(Bridgton ME) They were happy for the rain and the opportunity.
The 45th annual 4 on the Fourth road race started this morning in rain and 55 degrees temperature.
But the runners I talked to afterwards were happy with the weather and equally happy to finally get back to competitive racing again.
“This was the first real race I’ve done in six to eight months,” said this year’s winner Jesse Orach.
“The weather was nice,” he added. “It actually stopped raining as hard about halfway through the race. It was certainly nice to have it cooler than it’s been the last couple of weeks.”
Jesse’s time was 20:08. He finished alone with a nineteen-second spread over Luke Bailey.
Both Luke and Jesse were on the Bridgton course for the first time.
“I loved the course,” said Luke. “I didn’t think the hill was too bad. I loved the straightaway flat finish.”
Heather Gallant finished 20th which was first among the women. She was also new to the course.
“I almost missed the turn at Dugway Road but there were people there to redirect me,” she said.
“This is my first race since Covid and my leg injury,” she added. “It’s been 1 ½ years.”
But after the race everything turned out “good” for the runner from Wayne (Maine). “The temperature felt good. The rain felt good, and my leg feels good.”
Dominic Sclafani (Harrison Maine) chased Luke Bailey to the finish but lost out by a second.
Jesse Orach described the race this way: “I kind of pulled away in the first quarter mile. A couple of guys (Luke & Dominic) caught me in the middle. Down the last hill in Mile 3, I kind of pulled away.”
This was how Luke Bailey recalled the race: “The leader (Jesse Orach) took the lead super early covering the first mile in 4:46 he said afterwards. I caught him around the 2-mile mark and kind of chatted with him. We ran side by side up the second hill right before the 3-mile mark. I tried to make a move on him because I thought his legs had had it. He responded and I couldn’t recover. I just watched him pull away in the last mile.”
Both winners run for Dirigo.
“I had a lot of my Dirigo teammates with me,” said Heather.
Mary Pardi, also with Dirigo, was the second woman finisher.
The lack of organized races created uncertainty.
“I’ve been trying to stay in shape the best that I can,” said Jesse (Auburn Maine) who is twenty-seven. “I’m just trying to keep running as long as I can.”
Jesse was a heralded runner at UMaine. He told me that he ran there for five years and still holds the indoor 5K record.
Luke (22) is originally from northern Maine but moved to Wisconsin. He was a state champ for the Xavier Hawks in the two mile race. He went to South Dakota State after HS graduation. He told me that he has the 4th fastest time in SDS history in the three mile.
“I had breathing problems out there because of the elevation so I came back to Maine,” he said. “I am now training at Orono.”
“I hadn’t raced in 1 ½ years so I saw this race (Bridgton) as a great breakin race for me,” said Luke.
Heather: “I chose this race because when I was looking for a race to do, this was the only one that was open.”
Heather (40) said, “I’ve been running off-and-on my whole life. I picked it back up in 2016. I have the LA Triple Crown at the end of August and I’m looking ahead for some fall races.”
“I’m hoping to run the Maine Potato Blossom in Fort Fairfield and maybe the Caribou Marathon,” said Luke.
“I’m probably going to take some time off and get ready to race in the fall,” said Jesse.
There were 923 finishers according to the Granite City Race Services. (Those folks were quick to get the results up.)
Laura Pulito was the third female finisher.
Silas Eastman continues to be a top-ten finisher. It’s been a while since he ran for Fryeburg or the Colby Mules but he’s still in good shape.
Dominic Sclafani (Wheaton College and Harrison) has run this race many times and his 3rd place finish today was his best.
The starting numbers were down. Not surprising, since the area camps are restricted by virus concerns. Several of the camps did attend, however.
The starting street of the race was paved recently. The returning runners must have liked that.
That rain today was not as welcome to the spectators as it was to the runners. Any good pictures you see today were taken by someone rolling the dice on camera damage….I speak as one of them.
Race Director Bill Graham had everything running smoothly.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)