BOSTON – Maine is the only other New England state besides Massachusetts that celebrates Patriots Day, a convenient holiday for a North Yarmouth schoolboy who loved to run and dreamed of someday barreling down Boylston Street, overcoming a couple Kenyans and breaking the Boston Athletic Association tape with arms raised.

That dream came true Sunday morning, albeit in the BAA 5K rather than today’s 116th running of the Boston Marathon.

Even so, it was a course record and was worth $4,000 for True, the Greely High and Dartmouth College graduate who has become a professional runner after years of including Nordic skiing in his athletic mix.

“I don’t think I ever came close to reaching my potential in college because I was always sharing my time with skiing,” True said Sunday morning after he reeled in three Kenyans on the long finishing stretch shared by today’s marathon course and the four-year-old BAA 5K. “I knew eventually all my times would start dropping.”

True, 26, lopped 25 seconds off his winning time from a year ago. He waited until the last 50 meters to pass runner-up Sam Chelanga, and won by two seconds in 13:41 over a field surpassing 5,000.

After running from Copley Square to and around Boston Common and returning via Commonwealth Avenue, True was the fourth athlete to turn from Hereford Street back onto Boylston. Unlike the three ahead of him, however, True knew all about the deceiving length of the last few blocks. He’d been watching it play out for years.

“People forget how long that finishing straight is,” he said. “If you go too early, you really will have nothing left for the last 100 meters.”

So when Chelanga and Lani Rutto took off, True bided his time behind them, maintaining his distance but keeping some gas in his tank.

With 400 meters left, True knew the race was his. He caught Rutto, then waited to pass Chelanga.

“I didn’t know who was behind me,” True said, “so I waited a little bit longer to make my move.”

A New England kid kicking past Kenyans on Boylston Street? The crowd loved it.

Reaching the final tenth of a mile in Boston with only 3 miles of exertion rather than 26? That was a nice feeling, too, True said.

“Oh, it’s great,” he said with a wide grin. “That’s why we do the sport.”

Sunday’s 5K is the first of a three-race BAA Distance Medley that includes a 10K in June and a half marathon in October. The winner receives $100,000, but True would have to give up his quest for the London Games because the BAA 10K falls smack in the middle of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Oregon.

“So no Americans will be able to go for it,” True said of the cash prize.

True’s focus this year is those trials, at either 5,000 or 10,000 meters, or both. At the end of April, he’ll go to Stanford University for the Peyton Jordan Invitational, a 10K race that, a year ago, landed him in the hospital.

Leading into that race, his fitness level was such that he over-extended himself in workouts and wore himself down. When he caught a bug, it resulted in a meltdown.

Still, True recovered well enough to win the American Road Racing Circuit championship in a year that saw plenty of changes in his routine, from the dissolution of his New Hampshire-based training group and his coach’s move to Ann Arbor, Mich., to a calf strain in early December that led to six painful weeks of winter.

“It was partly my own stupidity,” True said. “Me and my stubbornness, I kept running on it another month with it hurting every day.”

Although he lost his running partners, True continues to live in Wilder, Vt., train in Hanover, N.H., and get support from the national In The Arena Foundation.

He also coaches a middle school track team in a New Hampshire town where over half the students qualify for free or reduced school lunches.

“We started it in the fall and the kids loved it,” he said.

Sunday’s 5K was the second race of the season for True, who traveled to Australia to run a fast 5,000 meters at the Melbourne Track Classic, which serves as that country’s Olympic trials.

“Both the race in Melbourne and the race here are just reassuring that my fitness is where it needs to be right now,” he said, “and hopefully it will bode well going into the Olympic trials in June.”

True will return to Maine in early May to take part in Cumberland’s Safe Passage 5K, organized by a friend.

Today, however, he’ll be back on the streets of Boston cheering for his cousin, Sarah Anderson, as she attempts the marathon he knows he’ll run, someday, all the way from Hopkinton instead of only the final few blocks.

And when he does, he’ll be sure to save something for the finish on Boylston Street, which, he knows, is longer than it appears.

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH