PORTLAND – The phone calls flew all week between Kennebunk and Ellsworth.

“So, Lou, decided yet?”

“How’s the foot feel today?”

“Think you’ll make it?”

On Friday, Louie Luchini of Ellsworth acquiesced to his brother’s entreaties. Joey Luchini drove to Portland and registered his younger brother for the 10th annual Sea Dogs Mother’s Day 5K road race.

On Sunday, as expected, Louie Luchini ran to victory on a cool and blustery morning, earning a trophy with a baseball, a chance to throw out the first pitch at a future Sea Dogs game, and a pair of tickets for the rest of the 2010 season.

Which, with Louie busy in Ellsworth running for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives, his brother will be more than happy to use.

“He paid the entry fee,” said Luchini, 28, a former Stanford University standout.

“That was part of the deal,” said Joey, 31, a physical education teacher at Bonny Eagle High who lives in Kennebunk.

Scarborough’s Kristin Barry, like Luchini a former winner of this race, finished 10th overall and first among women by more than a minute and a half. Her time of 17 minutes and four seconds lowered her own race record by 22 seconds, but fell five seconds shy of the course record, set by Falmouth’s Sheri Piers in last year’s Father’s Day 5K.

“I felt great,” said Barry, 36, cradling seven pink carnations in her arm. “If it hadn’t been this windy, I wanted to PR.”

She greeted Luchini in the parking lot between the Expo and Hadlock Field after the finish and compared notes.

“Did the wind bother you?” she asked. “Yeah, that was terrible,” came the reply. “When I got to two miles, I was like, ‘I’m done.’ That last mile I was hurting.”

Curtis Wheeler, the 2009 winner, tucked in behind Luchini for the first mile before Luchini pulled away. He took a 15-second lead into Fitzpatrick Stadium, running behind the visiting bleachers before emerging through a door in the center-field wall and onto the Hadlock Field warning track, slapping hands with children along the left-field foul line as he trotted to the finish in 14:56.

“It’s really cool finishing inside the stadium and seeing all the people in the stands,” Luchini said. “All the kids had their hands out, so I gave them all high-fives.”

Wheeler, 24, of Buxton, cut the gap in half while inside Hadlock and crossed the line in 15:03 — 13 seconds faster than his winning time from last spring. He’s gearing up for the Vermont City Marathon later this month, his first marathon attempt.

Luchini, who set the course record of 14:30 three years ago in his only other Mother’s Day 5K, had his first go at the 26.2-mile distance in early December in Sacramento, Calif. He called it a learning experience. In the weeks before the race he fell ill, and then he went out too fast during the race. Afterward, he didn’t run for a month, and lately has been hampered by a left foot that is either bruised or inflamed, or both.

Geoff Iacuessa, a Sea Dogs assistant general manager and one of the race organizers, said he was hoping to have Luchini and Barry throw out their first pitches at a game next week, when the total donation to Maine Breast Cancer Research will be announced.

“That’ll be cool,” said Luchini, who played shortstop and catcher in Little League. “I just don’t want to spike it into the ground.”

Alas, such was the fate that befell Wheeler last year.

“I bounced it,” Wheeler said ruefully, noting that women’s winner Christine Reaser of Dayton fired a strike. “I guess that’s why I got second (Sunday). I didn’t want to embarrass myself again.”

Once more, the number of finishers grew for this most popular of 5K races in Maine, with 2,501 crossing the timing mats near third base. Strollers and baby joggers, generally verboten in road races, are welcomed here. Organizers who warned of capping the field at 3,000 still had about 50 entries left when the starting cannon boomed at 9:15 a.m.

Race co-director Howard Spear ran the race after remaining on the sidelines for the first nine. He paused a few times on the route — “There’s a few more hills than I thought” — to survey the sea of humanity in front and behind him.

“It was,” he said, “a pretty awesome sight. But we’ve reached our limit.” 

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

[email protected]


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