BREWER, Maine — The weather outside was delightful, but it was hard to find anyone more delighted than Riley Masters after the running of the 28th annual Brewer High Turkey Trot Sunday afternoon.
The University of Maine sophomore was all smiles after running the newly-revamped, 3-mile course in 14 minutes, 31 seconds and winning his second straight individual Trot title.
“I feel great. I just need to get my endurance up and strength back,” Masters said. “The speed’s there, but I’ve still got a little way to get back to where I was last year.”
This is the first race for the 19-year-old Veazie resident since September. Masters has been rehabbing an injured and inflamed knee that caused him to miss most of his fall cross-country season at UMaine.
“It’s definitely been a frustrating fall with my knee injury,” he said. “I didn’t want to push it too much in my first race back, but I did want to run a good time. This was a good race to test me and see where my strength is.”
So what was his grade?
“I think I’d have to give myself an A-plus,” he said with a big smile. “I felt great. It’s a relief. I was real nervous coming in.”
This was the first Trot for Ohio native Marie Strouse, but the 24-year-old UMaine graduate student wasn’t nervous. Actually, she couldn’t wait to put her running shoes on and get back in a competitive race for the first time in three weeks.
“It’s great! This is a short race for me,” said the Ohio State University graduate. “I did a marathon in New Hampshire a few weeks ago, so this is nothing compared to 26 miles.”
About the only challenge for Strouse, who’s working on her master’s degree in science in teaching, came when she realized she was way off her preferred pace.
“I looked at my watch and realized I was slow, but knowing the start wasn’t the same as the finish, I finally realized I’d better get moving,” said Strouse, who finished the race with a time of 17:35 to easily outdistance the rest of the female field.
Teen Bri Dunn was next at 19:12. The male runner-up was 18-year-old Patrick Mullarkey with a time of 15:30.
Last year, the course Masters conquered was different, and longer.
“I ran it once before, but that was on the old course. On this one, there’s no big hill at the end so it’s a lot more relaxing,” Masters said.
About the only bump in the road for Masters came while running behind the pace truck up front.
“It was funny. The pace truck stopped every once in awhile and I wasn’t sure what they were doing,” he said. “I was trying to use it to set my pace, but I gave up after about a mile and a half.”
Race director Steve Van Dolman said a pre-race problem involving the loss of all former race participants from a database failed to drastically reduce runner numbers, although it did have some effect.
“We had 368 total registered, which is slightly down from years past,” said Van Dolman. “We gave away 56 turkeys.”
Veteran race organizer Glenn Holyoke handled the start and finish.
“There may have been those people who were cued in from the mailings, so I’m sure it affected numbers to a certain degree,” said Holyoke. “The kids race looked down a little bit, but the numbers for the adult race were good.”