CAPE ELIZABETH — Sam Russ of Lincoln Academy and Lily Horne of Freeport enjoyed their victories, the competition and the spectacle of the High School Mile, a second-year event held Friday night as a lead-in for the Beach to Beacon 10K.

The 2017 races were “way more competitive than last year,” said the girls’ runner-up, Emily Carty of Fryeburg Academy. Indications are the fields could be deeper and more diverse in the future.

Ashley Irby from Bermuda became the first international runner, finishing sixth in the girls’ race.

“If we get inquiries from international runners, it’s only right to accommodate them,” said Joan Benoit Samuelson, the race founder.

And if top talents from neighboring states ask for a spot?

“That’s a subject we’re going to be addressing. I think this year really is going to put the high school mile in the news in a big way and the times were very competitive,” Samuelson said.

“We try to be as inclusive here as we possibly can. To give Maine youth the opportunity to be in the midst of the best runners in the world is very important to us. So Maine kids first, and we’ll see what happens with other international inquiries.”

Runners must have a verifiable qualifying time of 5 minutes for boys and 6:15 for girls. There were 20 spots available for both races but neither was filled – 15 boys and 17 girls raced.

Horne said she was glad she was encouraged to run by Carty, a friend and frequent competitor in skiing.

“She recommended that I apply and so I was really grateful she did,” Horne said. “She told me it was a really cool experience. I had heard of it but it never occurred to me it was just something you could do. I thought it would be a good benchmark in the summer just to see where I was with my training.”

Horne powered away from early leader Carolyn Todd of Greely and ran to a course record of 5:28.8. Carty finished second in 5:30.1, and Anna Slager of Gorham (5:30.5) and Todd (5:31.1) were also under the old record of 5:32.3 set by Tia Tardy.

Russ ran in the inaugural event in 2016 and course knowledge helped, knowing that the one significant hill on the two-loop cross country style course “kills the second time around.”

“This year I tried to go out a little more conservatively, and I found myself with about 600 meters to go feeling really good,” Russ said.

Russ opened a 10-yard lead when Alec Troxell of Deering, who ran mostly the 800 meters in the spring, started a last-ditch sprint toward the finish line chute. Troxell thought he had Russ measured.

“Then I saw him look back and see me and just go. He had a little bit left, too,” Troxell said. “Next year, hopefully I can win.”

Russ finished in 4 minutes, 42.9 seconds, with Troxell on his heels in 4:43.2. Griffin Allaire, who will be a sophomore at Wells, recovered from a slip at the start to finish third in 4:47.7.

In addition to the competition, Russ appreciated the fanfare. Runners were introduced individually. Elite runners Jordan Hasay and Shalane Flanagan, top threats to unseat defending women’s champ Mary Keitany in Saturday’s 10K, held the winners’ tape. Defending men’s champion Ben True was the starter. Race director Dave McGillivray scurried about making sure things ran smoothly. Samuelson was a constant congratulatory presence.

“The whole atmosphere, it just kind of feels like you’re a professional runner at a professional race and it’s really cool,” Russ said.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 5 to show that Carolyn Todd attends Greely High.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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