Silas Eastman, who still has a year remaining at Fryeburg Academy, was a first-time winner Wednesday at the Bridgton Four on the Fourth rad race, capturing the 4-mile race in 21 minutes, 33 seconds.
By Kevin Thomas
BRIDGTON – Silas Eastman figured he has been running the Bridgton Four on the Fourth road race for about 10 years.
"Ran it as a kid just for fun," he said.
Eastman, 17, with one year remaining at Fryeburg Academy, no longer runs in the pack. He bolts away from it.
Eastman won his first Four on the Fourth race Wednesday, covering the 4-mile course in 21 minutes, 33 seconds. His friend and Fryeburg alum, Tim Even, was second in 21:41. Peter Bottomley, 50, of Cape Elizabeth finished third in 22:08.
Emily Ward, 30, of Richmond, Va., ran the course for the first time and won the women's race in 24:26.
A record capacity of 2,100 runners registered, with 1,882 officially finishing the race, held in a comfortable off-and-on drizzle.
"Light rain is awesome," said Even, who stayed with Eastman until a little less than a mile remained. "Silas and I were chatting in the middle of the race, how the rain felt really good."
Ward was thinking the same thing. She escaped the heat of Richmond this week, vacationing with family on Long Lake.
"The conditions were perfect," Ward said. "I'm so used to humidity. I think this past week it was 102 every day in Virginia."
Ward used to run for the University of Richmond. She moved on to marathons and is now training for triathlons.
"It has made me a little faster," said Ward, who was 49 seconds ahead of runner-up Cathleen Balantic, 25, of Niantic, Conn.
April Werning, 36, of Portland finished third in 25:21. Werning used to run for Bowdoin College, then did road races. She is just getting back into competition after nearly a 10-year layoff.
"It's really hard," Werning said of her first time on Bridgton's hilly course.
The three male leaders have loads of Four on the Fourth experience.
Eastman, Even and Bottomley finished in the top 10 the previous two years. Bottomley, a former runner for Oxford High and the University of Maine, first ran here in 1979 and contended for the title often in the 1980s.
"I was this close to winning it a couple of times," said Bottomley, his thumb and index finger almost touching.
On Wednesday, Bottomley stayed with Eastman and Even, and there was hope.
"I was running with these two young guys," Bottomley said, "and I was thinking, 'hey I have a chance.' Then they beat me by 35 seconds the last half."
Even, 23, of Stoneham, just completed a stellar senior track season at the University of Southern Maine – named Little East Conference male track athlete of the year and placing 17th in the 1,500 meters in the NCAA Division III nationals.
Eastman, who attends Fryeburg although he lives in Chatham, N.H., has won the past two Maine Class B high school cross country championships.
On Wednesday, Eastman pulled away as they went downhill with a mile to go.
"Silas is made for cross country running," Even said. "I'm made for the track. Whenever we get into a battle like this, whenever we open it up on downhills and stuff, I'm always at a disadvantage.
"He's extremely talented. And he's a great guy. I'm never upset losing to him."
Eastman called it "a nice run during the summer to keep your racing up, keep you in the right mind-set."
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:
Emily Ward of Richmond, Va., was happy to escape the heat and humidity of her hometown this week, taking a break from a family vacation on Long Lake to win the women’s division of the Four on the Fourth.
Bill Farrell of Plymouth, Mass., watches runners turn onto Depot Street during the Four on the Fourth road race Wednesday in Bridgton. Farrell’s son-in-law was competing.