Bruce Spaulding wanted to give up smoking, so he took up running.
He became obsessed with running and would take his family, including son Andy, with him to local road races.
“He replaced an unhealthy addiction with one that was healthy,” Andy Spaulding said.
Spaulding followed in his father’s footsteps and became an accomplished runner, good enough to earn a spot in the Maine Running Hall of Fame.
He will be inducted some time next year.
Andy Spaulding actually ran a road race with his father when he was in seventh grade, the Great Cranberry Island 5K.
“He said it was the only race he has ever beaten me. I had to stop and walk,” the younger Spaulding said.
They didn’t have a middle school cross country team in his native Searsport his seventh-grade year but added one the following year, so he signed up.
At Searsport High School, he finished fifth overall and helped lead the Vikings to the 1987 Class C cross country state championship.
He placed third in the 1988 title meet.
Spaulding also ran track and won the two-mile state championship in the Class C outdoor state meet at Orono High School.
“That was my lone state championship. I remember it well,” Spaulding said.
His chief rival was Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln standout Sam Wilbur.
“Sam also ran the one-mile, the 800 and the 4-by-400 relay. I put all my eggs in one basket. I only ran the two-mile. So I took it out hard,” said Spaulding, who capitalized on Wilbur’s fatigue.
A week later, they held a meet for the top six finishers in each class in each event and Spaulding wound up third with what turned out to be a career-best two-mile time of 9 minutes, 41 seconds.
University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame track and cross country coach Jim Ballinger offered him a partial scholarship of $1,000 per year, but Spaulding chose Springfield College in Massachusetts, even though he wasn’t given any money.
“I wanted to get away from Maine and see a bigger world, even though Massachusetts isn’t that far away,” Spaulding said.
He was introduced to his eventual vocation as an exercise physiologist, saying Springfield was the “creme de la creme” among New England schools in that course of study.
But he missed the state of Maine and transferred to UMaine after two years.
“Springfield was also pretty sketchy. I try to avoid running on busy roads like the plague,” he said.
Spaulding ran indoor and outdoor track and cross country at UMaine and had a solid career, although he did go through some rough times due to an issue with his iron.
He ended his collegiate career on a high by clocking a career-best time of 31:35 in the 10K.
He finished third in the North Atlantic Conference 10,000-meter race and was sixth at that distance in the New England Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The end of Spaulding’s college racing marked the start of an even better road racing career.
“I’m a little bit of a late bloomer. I was a lot better runner in my mid to late 20s. I passed a lot of people who used to beat me in high school and college,” Spaulding said.
He has run eight marathons and more than 20 half-marathons. His personal best marathon time of 2:27.54 came in 2000 in Las Vegas.
“I thought marathons were going to be my thing, but I was never able to overcome muscle fatigue,” he said. “Half-marathons are one of my best distances.”
His personal best in a half-marathon is 1:07.50.
The highlight of Spaulding’s career came in 2001. The then 30-year-old entered his first Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth and he was the state’s top finisher, which earned him $1,000. He was 19th overall in 31:29.
“It was a resurgence for me. It was so cool,” Spaulding said. “We got to rub elbows with some of the best runners in the world.”
Spaulding, the co-founder of the Dirigo Running Club, won the Beach to Beacon Maine men’s division again the following year with a time of 31:26.
The 49-year-old Spaulding, who lives in Freeport with wife Katie, 14-year-old twin boys Will and Eli and daughter Josie, 13, said he is still processing his Maine Running Hall of Fame status.
“I didn’t quite think I was Hall of Fame material so I haven’t thought about it a lot over recent years. But when your running peers reach out and congratulate you and tell you it is well-deserved, it’s cool,” said Spaulding, who is the senior account manager for Wellvation, which specializes in corporate wellness programs for employees.
“I think back on it and I did have a good running career,” Spaulding said.