FREEPORT — Runners from near and far and spanning all ability levels decided to get in their exercise before scorching holiday temperatures of around 90 degrees kicked in, making it a major challenge to run even a single mile.

Even with an early morning start, the L.L. Bean 4th of July 10K, temperatures were in the mid-70s and humidity around 60 percent when Ethan Hemphill – race director since 2015 and a four-time winner – kicked off the run.

But the heat didn’t quell the holiday spirit of this event, now in its 41st year. The race had 1,229 finishers and started a day of Fourth of July festivities, including the 1-mile family fun run/walk, a parade, concert and fireworks.

“This is a great way to spend the holiday,” said Katrina Spratford, the women’s winner from Providence, Rhode Island. Her boyfriend and former North Yarmouth Academy standout Henry Sterling surprised her by signing her up. “I get to do something I love and then spend the holiday with the people I love.”

Sterling was second to Ryan Smith, who finished first for the second straight year. Sterling particularly loved running on the roads he pounded growing up.

“My dad was cheering us on right near Church Road, where I used to live,” he said.

Smith, of Farmington, edged Sterling by a little more than 40 seconds with a time of 32:02, an improvement over last year’s time despite the hot and steamy running conditions.

Smith said he often races in Connecticut and the Boston area, so having a quality, family-oriented race close to home was a plus.

“Look at these crowds – it is awesome,” Smith said. “It feels like a big race but it is small and local. It is great that it is close to home. I can enjoy Freeport – and L.L. Bean, which I love – after the race.”

Proceeds from race benefit the YMCA of Southern Maine Casco Bay Branch in Freeport. Since 2001, more than $310,000 has been raised, allowing more than 2,000 children to attend summer camp for a week.

The Mariottis, from North Hampton, New Hampshire, have made it a family affair. Rob and Hannah ran for the second straight year with their children, Carson, 10, and Dexter, 9.

Carson was in the holiday spirit with her red, white and blue USA T-shirt.

“I like that the race is on the Fourth of July,” she said before the race. “I also like how me and my dad finished before Dexter and mom last year.”

Dexter was excited to eat as much as possible, knowing he already had exercised.

“The spirit, the community feel, everyone is happy to be here,” said Hannah Mariotti. “And it is such a good cause for the community.”

In 1978, L.L. Bean’s Leon Gorman wanted to get co-workers to run on the holiday and created the race. Now it is a destination event that often is a tuneup to the Beach to Beacon 10K.

Hometown running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson – gold medal winner in the women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics – participated in her 33rd consecutive race despite being “hobbled.”

“This race is such a tradition in Freeport,” said Samuelson, who enjoyed the rest of the holiday with family on a local island. “L.L. Bean is such a tradition and this race works so well with its outdoor (theme).”

Dylan Ide, a 16-year-old from Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania, was running in his first 10K close to where his stepfather grew up. He was undeterred by the heat or the holiday.

“Running is a way of life; you don’t take a day off because of a holiday,” said the cross-country runner, who sprinted across the finish line.


UPDATE: This story was corrected on July 5 at 10:48 a.m. to show that Henry Sterling attended North Yarmouth Academy.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.