Maura Edgecomb is an avid road racer who runs in every kind of race format, from grueling marathons to speedy 5-kilometer races.

But when Edgecomb participated in the Duo Duel 10K relay last summer in Portland, she found that the relay format of the road race brought about a new kind of challenge.

“There’s the piece of the race in that you don’t want to let your partner down,” Edgecomb said. “There’s a bit of pressure.”

Still, the 37-year-old Windham resident liked the relay format so much that she didn’t hesitate to enter the race again.

Edgecomb will be one of nearly 200 runners to take to the streets of Portland Saturday morning. Runners team up in pairs and each will run a 5-kilometer course through the city.

Edgecomb will team with Gigi Stone-Grannell to run the course, which begins and ends at Commercial and Center streets. The first runner will run up Commercial Street and along the waterfront to East End Beach, then turn around and run back to Commercial and Center streets by way of Fore Street.

At the starting point, each runner will hand off a snap bracelet to his or her teammate for the second half of the 10K relay.

“It was the first time I’d ever done a relay race,” said Edgecomb, who ran with husband Scott in 2010. “Lots of runners run and nobody expects to win.

“You compete against yourself to get better times, but with a team, it makes it more of a race in which you think, ‘I’m going out there for fun and I want to get a good time, but I want to enjoy the race with someone else.’“

Brian Curtin, the athletic director at St. Joseph’s College and the Duo Duel race director, said that as of Monday, just under 200 runners had registered for the race, an improvement of 10 percent to 15 percent from the inaugural race.

“It was overwhelmingly positive how different and how unique it was to run down Commercial Street,” Curtin said. “You can combine teamwork in a road race and that was the appeal. It’s being individualistic while being part of a team.”

For the second year in a row, the George J. Mitchell Scholarship Institute will be the race beneficiary. In 2010, the race raised $1,000 for the Portland-based organization, which awards scholarship money and financial assistance to Maine high school students chosen on the basis of academics, community service and financial need.

The seven-person race committee has had to handle the logistics of planning the 10K, including a tweak of the transition area where runners hand off the bracelets to their teammates. Runners will be corralled into an area where they will not only be able to see their teammates approaching, but also will be able to see the course itself.

“There’s a lot of logistics, particularly in a race that goes through that part of the city,” Curtin said. “We learned that our T’s have to be crossed with the city and that it’s important to have the volunteers there bright and early.

“But once you do it and you have a pretty good staff behind you, once you have the template, it makes things easier.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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