-marathon.

For Team Little Field, the marathon results were: 530th, Miramant, 3:41:33; 629th, Brown, 3:50:11; 1,845th, Reade Brower, 4:34:08; 2,579th, Almasi, 5:07.27; and 3,220th, Wolfertz, 5:55:49.

For Team Little Field, the half-marathon results were: 237th, Cross, 1:35:20; 1,319th, Bonarrigo, 1:53.12; 1,362nd, Lucas Brower, 1:53.30; 2,418th, Muchimuti, 2:02:32; 3,852nd, Littlefield, 2:13:28; 5,229th, Stephen Rockenbaugh, 2:23.56; 5,237th, Flynn, 2:24:01; and 6,994th, Missy Rockenbaugh, 2:44:35.

Almasi ran the race with her longtime friend, co-worker, and running partner Brown.

“I think it’s nice to do something that’s just bigger than yourself,” Almasi said about the race and why she is doing it.

Almasi said she has been running for about three years and that Brown has been a runner most of her life, but neither has run a marathon.

“I’m excited,” Almasi said the Thursday before the race. “There are two sides to it. I’m excited to do something different for myself and also it’s not just for myself; its something else, Something more important …”

Almasi had raised more than $2,000 dollars for the trip and the home before the race. Part of the money she raised through personal efforts such as bottle collecting, races, gift wrapping and other such fundraisers. That money will be spent on the trip.

However, most of the funds have been given through donations and will support the Little Field Home.

Reade Brower added that each runner had been asked to raise at least $1,800 for the trip and the cause; a total most have exceeded.

Almasi said that around October, Reade Brower approached her to run in the marathon. This wasn’t the first time he had asked; he had tried to get her to do a previous race but she declined.

Reade Brower had organized a similar event last year in Death Valley with seven starting runners that managed to raise more than $30,000.

The total — $30,000 — is an important number and a goal for this year, as well, because that can feed the children in the orphanage for a year.

This year, however, Almasi said Brown wanted to participate. So between Reade Brower’s and Brown’s pleas, she agreed.

When asked what interested her in doing the marathon, Almasi said, “Not much, because it’s going to be kind of long, but I just thought it would be something for a good cause and something to do; keep me busy for the winter. Something fun.”

Reade Brower likes the idea of running to raise funds. “Running is such a social sport and it’s much more fun to do it as a group and I like the fact that people feel empowered,” he said.

He also cited why Miramant joined the cause. “He jumped on it because he liked the piece about doing it for a greater purpose than himself,” Brower said, adding that many of the runners feel the same way.

Reade Brower said he thought New Orleans was an appropriate place to race for the cause “because we felt like that city could use the money, could use our support even though there [are] only 14 of us,” he said.

Not all the runners ran the full marathon, which is 26 miles and 385 yards. Some did the half-marathon, which was 13 miles. In fact only, Brown, Almasi, Wolfertz, Miramant and Reade Brower ran the full distance.

At first, Almasi was reluctant and a bit timid to run the 26.2 miles. “A couple months ago I was worried that I was going to die or fall over,” she said.

Since then she has trained for the race and feels more comfortable. “We’ve done the training so I’m pretty positive I will finish and do O.K,” she said.

She started a rigorous training program around November and finished a 22-mile practice close to the start of the race date.

However, a few days before the race, Almasi, who has never been to New Orleans and does not frequently travel far from home, was ready to go. “Now I guess I’m not really that nervous it’s just more anticipation,” she said on Thursday.

When there, though, she said she wanted to have some fun. Her plans included going on a river cruise, seeing the French Quarter, and going to see what the city claims to be the largest living oak trees.

As for most of the runners, Reade Brower said they were casual racers. He noted that Brown and Miramant were the only two using the race to qualify for times; both trying to get the opportunity to race in the Boston Marathon. “The rest of us are just running for our own personal goals. Mostly to finish,” he said.

The Friends of the Little Field Home will hold more fundraisers and races in the future. Those interested in helping to support the Little Field Home through donations or racing should contact Brower at reade@freepressonline.com.

Click to go to the Little Field Home website.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.