ROCKLAND — For decades, the Great International Lobster Crate Race has been a family-friendly event and on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 7 — even after lightning and heavy rain forced a rare 30-minute suspension of the popular activity — it turned into a true family affair.

That is because, when more than 90 competitors, big and small, young and old, from all parts of the world (Oklahoma to California to Colorado to Texas to Austria to Ireland), attempted to cross the 50 wooden lobster crates strung float to float across inner Rockland Harbor, two brothers proved king and prince of the crustacean crusades.

Alden Harjula, 7, bails out the boat as Clayton Witham pushes it back to the dock after the two tipped over. Photo by Ken Waltz

While the event’s record of 6,500 crossed crates was not challenged on a day in which the air temperature was more than 90, with high humidity, and water temperature 68, it was nice to again see hundreds of enthusiastic spectators line the seawall and docks to watch, cheer and laugh during the 75th celebration of the Maine Lobster Festival.

The festival had been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but was back, in all its glory Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 3-7.

And on Sunday afternoon, despite a delay about halfway through the crate race due to lightning and a downpour, Aiden and Kobe Genthner of Owls Head stole the spotlight.

Aiden, 12, finished first with 2,522 crates crossed, while Kobe, 9, ended with 1,798. Aiden was the overall winner and the siblings finished first and second in the featherweight division.

Ultimately, as always, racers came, leapt, ran and, ultimately, splashed.

Abby Waterman. Photo by Ken Waltz

All of them. With no exceptions. Got wet.

Thus is the nature of the always-popular lobster crate race.

The fleet-of-feet event was held on the final day of the festival on the city’s waterfront.

Additionally, Parker Kennedy, 11, of Wallingford, Conn. finished first at 195 crates and Mikey O’Hara Damon, 13, of Owls Head second at 108 in the lightweight division; Dylan Sullivan, 17, of Walpole, Mass. was first at 77 and Kent Weymouth, 21, second at 47 in the medium weight division; and Lukas Loschner of Austria had nine crates and James Carmichael, 39, of Norman, OK. seven as tops in the supersize division.

This year, participants ranged ages 5 to 56.

As is tradition, the reigning Sea Goodess and Crown Princess tried their hand — make that feet — at the gauntlet of crates. Sea Goddess Olivia Dougherty finished with six and Crown Princess Mareh Willis two.

Interestingly, three years ago, the last time the crate race was held, Aiden Genthner was 9 and finished second at 1,689. This year, three years older, stronger and wiser, he won with 2,522 crates.

Olivia Dougherty, 2022 Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess. Photo by Ken Waltz

The event attracts competitors from all over the world (and a bundle of locals) as hot, humid conditions greeted the hardy souls who attempted the journey across the crates.

There were no records challenged on this day. There were plenty of short trips — and cold splashes into Penobscot Bay — for many, with a few extended treks across the crates.

Contestants participated in four divisions: Featherweight (up to 75 pounds), lightweight (76-125), medium weight (126-175) and supersize or heavyweight (176 and heavier).

Olivia Breen. Photo by Ken Waltz

Often youth, quick feet and not much body weight is the key to success. It is a balancing act that takes lightning-quick feet, athleticism, never-quit attitude and stamina.

Often crate-race participants wear flamboyant outfits, or at least creatively-designed socks.

It was a picture-perfect summer day to run the crates and, for most, more likely than not, to take an unexpected — but should-have-been-expected — dip in the always chilly waters of Penobscot Bay.

Avoiding that fall was the quest of one and all, the fast and slow, big and small, young and old.

Aiden Genthner, 2020 lobster crate race champion. Photo by Ken Waltz

The slower one goes, the more the crates sink under their weight and makes the participant feel as if they are on the road to nowhere — seemingly in quick sand. The lighter weight runners often do the best because they stay on top of the wooden crates.

The task for the contestants was to jump off a slippery dock and traverse 50 lobster crates about 150 feet away. And repeat.

On the journey, some runners can become tipsy, topsy and turvy before they go splash.

A year older and a little heavier also usually are added obstacles for the youngsters who return year after year to try their luck at the watery gauntlet.

Kobe Genthner, 2020 lobster crate race runner-up. Photo by Ken Waltz

After completing 500 crates each earlier in the competition, participants are given a break, but return later to keep running the crates. Then, at the end of the competition, the remaining participants — those who have not fallen, have a runoff, or showdown, as the Genthner brothers did on Sunday.

