If the preregistration field is any indication, Sunday’s Walter Hunt Memorial 3K road race is going to a good one.
Defending champion Riley Masters has committed to running in the 3,000-meter race from upper Wilson Street in Brewer to downtown Bangor, along with past champions Louie Luchini and Mike Bunker, while co-race director Margaret Capehart said there’s a good chance Levi Miller may show up as well.
Registration tables will open at 8:30 a.m. at the Brewer Auditorium and close at 10:15, while the race kicks off at 10:45.
Masters will be wearing a special bib number to commemorate his breaking the 4-minute barrier in the mile earlier this year.
“He’s wearing bib number 335 [since] he’s the 335th American to have broken the 4-minute mile,” Capehart said. “Doug DeAngelis emailed me and said that, so we offered that bib to Riley.”
Capehart said more than 250 people have signed up as of presstime Friday, and the T-shirts handed out to the first 250 registrants are gone.
Masters of Bangor, who won the 2009 race in 8 minutes, 16 seconds, is coming off an outstanding sophomore year at the University of Maine in which he ran in the NCAA Championships in the mile (indoors) and 1,500 meters (outdoors), qualifying for the finals in each.
He has taken a bit of downtime after participating in last weekend’s U.S. National Championships in Iowa, and that could be a positive thing.
“I actually think that’ll play to my advantage. I’ll be a little more fresh, a little more relaxed,” Masters said.
As well as he’s running, Masters is a serious threat to break the 22-year-old course record of 8:10 shared by Tim Wakeland and Gerry Clapper.
Wakeland ran 8:10 in 1987 and Clapper matched that the following summer.
“I think Riley will do it. He really loves this race,” Capehart said.
Masters has been running this race ever since age 6, and he hopes this could be the year he etches himself in the history books.
“I think I’m in a little better shape this year, I’m definitely looking to hopefully take down that course record,” he said.
He certainly won’t be without challengers in Luchini and Bunker, while Masters said it’s possible Brunswick High star Will Geogheghan may show up, too.
Luchini, an Ellsworth native and former Stanford University runner, is having a great spring of his own, with wins at two of Maine’s top racing events, the Portland Sea Dogs Mother’s Day 5K in May and last weekend’s Tour du Lac 10-miler in Bucksport.
Luchini was timed in 51:46 in claiming the Tour du Lac.
Bucksport native Bunker, who won the 3K in 2004 and 2005, was second to Luchini at the Tour du Lac, completing that race in 52:11.
Miller is a Belfast High alum who is having a strong collegiate career at Georgetown University, and Capehart said that Masters sent her an email recently saying “there’s a good chance Miller could be coming.”
“It always helps you run a fast time knowing there is someone there that can catch you,” Masters said. “I know those guys will be back there, if not right with me. I’m looking forward to having some guys to run with this weekend.”
Should anybody break any course records this summer — the women’s record is 9:28, held by Wendy Delan — race sponsor FinshLynx will make a $1,000 donation to the charity of the winner’s choice.
That idea originated with FinishLynx founder and Orrington native DeAngelis, who is returning from Ipswich, Mass., to run Sunday’s race.
Potential female contenders include local standout Elizabeth Brunton of Birch Harbor, while Masters said UMaine teammate Jennie Lucy, also of Bangor, plans on running as well.