Westbrook's Lombardo to run in new B2B High School Mile

Westbrook senior Josh Lombardo, seen here at last year's Class A Cross Country State Final, will be participating in the Beach to Beacon's inaugural High School Mile event on Friday, Aug. 5.

The TD Beach to Beacon returns to Cape Elizabeth on Aug. 6 for its 19th annual running. This year, organizers have added another facet to the event: the High School Mile, exclusively for elite Maine student athletes.

“It’s the inaugural year; we’re giving it a test run and going to work out the kinks,” said Morgan Lake Adams, coordinator for the High School Mile and cross country head coach at Maine Coast Waldorf School in Gray-New Gloucester and Freeport. “But hopefully in the coming years this is going to grow.”

Westbrook senior Josh Lombardo applauds the Mile because its addition alongside the 10K will expose runners to athletes who specialize in different distances.

“People that are engineered maybe for middle distance rather than longer distance get to showcase their talents to people that normally wouldn’t see them,” Lombardo said. 

Harrison Osborne, a sophomore at Scarborough, is strictly in it for the action. 

“I’m just looking forward to competing,” he said. “Hopefully I won’t get last.”

The Mile is set to start at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5. It’s a two-loop course that begins near Portland Head Light and ends at the official B2B finish line. The boys’ qualifying standard was 5:00, and the girls’ 6:15. Only 20 boys and 20 girls from the pool of applicants were selected to participate, so the Mile will be very much a battle among the state’s best – well worth turning out to watch. 

“In the Olympics,” said Osborne, “I think the hardest race is the 1500 – close to a mile, and I think people like watching it.”

“One thing our humble state does well, when it comes to high school athletics, is: We produce a lot of high-quality runners,” said Adams. “Unfortunately, we don’t – beyond the usual State Cross Country Meet, the State Track Meet – have a lot of chance for the kids from far-flung areas to run against each other. That’s a really neat opportunity.”

“It’s a different type of event,” said Adams. “There are races like this in other states, but Maine doesn’t really have a … showcase of high school athletes as part of a larger race weekend.”

“None of the guys in the race, with the exception of two, are in my league,” said Lombardo, referring to the Southern Maine Athletics Association, of which Westbrook is a part, “so I don’t race against them regularly.”

“It’s good to race with different people, who have a different perspective, different areas to train and different coaches,” said Lombardo.

Bon-Ton is the title sponsor of the Mile, and uniforms will be provided by Nike. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers of each sex. The race will be run in two heats, one each for the boys and girls. 

In addition to Lombardo and Osborne, the boys’ heat will feature Jeremiah Sands (Falmouth, senior); John Hassett (George Stevens, senior); Nick Dall (Waterville, sophomore); Isaiah Brown (Houlton, senior); Sam Russ (Lincoln, sophomore); Liam Bowie (Noble, senior); and Caleb Pendleton (Bonny Eagle, senior).

Meanwhile, the girls’ heat will feature Tia Tardy (Orono, senior); Katherine Leggat-Barr (Greely, senior); Hannah Steelman (Orono, senior); Emily Carty (Fryeburg, junior); Mary Brenna-Catus (Searsport, junior); Kassidy Dill (Orono, senior); Megan Alberding (North Yarmouth, junior); Arianna Ceiser (Brewer, junior); Alicia Lawrence (Cape Elizabeth, sophomore); Lauren Morrison (Mattanawcook, sophonore); Faith Blethen (Boothbay, sophomore); and Kelsey Kennedy (Cape Elizabeth, sophomore).

“We had a pretty good response this year, but we would like a slightly bigger field in the future,” said Adams. “Hopefully this will be successful and spread the word and even more kids will sign up next year.”

Some athletes who would undoubtedly have qualified for the High School Mile didn’t want to run that race and then the 10K the following day, and opted for the 10K.

“There are many very fast high school runners who’ll be doing the 10K instead,” said Adams. “We managed to get the word out, but it’s going to take a couple years to build, to get on everyone’s radar.”

Lombardo, at least, opted for the Mile over the 10K specifically because the mile is his preferred distance.

“I’m not really a big fan of 10Ks,” said Lombardo. “I kind of want to focus on 5Ks, to prepare for our distance in cross country, for the season.”

Lombardo also confessed to feeling slightly overwhelmed by the size of the 10K field.

“It’s so many people; I don’t know if I’m ready for a race with that many people yet.”

The Beach to Beacon itself – the 10K – will attract more than 6,500 runners from across Maine, the United States and the globe. including many of the world’s best. This year’s charity beneficiary is My Place Teen Center, a nonprofit based in Westbrook that aims to sustain young people in Cumberland and York counties with “comfort, meals, resources and hope,” according to the Beach to Beacon website.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the first-ever Women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles in 1984, founded the B2B in 1998. A Cape Elizabeth native, Samuelson now lives in Freeport.

Westbrook senior Josh Lombardo, seen here at last year’s Class A Cross Country State Final, will be participating in the Beach to Beacon’s inaugural High School Mile event on Friday, Aug. 5.

Masses of runners – roughly 6,600 athletes – flood the finish chute at the 2015 Beach to Beacon.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, founder of the Beach to Beacon, hugs 2015 women’s No. 2 Diane Nukuri of Burundi. A native of Cape Elizabeth and current Freeport Resident, Samuelson won gold in the first Women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984 in Los Angeles.

A Closer Look

The 19th annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race, founded by Olympic gold medalist and Maine native Joan Benoit Samuelson, will be held Saturday, Aug. 6, in Cape Elizabeth.  The race starts at 7:55 a.m. with the 10K Wheelchair division, followed by runners at 8:05 a.m. The event attracts a large contingent of world-class athletes. Last year, a record-setting 6,602 runners from 15 countries, 41 states and more than 265 Maine cities and towns finished the 6.2-mile coastal course.

On race day, the following roads will be closed to traffic (except for shuttle buses):

• Route 77, Sprague Hall to Kettle Cove Road, 6-10 a.m.

• Crescent Beach State Park will not be accessible until 9 a.m.

• Route 77, Kettle Cove Road to Old Ocean House Road closed 7:30-10 a.m.

• Old Ocean House Road (all) closed 7:30-10 a.m.

• Route 77, at Hillway closed 7:30-10 a.m.

• Shore Road south of Fort Williams closed at 7:30 a.m.

• All of Fowler Road closed 7:15-10 a.m.

• Scott Dyer Road eastbound closed 6:15-8 a.m.

Race organizers are reminding spectators and volunteers along the course to stay completely off the course roads as of 7:45 a.m.