Ellie Rand was concerned about her son, Glendon, and told his Brewer High School biology teacher Bill LoPotro about it during their parent-teacher conference his sophomore year.
“Part of the conversation was that I like sports but I wasn’t good enough to get picked for a team,” said Glendon Rand, who didn’t make the Brewer High freshman basketball team roster. “Bill was the cross country coach at the time but it was past cross country season so he mentioned having me going out for the outdoor track team in the spring.”
Rand did just that, saying he was the “slowest guy on the team.”
But he eventually became a very accomplished distance runner and coach and that has resulted in him earning a spot in the Maine Running Hall of Fame.
The Orrington native and 1980 Brewer High graduate will be inducted sometime next year pending the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joining him in the class of 2020 will be Harrington’s Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, Ellsworth’s Louie Luchini, Dedham’s Tim Wakeland, Lewiston’s Kelly Bennett Brown, Auburn’s Ralph Fletcher, Lovell’s Kevin McDonald, Freeport’s Andy Spaulding and New Gloucester’s Maureen Sproul.
The Maine Marathon, previously known as the Casco Bay Marathon, is being inducted into the race category in recognition of its combined 37 years of history in Maine.
“It is a neat honor and the thing I’m most proud of is the coaching I’ve done,” said the 58-year-old Rand. “I had my own running career for a while but coaching has provided me with the most memories. Coaches are the most underrepresented because most [Hall-of-Famers] are recognized for their running.”
Rand’s first experience as a runner came during the outdoor track season his sophomore year.
“I don’t think the coaches knew what to do with me. I was a 120-pound sophomore. On the first day of practice, I ran five miles in my basketball sneakers. I was way behind. It was crazy,” Rand said. “And we had a great group of distance runners.”
But it was such a positive experience that he decided to put his heart and soul into it and he won the state indoor two-mile race later in his career.
He also ran cross country, and both teams were state championship contenders.
“He was the best distance runner I’ve ever coached,” said former Brewer High coach Dave Jeffrey. “He was as tough as they come. If you wanted to beat him, you had to go into the depths of Hell to try. He would run you into the ground. He was fun to watch and coach.”
Rand went on to continue his career as a distance runner at the University of Maine where he competed on the track and cross country teams. He captained the 1983 and 1984 cross country teams and was the Maine collegiate champion in the 5K
He began his coaching career in 1984 as a Brewer High School assistant track coach under Jeffrey and he went on to become the head cross country coach 10 years later. He also assisted for a few years as an indoor track assistant.
He is still the head coach of the Brewer High boys and girls cross country and outdoor track teams. His Brewer High girls cross country team captured the Class A state cross country title in 1997 and his 2019 girls outdoor track team claimed the Class B state crown.
“He’s the whole package,” Jeffrey said. “He has been a terrific coach for Brewer. He built a program that includes all kids and it is also an educational experience. He develops his kids into well-rounded citizens and he uses running as a platform. He creates a family among his team.”
Rand, in turn, said he has benefited from running for “great coaches” such as Jeffrey and LoPotro at Brewer and Jim Ballinger and Ed Styrna at the University of Maine.
The biology and chemistry teacher said he feels he will always be involved in the sports “in one way or another” even after he retires. But the father of three sons (Luke, Colby and Dixon), two of whom ran for him (Luke, Colby), has been more than just a runner and coach.
He was the first president of the Sub-5 Track Club founded by his friend Doug DeAngelis and he still manages the club’s website which offers results from events across the state.
And he was one of the founders of the annual Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions in Belfast which draws high school runners from all over the northeast U.S. and eastern Canada. The 19th annual race is scheduled for October.
Rand said it wasn’t until a year ago that his mother told him about that conversation she had with LoPotro during the parent-teacher conference.
“I give my mom credit for having the conversation with him and with Bill for following up on it,” Rand said. “It really turned my life in a new direction. It gave me the focus and discipline I needed to be a better student. I started thinking about my future.”