The Fourth of July is Maine’s biggest day for road racing. Add up the number of finishers in 2013 races as listed in results and you get 6,713 – and that’s not counting the countless lower-profile events (the Stonington Six, the Race for Grand Lake Stream 5K, the Sebec Village 5K, for example) – that don’t post results on the site.

Like the holiday itself, July 4 races mostly embody tradition. York’s Four on the 4th celebrates its 35th birthday next month, and the Goose Rocks Beach Association 5K at Kennebunkport turns 20. These are two of the state’s larger Independence Day races, with 923 and 917 finishers last year, respectively. Goose Rocks had 1,021 sign up.

Drawing on a smaller population base, the Friends on the 4th 5K at Winthrop has grown impressively, with 617 runners in 2013, which was its 11th year. And the Walter Hunt Memorial 3K (aka the Shinsplint 3,000 – because of its precipitous downhill) in Bangor is more robust than ever, going into its 34th running. There were 628 finishers last year.

And then there are the big boys – Bridgton and Bean’s, as they are informally known.

Now in its 38th year, the 4 on the Fourth at Bridgton was the state’s largest race before Beach to Beacon came on the scene. Last year there were 2,010 finishers. Like many July 4 races, it attracts many of the same loyal runners and families year after year. Among them is John Crowe of Sweden, who has run Bridgton at least 10 times, including the year he turned 80 when 14 family members from around the country ran with him.

This year, Locke, a retired congregational minister and teacher, will toe the starting line at age 87 with a handful of relatives, while his wife Shirley leads the cheering section of grandchildren. The race starts at 8 a.m.

A similar spirit is noted at the L.L. Bean 10K in Freeport, where the competition will include Polly Kenniston of Westbrook, recently elected to the Maine Running Hall of Fame. Kenniston, 77, finished in 1:01:22 to place second in her age division, won by 71-year-old Gail Reinertson of Boothbay Harbor (1:00:06). Both are registered this year, race director Jim Gott said.

Like Bridgton, 37-year-old Bean’s is renowned for its quality of presentation and competition (and its character-building hills). And often, heat, which is one reason for the 7:30 a.m. start. Last year there were 1,360 finishers, led by Rob Gomez, now of Portland, in 31:51, and Erica Jesseman of Scarborough in 35:34.

Bean’s is known for its history, and its course/event records (the starting line was moved back a bit on Bow Street a few years ago). U.S. Olympians Steve Spence (29:47, 1991) and Joan Benoit Samuelson (34:03, 1988) hold the event marks. On the new-ish course, Yarmouth’s Pat Tarpy (30:52, 2010) and Kristin Barry of Scarborough (35:12, 2008) top the charts.

Jesseman and Samuelson will be back this year, along with Falmouth’s Sheri Piers, long one of the state’s very best, and also just elected to the Maine Hall. Elite Michelle Lilienthal of Portland is entered, too. Gomez will be away at a family event, but Freeport’s Josh Zolla, second last year in 33:28, has signed up.

At Bridgton, where Moninda Marube of Auburn (20:25) and Mary Pardi of Falmouth (24:20) were the 2013 champions, the gaudy records have endured since 1987. They belong to Farmingdale native Colin Peddie (18:46) and Michele Hallett (21:56).

While those numbers are unlikely to be matched or bettered, another (as in participants) may well be. Bridgton race director Jim Cossey noted that it took less than a month (a record) for registrations to hit 500 this year, and that boom continues, with more than 1,200 signups as of midweek.

And that’s before the camper registrations, of which 675 are expected from 10 or 11 camps within a 10-mile radius, come in. Since 2003, Bridgton has awarded a Camp Cup, in which division Naples camps Newfound (girls) and Owatonna (boys) have dominated. All in all, Bridgton could well surpass its record of 2,130 bibs sold last year (over the cap number, but there are always 100 or so no-shows).

Online registration for the L.L. Bean 10K closes at noon Tuesday, unless the cap of 1,500 runners has been reached. Go to for full race details.

For Bridgton, where recent Fryeburg Academy graduate Emily Ouellette will sing the National Anthem, online registration continues until noon Thursday (or until they reach 2,100 runners). To sign up and for full details: go to

John Rolfe writes about road racing for the Maine Sunday Telegram. He can be contacted at 791-6429 or at:

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