As the official Maine Lobster Festival program states, “Lobster crate racing requires speed, quick feet, balance and, above all else, the ability to withstand a dunking in the chilly Maine waters, since most competitors do end up in the drink.”

Inevitably, exhaustion takes over and the water wins.

The event is organized by Sy and Alex Knight, with plenty of help from the rest of the Knight family, most notably, Celia.

Five-year-old Chase Nichols. Photo by Ken Waltz

The individual results from Sunday’s event, with name of participant, age, residence and number of crates crossed listed (when all that information is available), were: Olivia Dougherty, 6; Mareh Willis, 17, Owls Head, 2; Mike Salaices, 39, Menden, Mass., 4; Kayden Malloy, 12, Matinicus, 6; Victoria Salaices, 30, Menden, Mass., 7; William Malloy, 12, Matinicus, 8; James Carmichael, 39, Norman, OK., 7; Dylan Sullivan, 17, Walpole, Mass., 77; Avery Carmichael, 11, Norman, OK., 10; Maci Carmichael, Norman, OK., 94; Jacoby Oakes Gray, 9, Thomaston, 5; Paige Murray, 15, Philadelphia, Pa., 8; Catherine Daly, 16, Grotton, Mass., 58; Kaya Maguire, 19, Rolling Hills, Calf., 10; Caitlyn Wylie, 16, Limerick, Pa., 9, Tyler Wylie, 13, Limerick, Pa., 10; Michael Corriveau, 14, Rockland, 63; Phinn Oliver, 13, Rockland, 2; Brian Corriveau, 44, Rockland, 13; Curt Hunnewell, 47, Morrison, Colo., 8; Aida Hunnewell, 12, Morrison, Colo., 4; Paxton Hunnewell, 11, Morrison, Colo., 6; Corbin Flanders, 13, Rockland, 5; Riley Nichols, 9, Owls Head, 6; Chase Nichols, 5, Owls Head, 83; Parker Kennedy, 11, Wallingford, Conn., 195; Caden Kennedy, 16, Wallingford, Conn., 8; Joey MacMillan, 19, Kennett Square, Pa., 4; Aydan Moores, 15, Warren, 8; Tom Moores, 48, Warren, 5; Charley Hall, 10, South Thomaston, 8; Kenzi Hooper, 8, South Thomaston, 5; Harper Kenniston, 9, Owls Head, 72; John MacMillan Sr., 56, Thomaston, 5; Mikey O’Hara Damon, 13, Owls Head, 108; Abby Waterman, 17, South Thomaston, 15; Brandon Roberts, 29, Waldoboro, 34; Easton Mullen, 9, Oakland, 4; Isabella Lindsey, 10, South Thomaston, 4; Griffin Williamson, 12, Rockland, 291; Elizabeth Emery, 8, Bangor, 3; Lulu Williamson, 8, Rockland, 5; Toby Williamson, 49, Rockland, 8; Madison Barrows, 11, Northport, 8; Paisley Hayslip, 12, Northport, 78; Murphy Staples, 6, Rockland, 4; Finnegan Staples, 6, Rockland, 1; Adelaide Staples, 9, Rockland, 6; Erik MacMillan, 31, Rockland, 5; Ryuu Royle, 10, Swanville, 3; Bryce Courville, 12, Midlothian, Va., 4; Isabella Mitchell, 11, Dallas, Texas, 8; Lukas Loschner, 38, Austria, 9; Emmett Soderberg, 10, Moodis, Conn., 2; Cole Soderberg, 12, Moodis, Conn., 5; Aiden Genthner, 12, Owls Head, 2,522; Kobe Genthner, 9, Owls Head, 1,798; Victoria Diaz, 41, New Haven, Conn., 4; Marvin Loschner, 25, Austria, 15; Jason Pianta, 45, Essex, Conn., 4; Owen Smith, 13, Carmel, 16; Reid Robishaw, 12, South Thomaston, 56; Olivia Breen, 11, Owls Head, 5; Vincent Loschner, 9, Austria, 4; Kace Galley, 12, Owls Head, 7; Lauralie Parent, 12, Owls Head, 7; Laiken Parent, 14, Owls Head, 98; Akash Turner, 11, Flowermound, Texas, 3; Blake Monroe, 9, Owls Head, 6; Sam Annable, 27, Brunswick, 8; Sean Gifford, 17, Rossville, Ga., 7; Gianna Rosenberger, 7, Mayfield Heights, Ohio, 6; Abi Grohs, 16, Great Falls, Mont., 8; Kevin Wippel, 33, Pine Bush, N.Y., 4; Clay Fowlie, 9, Owls Head, 3; Sullivan Chidester, 8, Huntersville, N.C., 18; Summer Chidester, 13, Huntersville, N.C. 4; Eliza Chidester, 40, Hunterville, N.C., 3; Devon Chidester, 42, Huntersville, N.C., 5; Matthew Jordan, 20, West Chester, Pa., 4; Benjamin Jordan, 22, West Chester, Pa., 4; Aiden Harjula, 7, South Thomaston, 21; Maivis Evans, 11, Minneapolis, Minn., 280; Eric Smith, 43, Thomaston, 7; Lynn Emerson, 29, Brooklyn, N.Y. (and Ireland), 5; Matthew Bodman, 14, Owls Head, 97; Kent Weymouth, 21, 47; Sarah Waterman, 40, South Thomaston, 7; Jen Dougherty Dobbyns, 50, Lynchburg, Va., 3; Kassidy Talbot, 22, Lynchburg, Va., 3; Keelyn Price, 11, Chestertown, Md., 4; Dustin Barrows, Jefferson, 5; Jade Street, 10, Rockland, 4; and Summer Knight, 6, Owls Head, 3.

