Alison “Ace” Bradley is back in Maine for the summer, having arrived this week via air rather than afoot, which is how she recently traveled from New York to Los Angeles.

The New Zealand native and former University of Southern Maine runner took off May 6 and took 68 days to cover the approximately 2,800 miles from New York to the steps of City Hall in Los Angeles, where Bradley’s cross-country trek ended shortly before 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 13. Her mom, Glynis, was there from New Zealand to greet her (a surprise) and her dad, Steve, ran her in (his showing up at her Arizona hotel the previous week had been another surprise).

Bradley, 26, nailed her goal of a Guinness World Records Fastest Crossing of America (USA) on Foot (Female) but it’s unofficial until the paperwork has been processed. The previous record was 69 days, 2 hours 40 minutes, as run by Mavis Hutchinson of South Africa back in 1978. More important to Bradley is that she has raised $5,400 (so far) for cancer research (“Running 2 fight cancer” is the run’s Facebook page, and www.run2fightcancer.webstarts.com the Web site, if you’re interested in more information or in donating.

As for the record, Bradley stepped it up with a 58-mile day the day before finishing (she averaged more than 40 miles a day) and the second half of the 2,800 miles was about a week quicker than the first half. (How’s that for a negative split?)

Challenges along the way included bad storms in Pennsylvania and Missouri; packing in enough calories (she left 20 pounds out on the roads and dropped to 125); being chased by “quite a few” dogs (but not bitten, since she was able to fend off or evade her pursuers); and also being menaced by coyotes in New Mexico (a support car — she had one for several weeks — drove slowly alongside and protected her).

She wore out six pairs of shoes (“I probably should have gone through more”) and ran with shoelaces undone the final three weeks because of heat that exceeded 90 degrees even on night runs.

People were never an issue, though. Rather, learning what was afoot, they unfailingly were “kind and welcoming” and generous with accommodations and food. In fact, heading back to Westbrook, Bradley stopped over in McPherson, Kan., to thank the local Rotarians (“they helped me out a lot”) and speak at their meeting.

Bradley would like to produce a DVD of the journey to sell to raise more money for the cause. She might look into writing a book, too. “I did keep a journal the whole time.”

And for the next adventure?

“I haven’t thought, quite yet. But give me time.”

THE FOURTH ANNUAL You and ME Duo Duel, a two-person 10K relay in which each racer does a 5K, is set for 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24. The loop course starts at Commercial and Center streets, travels east to the Prom and ascends steep Cutter Street, goes left onto the Prom, bombs down Fore to Hancock and then onto Commercial to the finish.

New this year: One person can enter and run both halves for a 10K. You can register online through www.duoduel.com until 5 p.m. Aug. 21. The fee (educational nonprofit LearningWorks is the race beneficiary) is $18 per runner until Aug. 19; $22 thereafter (sign up at Maine Running Company from 2-6 p.m. the day before, or at the race on the day beginning at 6:30 a.m.).

Last year’s M-M and F-F winners were Conrad Bros. (Elliott and Claton Conrad) in 32:22, and Catch Me Maybe (Carly Dion and Briana Lagas) in 37:45. The Turtles (Erin Edwards and Cameron Vallie) were the top co-ed team, in 39:37 …

A RECENT DISCUSSION of fine vintage 5-milers in the state invoked the Maine Potato Blossom race in Fort Fairfield. Race director Paul Lamoreau kindly clarifies that the race turned 39 this year, having begun in 1975, “but there may have been one or two unofficial ‘races’ with a few guys before that,” he adds.

“The course is very challenging (the first half is pretty much all uphill, with a mile on a potato field road), and known as one of the toughest in Maine,” Lamoreau notes.  

“We had 101 participants (86 runners and 15 walkers) and the thunderstorms held off, although it was warm and humid, as it seems to be every year.”

Winning handily was Spencer McIlwain, 24, of Old Town in 26:23. Top woman was Jennifer St. Amand, 38, in 36:35. And above all, hats off to Limestone’s Art Thompson, 70, who ran 1:05:25 and completed his 39th straight Potato Blossom …

SPEAKING OF EVENTS in the one true County, note that the Easternmost Half Marathon (and relay) in the U.S. is on for Saturday, Aug. 10 at 8 a.m. in Island Falls. There’s good prize money involved — $200, $150, $100 for top three M and F, and $50 for top masters M and F.

Last year, 33-year-old P.J. Gorneault of Caribou won in 1:12:23; and Sharon Hathaway, 42, of Island Falls was the women’s champion and ninth overall, in 1:33:23. Tom and Marie Beckum of Caribou topped the two-person relay division in 1:28:57.

The race is an Aroostook Musterds series event, and also is ninth in the Trade Winds/Sub 5 Club series. The first 100 people get a County Open baseball cap, and there will be more than $2,000 worth of raffle prizes. Note that because it’s post-July 15, the price has rocketed all the way up from $25 to $30 (feel free to compare that to entry fees in other races of whatever distance). Oh yes, relayers pay $15 each.

All proceeds go to Houlton Regional Hospital’s Health Services Foundation.

For more information and a registration form, go to www.countyopen.com.

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

jrolfe@pressherald.com