CAPE ELIZABETH — High school runners always have been a part of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race, none so prominently as Eric Giddings, who won the Maine men category as a South Portland High sophomore in 2003.

But after 18 years, Giddings remains the only high school athlete to win one of the major awards. Race organizers figured it was time the state’s fleetest teenagers enjoyed more of the limelight.

The Beach to Beacon High School Mile makes its debut Friday with a two-lap course through Fort Williams, ending at the Beach to Beacon finish line.

The race founder and 1984 Olympic gold medalist, Joan Benoit Samuelson, said she thinks the new event, held shortly before the Kids Fun Run, will be an exciting addition.

“A lot of other races include a high school mile,” Samuelson said from the traffic circle in front of the Portland Head Light, not far from where the high school mile will start. “What’s a little different about our mile, it’s not on a track. I think it will be a crowd pleaser.”

A call went out in early June for up to 40 Maine runners entering their sophomore, junior or senior years who met qualifying standards. For boys, the bar was set at 5 minutes for the mile or 17:30 for the 5K. For girls, the times required were 6:15 or 20:30.

Twelve girls and 10 boys who met the criteria signed up. All will receive singlets and shorts provided by Nike.

“I am just so stoked to run,” said John Hassett, a senior at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill seeded second in the boys’ race by virtue of his 4:24.03 clocking at the New England 1,600 in the spring. “I’ve heard of the event but I’ve never, ever been to Beach to Beacon.”

The two-time defending Class C cross country champion, Hassett is seeded just behind Falmouth senior Jeremiah Sands, who ran 4:23.72 for 1,600 in May. Sands said his Falmouth High coaches advised him not to train specifically for the race because they wanted him healthy for the upcoming cross country season.

Both Sands and Hassett attended the Acadia Running Camp this summer, as did Waterville sophomore Nick Dall, the third seed (4:30.45).

“Josh Lombardo of Westbrook (the fourth seed) is always a good competitor,” Sands said. “It should be fun running with all of them.”

The girls’ field appears more top heavy, with only one entrant having broken the five-minute barrier. Tia Tardy posted a 4.55.57 indoor mile at the New Balance indoor nationals in March while a junior at Orono. She plans to run for Mt. Desert Island this fall.

“I’m a little nervous but overall I think it will be a fun time,” Tardy said. “It will be good to have a race under my belt before cross country season starts.”

Former Orono teammates Hannah Steelman (third) and Kassidy Dill (fifth) are among the top seeds. Seeded second is Katherine Leggat-Barr, a senior at Greely High in Cumberland who ran a 5:11.84 indoor mile and is the two-time defending Class B cross country champ.

“I was really fired up to sign up,” Leggatt-Barr said. “It’s a good way to get really strong Maine runners together in a fun atmosphere that’s not super high pressure.”

One entrant, Scarborough High senior Shamus Malia, opted out of the mile in favor of Saturday’s 10K. Leggat-Barr said she will run both.

“We don’t really have anything like this in Maine for high schoolers,” said Morgan Lake Adams, the Maine Coast Waldorf cross country coach and coordinator of the event. “A lot of these kids are often divided by class or geography, so they don’t get a chance to compete against each other outside of New Englands.”