Easton Mullen. Photo by Ken Waltz

As usual, there were a handful of Coast Guard participants: Jason Latiolias, 37, Lafayette, La., 8; David Koogler, 25, Thomaston, 4; David Norman, 19, Austin, Texas, 7; and Christopher Cordova, 18, Perry Fla., 6.

The event has been held since the mid-1970s when it got its start by the Atwoods in Spruce Head. It was its own event before becoming part of the Maine Lobster Festival.

History lesson

In 2019, Sean Griffith, 11, of Fairfax Station, Va. finished first with 2,965 crates.

In 2018, Lauren Jacobs, 20, of Los Altos, Calif., finished first with 1,397 crates.

Paxton Hunnewell. Photo by Ken Waltz

In 2017, Graidey O’Hanlon, 9, outdueled Scarlett Flint, 10, of Warren, the three-time defending champion and co-record holder. O’Hanlon crossed 905 crates and Flint 815.

Flint finished first the prior three years, crossing 1,500 crates in 2016 and record 6,500 in 2015.

Flint and Harrison Page, 9, of South Berwick, set the event’s all-time record with an amazing 6,500 crates apiece seven years ago. Flint was age 7 that year, then, at age 8, she finished first alone at 3,000 crates.

Finnegan Staples. Photo by Ken Waltz

Then, at the ripe old age of 9, Flint crossed 1,500 more crates to give her 11,000 total for three years of work — which essentially meant she had run about 6.25 miles over the water of Rockland Harbor during that time period.

She added 815 more in 2017 to bring her four-year total to 11,815 crates, perhaps the most of any one individual ever (although Connor McGonagle and Duncan Widdecombe crossed a bundle of crates in their heydays).

Seven years ago, Page and Flint dueled across the 6,500 crates. Darkness fell about six hours or so after the 2014 event began and officials halted the runs and declared both co-champions.

That event began at 2 p.m. and was “called” at 8 p.m. It was believed to be the longest crate race, in length of time, in history.

A rule for the event, which often includes entire families trying their luck at running the lobster crate gauntlet, sped up the proceedings, namely, that if a competitor fell and landed on two knees or off the crates and into the water, their run was complete. If the competitor fell on the crates and only one knee touched, they were allowed to continue.

The lighter competitors often fall on one or two knees and the crates do not sink, thus, in the past, it allowed those youngster to continue, even crawl on hands and knees, if they could.

Flint and Page proved, beyond a doubt, they were heavyweights at running the crates.

The two broke the previous record of 6,000 crates by McGonagle of Owls Head.

Several years ago, McGonagle set what was believed, at the time, an unbeatable standard with 6,000 crates, which surpassed the previous record of 4,501 by Andrew Bachiochi of Stafford Springs, Conn. in 2008.

McGonagle also brought the record for the Midcoast-created activity back to the area. Prior to Bachiochi holding the mark, the late Susan Lundquist, who grew up locally, held the mark of 3,007 for decades and Shane LeBlanc, another Midcoast native, held the record before her.

Bachiochi set the new standard in 2008 with 4,501 crates. And he really did not fall in the water, but simply stepped on the 4,501st crate and tossed himself into the ocean. At the time, Bachiochi surpassed the record of 3,007 set in the 1980s by Lundquist.

Now, Flint and Page share the mark with an impressive, eye-popping 6,500 crates.