BANGOR, Maine — Louie Luchini believes he may have run the Bangor Labor Day 5-Mile Road Race once before, back during the 1990s when the event concluded on the harness racing track at Bass Park.
His return to one of Maine’s long-standing running events was much more memorable, as the Ellsworth native and former 11-time All-American at Stanford University set a course record while winning the 50th anniversary edition of the race Monday morning.
The 31-year-old Luchini, now a state representative serving House District 38, which includes Ellsworth, Otis and Trenton, as well as an assistant cross country coach at Ellsworth High School, was timed in 25 minutes, 2 seconds to break the former mark of 25:29 set by Judson Cake of Bar Harbor in 2005.
Rosalea Kimball of Readfield won the women’s division, passing two-time defending champion Kristine Guaraldo of Brewer as the two entered the final stretch of Main Street leading to the finish line.
Kimball placed 15th overall among the race’s 156 finishers in 31:37, while Guaraldo was next in 31:54.
Luchini ran with another state representative and high school cross country coach, 2006 race winner Adam Goode of Bangor, for the first two miles before pulling away — thanks in part to a little advice from his running mate that enabled him to stay on the course.
The route veers off pavement briefly midway through the course, taking a path from Fourteenth Street Extension toward Holland and Wiley streets that enables the runners to avoid traffic.
“It was great because Adam told me where that trail was,” said Luchini. “I probably would have missed that trail if it wasn’t for Adam, so that was good.”
Luchini subsequently was motivated by Gary Allen of Great Cranberry Island, who was running the race course for the 10th time since starting shortly after midnight for a total of 50 miles as a tribute to the event’s golden anniversary.
“Last weekend I raced in Northeast Harbor and didn’t feel very good, so I just wanted to come out here and run to see how I felt,” said Lucchini. “But the weather was so mild that once I got out there I felt good, and when I saw Gary Allen running his 10th loop I figured I might as go pretty hard. If he’s doing it 10 times I can try to break the record.”
Goode nearly eclipsed Cake’s course record, finishing second in 25:34.
“I’m definitely excited, it was a good race for me,” said Goode, the head cross country coach at Bangor High School and the House District 15 representative who serves part of Bangor. “It’s no secret that Louie’s super good and he’s going to win these races, so I think I’m lucky that he’ll run the first couple of miles with me and help me be relaxed.”
Joe Capehart of Bangor placed third overall in 28:05, with three-time race champion Perry LeBreton (28:43) and Matt Homich of Ellsworth (28:57) completing the top five.
Like Luchini, Kimball also had run the Bangor race once before several years ago.
“The only thing I remembered about the course was this long, flat finish, which is tough, but people reminded me there was a hill in the middle,” she said. “They warned me there was this giant hill that was very, very hard, but I’m used to training on hills so I ran and then I kept looking to see if that was the only hill, because it seemed like there had to be another one.”
Kimball scaled Holland Street Hill, then increased her pace over the final two miles, eventually catching Guaraldo several hundred yards from the finish line.
“The last two miles were flat and downhill so I started picking it up, and there was one lady in front of me so I just gradually caught up with her,” she said. “She was quite a bit ahead of me, but I was able to pass her on the final corner turning back onto Main Street.”
Sarah Mulcahy of Baring (33:38) was third in the women’s field, followed by Jolene Ray of Enfield (34:20) and Brenda Lipzinger of Lagrange (35:20).
FINISHING KICKS: Among others completing the race was 64-year-old Robin Emery of Lamoine, who has won the women’s division a record 15 times between 1972 and 1998. … Race officials recognized former Bangor Parks and Recreation employee Mike Lucas during the postrace awards ceremony for his efforts in improving the event over the years. … This marked the final year for the current race course, as the start will be shifted next year from under the Interstate 395 overpass on Main Street to Dutton Street between Hollywood Casino and Geaghan’s Restaurant and Pub in an effort to deal with increasing traffic in the area. Next year’s course will follow the Bangor Waterfront until reaching the Sea Dog Restaurant, where it will resume the current route.