Karley Piers of Falmouth was the girls’ winner of the Beach to Beacon High School Mile in 5 minutes, 27.9 seconds. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Griffin Allaire’s strategy in the Beach to Beacon High School Mile had worked well enough the two previous years to land him on the podium.

The Wells High senior-to-be wasn’t about to change plans Friday in his last crack at the fourth annual event that quickly has become a staple of the summer, held at Fort Williams Park on the eve of Maine’s largest road race.

The cross-country style course takes two laps near the finish line that more than 6,500 runners, including some of the fastest in the world, will cross Saturday at the 22nd annual Beach to Beacon. Allaire knew it well after finishing third in 2017 and second last year. At the top of the hill on the second pass, he broke away from a tightly bunched lead pack that included Tyler Patterson of Brunswick, Jack Bassett of Cape Elizabeth and Will Shaughnessy of Brunswick.

“I used the same strategy that I used the first two years. Third time’s a charm. It worked,” said Allaire. “I just think I’m overall stronger than I was the first two years.”

Allaire won in 4 minutes, 35.0 seconds, the second-fastest time in the race’s history behind the 2018 winner, Lisandro Berry-Gavira, who holds the course record of 4:33.7. Patterson finished second in 4:37.6 with Bassett in third (4:40.9).

“It’s unbelievable. It’s really an honor to run this race and to win it this year, because I know the kids that have come before me and won it and really run well,” Allaire said.

The girls’ winner, Karley Piers, used a similar move, surging after the peak on the second loop to break away from Kate Tugman of Gorham and Helen Shearer of Hampden Academy, the defending champion and course record-holder. Piers was timed in 5:27.9.

Piers, a junior-to-be at Falmouth High, was competing in the race for the first time, but her family history with the Beach to Beacon is long. Her mother, Sheri Piers, is a three-time winner of the Maine women’s division at the 10K race, set a since-broken Maine women’s course record in 2009, and has been on the race’s board of directors since 2016.

As Karley Piers came down the finish chute with a healthy lead, and a crowd of well-wishers in the grandstand, her mother exclaimed: “That’s mine. Oh my God.”

“It’s just been a part of my life forever and I’ve been wanting to do this race for so long, so I’m so excited,” Karley Piers said.

On Saturday she will be “jogging” the 10K with her father and brother, probably still on a high from both her win and the big-race atmosphere the high school runners enjoyed Friday.

Prior to the races, each participant (17 in the boys’ race; 14 for the girls this year) was introduced individually. Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Beach to Beacon’s matriarch and chairperson, was at the starting line giving final introductions.

The winner’s tape was held by world-class American athletes. For the girls’ it was bronze medalists from world championship meets – Amy Cragg  in the 2017 marathon and Emily Infeld in the 2015 10,000 meters. The boys accepted congratulations and chatted up Bowerman Track Club members Andrew Bumbalough and Chris Derrick. Noted race announcers Toni Revis and Andy Schachat gave the crowd updates before, during and after the races.

“This is such a good opportunity. It makes you feel really special having all these people here. They make you feel really important,” Karley Piers said.

Tugman, running the race for the second time, finished second in the girls’ race in 5:36.4, with Lila Gaudrault of Cape Elizabeth (5:36.8) and Shearer (5:37.6) close behind. Gaudrault, the 2018 Class B cross country champ who will be a junior, came from well off the pace after the first lap to track down Shearer in the finish area.

“I really love this race because it’s in my hometown but it’s also part of the bigger goal of training for cross country in the fall,” Gaudrault said.