BANGOR — With two sons on the Mt. Blue cross country team, veteran runner Jeff Jones of Farmington admits he has to stay fresh.
“Now that I’m a masters runner, I have some teenage runners. My kids motivate me to get out and train and try to keep up with them,” Jones said.
Not a lot of people could keep up with the 40-year-old Jones in the Bangor Labor Day 5-mile road race Monday, as he topped the 110-runner field in 27 minutes, 14 seconds on a comfortable, sunny morning.
Jones was making his first Labor Day appearance, and was impressed with the historic race, which celebrated its 48th birthday.
“It was a nice course, it was well-directed, there was a little trail that I overran, but other than that it was well-marked and all the volunteers did a great job,” Jones said.
John Bapst cross country coach Joe Capehart of Bangor finished 49 seconds behind Jones in 28:03 while Jerod Hayes of Dover-Foxcroft took third in 28:17.
Rounding out the top five were Caleb Lander of Brewer’s 28:25 and Camden Gould of Old Town’s 29:29.
Brewer native Kristine Guaraldo topped the women’s runners in 30:15, with runner-up Elizabeth Brunton of Birch Harbor 35 seconds back at 30:49.
Laura Johnson of Boston finished third in 31:15, followed by Julie Brown of Millinocket in 37:01 and Erica Lambert of Bangor in 38:20.
Jones paced off Capehart early in the race, with the two clocking a 4:52 first mile, and Jones took over about a mile and a half in and consistently widened his lead throughout.
“[Capehart] started to slow a little bit so I just took the lead,” Jones said.
Jones is preparing to run some cross country races at the 5K distance this fall, so the Labor Day run was a nice warm-up for him.
“There are a lot of 5Ks around but I wanted something that was a little longer to have a little harder tempo for those fourth and fifth miles,” he said. “It hurts more the further you go so it must be better for you. I kind of like to use these as a tempo workout to see where I’m at.”
Jones doesn’t have any long-term racing plans as far as training for marathons or anything like that.
“I just kind of like to run,” he said, “when races pop up, if it looks good, I’ll go run it.”
Jones said he’d like to come back in the future.
“I think I may, it’s a nice time of the year and I don’t get up north very often. It’s a nice race,” said Jones, whose sons, Jaron and Jonah, are a senior and junior at Mt. Blue, respectively.
Jones’ running plans for the remainder of the fall are quite the contrast to those of Guaraldo’s, as the 34-year-old graduate of Brewer High School is running the Mount Desert Island Marathon next month.
She also won the Labor Day race in 2007, but Guaraldo was much happier with her winning time from Monday, which was more than three minutes quicker than her 2007 effort.
Guaraldo also took charge right from the start, pulling away from Brunton, who has had an outstanding summer on the Maine roads, early and not looking back.
Brunton was attempting to become the second woman in state history to sweep the Machias Blueberry, Northeast Harbor and Labor Day 5-mile races over one season.
Robin Emery accomplished it every year from 1980-84 and again in 1988.
The race featured a masters awards title for the first time, with Austin Townsend of Perry and Brown winning the respective titles.
The 56-year-old Townsend completed the race in 29:50, finishing eighth overall.