One measure of the robust good health of road racing in Maine is the state’s growth in half marathons, and half marathon participants (e.g. more than 2,000 finishers in the 2010 Maine Half, scheduled for Oct. 2 this year). There isn’t space here to cover everybody in one column, but here’s a start:

First, a new race, the Old Port Half Marathon at 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 24. The event benefits Habitat for Humanity, in keeping with race director Erik Boucher’s working to present as “green” a race as possible. There’s a companion 5K, too.

The half’s course is cool — from the Eastern Prom out into Falmouth, then back for a circuit of Back Cove and around the Eastern Prom trail to finish at the Maine State Pier — and pretty darn flat. Check www.oldporthalfmarathon.com for full details. ….

Just a couple of weeks later, on Sunday, Aug. 14, another new half will be held in Freeport, but it’s called the Portland Half Marathon at Freeport, with a 5K and a fun run to boot. The half is part of a United States Running Association series of half marathons in many states, and is envisioned as a destination event, though the photos on the Web site (www.usrahm.com/Events/portland.htm) do not suggest that the destination is Freeport.

That said, the course looks fun, starting at Upper Mast Landing, then following a big loop around Flying Point to Pleasant and toward town for a little 2-mile loop with a finish at Depot Street. …

The County Open Half Marathon in Houlton is back for its ninth year, on Saturday, Aug. 13, at 8 a.m. There’s a relay division, too, for 2-4 runners, each of whom must run at least 3.1 miles.

The “Easternmost Half Marathon in the United States” course is described as a challenging, pastoral loop on which deer are often sighted and which passes potato fields, cemeteries and farms. Great food for reflection for runners so inclined.

Baseball caps go to the first 100. The registration fee of $25 before July 1 and $30 thereafter, and $15 per relayer, is pleasantly risible by southern Maine standards.

There are very useful, three-deep cash prizes for males and females ($200, $150 and $100) plus $50 for masters winners. See www.countyopen.com for more details. …

The Bar Harbor Bank & Trust/MDI YMCA Half Marathon filled all its 400 spots for the Saturday, Sept. 17 event back in March and is not doing a waiting list, as in past years. The Y is, however, selling 200 raffle tickets at $10 each for a chance to win an entry. Find out more at www.mdiymca.org

The MDI half does have a companion 5K that’s still open. And so does the PFBF Half Marathon, which will be held at Oakland on Sunday, July 10. The PFBF race benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine and is in its second year. The course is a big, writhing loop out of First Park (the 5K is run entirely within the park) and briefly visits the Colby campus.

Fees are a very reasonable $25 until June 10, $35 thereafter. Find a map, training schedules, and an impressive list of sponsors at www.pfbf.com. …

And a new half marathon, very probably the state’s most gorgeously scenic, will be held at Tenant’s Harbor on Saturday, Aug. 28. The Blueberry Cove Half Marathon benefits Tanglewood 4-H Camps and Learning Centers. There’s a blueberry brunch, pottery medals, organic cotton Ts, and stoneware mugs as prizes.

Here’s the sad thing: The race is capped at 100 entrants, and filled weeks ago.

Why cap a race at 100? Because, a Tanglewoodian explained, they want to make sure that a manageable number of people enjoy a quality event, then see about perhaps expanding in the future. Hats off to these non-greedheads.

There is a waiting list; if you’re interested, check out Blueberry Cove 13.1 on Facebook to follow up.

NEXT SUNDAY will see a 5K to celebrate the life of Casey Irish, at 9 a.m. at Massabesic High in Waterboro.

“A great kid, a track and cross-country runner, involved in all sorts of stuff at school and church,” organizer T.J. Hesler says of Irish, who died at age 16 in a car accident in November on his way home after helping set up the team banquet.

The Run for Casey 5K uses the Mustang 5K course but is more run than race: no fee, donations encouraged, but you can run without making one, with shirts to the first 100 to donate $20. Race beneficiary is a scholarship in Casey’s name. There is no prerace signup; registration begins at the school at 7:30 a.m.

John Rolfe of Portland is a staff writer and a road runner. He can be reached at 791-6429 or at:

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