BANGOR — University of Maine track and cross country standout Riley Masters redshirted for the Black Bears track team this past spring to recover from the long cross country and indoor track and field seasons, and to “get some strength back,” according to head coach Mark Lech.
That strength was in full use on Monday as the 21-year-old was back to his usual ways, winning the Walter Hunt Memorial Fourth of July 3K Road Race for the third year in a row with a record-setting time of 8 minutes, 2 seconds, shattering the longstanding record of 8:10 shared by Gerry Clapper (1988) and Tim Wakeland (1987).
“Coming into the race I wanted to get my mileage up, but this is probably the worst I’ve felt in three years,” said Masters, a Bangor High School grad. “I stayed focused, though, and kept my sights set on the record and it worked out great.”
A record number of 581 runners finished the race, breaking the previous mark of 511 set in 2009.
Masters, who became the first UMaine runner in history to run the mile in under four minutes and was a ninth-place finisher in the mile at the NCAA Division I indoor track and field championships in Texas last March, crossed the one-mile mark in a time of 4:19 and didn’t look back, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Josh Trevino of Orono.
Rounding out the top five were Matt McClintock of Athens (8:30); Adam Goode of Bangor (8:34) and David Currier of Sidney (8:55).
Bangor native Jen Dagan won the women’s division with a time of 9:52, seven seconds faster than Kristine Guaraldo of South Portland. Rounding out the top five were Jennifer Lucy of Bangor (10:17), Meghan McCloskey of Brewer (10:53) and Maggie Bryan of Holden (11:37).
Louie Luchini, a former Ellsworth HS and Stanford University standout, and current state representative serving Ellsworth, Otis and Trenton, was expected to compete with Masters for the record, but did not run, which was something that influenced a change in Masters’ strategy.
“If Louie ran I would’ve tried to stay with him, but I think since he wasn’t there I started off a little slower in the beginning,” said Masters, who added that some running friends were supposed to run in the race but couldn’t make it.
“It was more of a solo effort and was all feel. I was pushing myself the whole way,” he said.
Dagan, who finished second in last year’s Hunt 3K, was pleased with her time this year and credited her performance to being more prepared.
“My time was well over 30 seconds better this year,” Dagan said. “I knew I had to come out a little quicker and be prepared for the downhill portion of the race.”
Dagan also cited the crowd’s energy as her favorite part of the race as the runners preceded the holiday parade as they began near Dunkin’ Donuts on Wilson Street, went over the Chamberlain Bridge, down Main Street in Bangor, over the Kenduskeag Stream footbridge and finished at Pickering Square.
First-time Hunt race directors Joe and Margaret Capehart, who are also both cross country and track and field coaches at Bangor’s John Bapst High , were pleased with this year’s record turnout, which had almost 100 more finishers than last year.
“It’s very exciting to have this many people come out,” said Joe Capehart. “There’s a running boom happening right now and with every road race there seems to be more and more people coming out. It’s great to see.”
Masters, who will return to Orono as a senior this fall, came into Monday’s race after turning in a second-place finish in the mile at the Maine Distance Gala held June 17 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Masters said he’ll be gearing up for cross country with some training and a few more road races this summer.