The Maine Distance Festival at Bowdoin College was a midsummer highlight during its run of excellence from 1994 to 2003. Now, a new meet is looking to carry on that tradition.

The Maine Distance Gala, presented by New Balance, will be held Friday on the Jack Magee track at Bowdoin College.

“We are kind of hoping to bring back the distance festival’s quality, but this is the first year, so we’d just like to get things going and see what we can do with it,” said Jorma Kurry.

The Falmouth High School coach is one of four principal organizers of the meet, along with Thornton Academy Coach George Mendros, Chris Mazzuro of North Yarmouth Academy, and Syracuse assistant coach Brandon Bonsey, who serves as elite coordinator.

The 12-race event kicks off at 5 p.m. with a master’s mile for women (nice that Chris Snow-Reaser of Dayton will be running, since her daughter, Erica, is entered in the girls’ 800).

In between are lots of highlights and familiar names, including UMaine’s Riley Masters (he of the 3:58.17 mile), Cheverus’ Jack Terwilliger, and former Portland High standout Sintayehu Taye (4:04.04 mile, now at Virginia) in the Running Times men’s mile. Scarborough’s Erica Jesseman (America East 5K champion) and Falmouth’s Emily Follo, now at Mount Holyoke, are in the women’s 2-mile.

The Pacepal men’s master’s mile is looking like a Dirigo-fest, with Mike Payson, Andy Spaulding, Bill Mariski and Pete Bottomley in the field (qualifying time, 4:50). Josh Zolla and Henry Loughlin are among those entered for the Maine Coast Orthopedics men’s 2-mile.

“Overall, we’ll have a nice mix of local people and talent from away,” said Kurry.

“There’s some prize money, but not a lot,” he said ($75, $50 and $25 in open races, and $25 for masters winners). The entry fee for competitors is a low $10 and includes a T-shirt, and the spectator admission is also comical, at $3 for adults and $1 for students.

Check out the meet’s Facebook page (search for Maine Distance Gala) for more information, updates on the fields, and to register. The event logo was designed by artist and two-time Beach to Beacon Maine champ Eric Giddings.

NOTES: At the Distance Gala, South Portland resident and Running Times writer Scott Douglas will be signing copies of his new book, “The Little Red Book of Running” …

The Close to the Coast 5K and 10K races are on for 9 a.m. Saturday, for the 16th year, at beautiful Winslow Park in Freeport. The prizes are beautiful, too — homemade pies, to the top two finishers in each category.

You can sign up online (fee is $15) at until midnight Thursday; registration begins at 7:15 a.m. on race day.

There’s a free kids’ mile race after the longer ones. The races are part of Winslow Park Family Fun Day, where all the events as well as park admission are free. For more info and a printable entry form, check out

Winners at the Cobscook Bay 10K last weekend were Limestone’s Al Hanscom, 35, in 37:42, and Katrina Bisheimer, 46, of Bangor in 47:03. … After six events in the Tradewinds Market/Sub 5 Race Series, Caleb Lander leads the men’s standings with 23 points, four up on Judson Cake of Bar Harbor, in the men’s division. Kristine Guaraldo of South Portland leads the women with 25 points, five ahead of Samantha Matoush of Bangor. Next race in the series is the 36th edition of the Tour du Lac 10-miler in Bucksport, at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 25.

At the Peter Ott’s 10K in Camden, it was a sweep for Rockland residents as Mike Bunker, 29, won in 33:02 and Amanda LaBelle was top woman in 40:28, which was seventh overall. …

Bunker was one of the 15 indomitable Maine-iacs who won the 17-leg, 70-team (four from Maine) Cape Breton Relays at Baddeck, N.S., over Memorial Day weekend. The Maine-iacs’ time over the mountainous 185-mile course was 16:33:50, which was a substantial improvement over last year’s second-place 16:47:01. And, the Maine Road Hags repeated as victors in the women’s division, running 20:13:36, and finishing sixth overall.

Mixed-team Rhino Redux ran 10th overall, in 22:38:33, five places higher than last year, and the Maine Running Fossils were 69th, in 27:19:01. Check out the “Maine-iacs at the Cabot Trail Relay” page on Facebook for photos conveying the unique, er, flavor of Cabot.

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

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