March 25, 2018
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Oldest Rockland road race attracts newcomers

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
Several of the members of the Couch to 5K running group are Melanie Butman (from left), Alyssa Rolerson, Elizabeth Poisson, Sherry Stone, and Elaine Meklin.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — The 33rd annual Mother’s Day road race will offer a few changes from past years, but it remains a constant for local runners.

And this year’s event will include a group of women who trained together to embark on their first road race.

The race is scheduled for Sunday with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. The Kids Fun Run will start at 8:30 a.m. and the adult run will begin as soon as the youth race is completed.

One change will be the location of the start and finish for the 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) race. The race will start and finish at Oceanside High School East at 400 Broadway in Rockland.

The other change is the sponsor of the race. The high school track team will be the organizer this year.

The race began in 1980, first organized by the Skyward, which offered substance abuse treatment for women. Coastal Child Care and then the local community action programs sponsored the subsequent years. Men were first allowed to participate in the race 22 years ago.

The race attracts more than 100 runners each year with the most being in 1995 when 190 runners and walkers participated. The course record was set by Michael Bunker of Rockland in 2010 with a time of 15 minutes, 28 seconds.

This year, 11 first-time runners are planning to run the course.

Russell Wolfertz Jr. of Owls Head is coaching the 11 women who have been working out at the Sphere Fitness in Rockland. Sphere came up with their adaptation of a six-week training regimen based on a Couch to 5K program for first-time racers.

Sphere will be donating the full class fees by the woman for training to a Little Field Home orphanage in Chigamba Village in the African country of Malawi.

The novice runners have a variety of reasons for their decision to train for their first road race.

“It’s been on my bucket list,” said Melanie Butman.

Alyssa Rolerson said she wanted to get into shape.

The group has created a Facebook page, Couch to 5K@Sphere, which allows the runners to share their stories and get advice from other runners.

“I think that is what runners are about. Getting healthy by caring and sharing,” said Wolfertz, who works at Sphere.

In their latest training run Monday night, along the course to be run in the Mother’s Day race, the women had times ranging from 28 minutes to 50 minutes.

“Not bad for couch people in their sixth week of effort,” Wolfertz said.

The cost to register in the Mother’s Day race is $15 for individuals and $25 for a family. Oceanside track coach Jesse Bartke also said there will be a raffle held at the end for participants with the prizes donated by local businesses.

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