BANGOR, Maine — In 1980, Robin Emery won the women’s division at the first Walter Hunt Fourth of July Road Race.
“That was a 5K race and it started up by the Paul Bunyan statue and went through town,” recalled Emery. “Then they changed it.”
It has long since been shortened to a 3K and Emery, now 65, was one of 544 runners who finished the 32nd annual race from Brewer to Bangor on Wednesday in 16 minutes, 45 seconds.
“I think I’ve only missed two or three of them,” said Emery, whose winning time that first year was 18 minutes, 25 seconds.
“This is a nice course. It’s short and it’s over quick,” grinned Emery. “It’s downhill but everybody dies at the bridge because they went out too fast.
“It’s good to see everybody come out of the woodwork for this race,” added the Lamoine resident.
“That’s OK for me these days,” said Emery, who ran the Tour du Lac 10-mile race in the heat on Saturday.
Emery has bittersweet memories when she comes to the Hunt race.
Her close friend, Bill Pinkham, collapsed and died following the event in 2005.
“I think about it every year coming to this race,” said Emery. “He was a great guy.”
Emery and Ellsworth’s Tom Kirby are the race directors for the annual Flat Top 5K road race held in Lamoine in Pinkham’s honor.
Pinkham was known for his “flat-top” hairstyle.
“We hold it on the last weekend in March,” said Emery.
Race is family-oriented
The race is a family affair.
Philip Henry, wife Stephanie and children Jacob (11), Ella (8) and Preston (5) ran it together on Wednesday.
The Henrys moved to Bangor from New Brunswick five years ago.
“I like running in it every year,” said Phil Henry, who finished 50th in 11:07.
“I used to watch the race holding the children,” said Stephanie Henry, who made her Hunt race debut.
“It was great. It’s a nice family atmosphere. There were a lot of little kids running,” said Stephanie Henry, who intends to run it again next year.
For Hampden’s Jason Frisch, who was running with his son Zachary and Zachary’s friend Jacob Lorenzo, he was using the race “as motivation to pick up running again.”
Zachary Frisch crossed the finish line 152nd, Jason was 215th and Lorenzo was 244th.
But father did beat daughter in the case of Tommy Roberts and Abbey O’Connor.
Abbey O’Connor said she and her father share some good-natured trash talking leading up to the race.
Roberts finished 335th while O’Connor wound up 348th.
O’Connor also said she enjoyed running with her former Hampden Academy classmate Brianne Beck, who finished 320th.
Ten-year-old Abby Caron and her nine-year-old sister Meaghan ran it together.
“It’s good exercise,” said Abby Caron.
Tom Caron, their father, said Meaghan told him she didn’t want to run it again after trying it for the first time last year, but reconsidered.
“I wanted to try it again,” said Meaghan.
Abby and Meaghan finished 398th and 399th, respectively.
Fans make race memorable
John Mills of Brewer echoed the sentiment shared by the runners, that the fans make the race memorable.
“You’ve got people on both sides of the road cheering for you. It’s neat to see that many people cheering for you,” said Mills, who wound up 53rd.
The fans line up to watch the race and the ensuing parade.
Mills had a chance to run with his former University of Maine cross country teammate Brian Warren, who lives in Rockford, Ill., but is visiting family in his native Gardiner.
Warren finished 46th.
“It’s like you’re running in a tunnel of spectators,” said race winner Louie Luchini of Ellsworth. “It really excites you and helps you go when you’re hurting. It’s one of the most fun races around because of the spectators.”
“It makes for a good atmosphere with all the people cheering for you,” said Jennifer Hawkes of Bryn Mawr, Pa., who finished 341st.
Hawkes has family in Penobscot and it’s a family tradition to run the race.
Eddington’s Dawn Cadotte, who was 378th in her Hunt debut, agreed the fans made it a great race and said she was using it as training for a half-marathon.
Orono’s Doug Allen, 71, and 69-year-old John Tjepkema said they look forward to the race every year.
“It’s never entirely fun to run as fast as you can but it’s always something to look forward to,” said Tjepkema, who wound up 164th while Allen was 173rd.
Wheelchair competitors enjoyed race
Bangor’s Anna Moiey and Glenburn’s Marisa McCray were the two wheelchair competitors.
“I love being able to get my heart rate up,” said Moiey. “I thought I went faster than I had in the past. I love the people here.”
“I love the downhill parts of the race. It’s a lot of fun. I should have worked out a little more but I didn’t,” quipped McCray.
Beals wins scholarship
Alex Beals of Glenburn and Bangor’s John Bapst High School won the $1,000 scholarship awarded by the Sub5 Track Club.
It is based on performance and a series of short essays.
Beals, who finished ninth in the race, is going to attend the University of Southern Maine in Gorham in the fall.
“I’m going to run cross country and both indoor and outdoor track. Hopefully, I’ll be running the long distance races (in track),” said Beals, who was pleased to win the scholarship.
Legislator Luchini likes work
Hunt race winner Luchini is enjoying his work as a legislator for Ellsworth, Otis and Trenton.
“It’s different but it has gone pretty well,” said Luchini, who graduated from Stanford University in 2004. “They’re good people to work with. It’s rewarding work. I really wanted to come back to Ellsworth and do public service.
“I have learned so much through the whole process. I enjoy serving the constituency. When they call me with a problem, I can help them out.”
Guaraldo regimen paying off
Kristine Guaraldo was a runner at Brewer High School and at the University of Southern Maine.
Then she eventually got an office job and had two children, Owen and Olivea.
While doing some physical activity, she realized “how much out of shape I was. I couldn’t deal with it.”
She tried to run a 1.85-mile route around her neighborhood but faced the embarrassment of having to stop and walk.
“A couple of weeks later, I ran the whole way,” she said.
Guaraldo ran her first 3K road race in 13 minutes in 2005.
But she kept running and improving and her perseverance has been rewarded.
Guaraldo, 36, has become one of the state’s top road racers and she proved it this week by winning the Tour du Lac race and the Walter Hunt Memorial 3K during a span of four days.
“I had finished second two or three times (at the Hunt race). There was always somebody faster,” said Guaraldo, whose children also ran in the Hunt race.
Guaraldo ran the Hunt 3K in 10:35 this year after finishing second in 9:59 a year ago.