Runners line up at the start of the Roger Willey 5K on Sept. 26 in Ellsworth. The event marked the Down East Family YMCA’s first road race of 2020. ROBIN CLARKE PHOTO

Down East Family YMCA holds 1st road race of 2020

ELLSWORTH — Down East Family YMCA’s first road race of the year came much later than expected.

After nearly 11 months since its last race, the Y held its first of 2020 on Saturday with the running of the Roger Willey 5K and 10K in Ellsworth. A combined 53 people competed in the events, which saw a number of precautions taken to ensure a safe environment on race day.

The 10K race went down to the wire with Andrew Kephart (39 minutes, 37.3 seconds) narrowly beating out fellow Ellsworth native Matt Shea (39:41.8) to claim first place. Katherine Collins of Winterport claimed the event win on the women’s side with a time 47:47.3 and an overall place of 11th in the 30-runner field.

In the 5K race, Peter Williams of Lubec (17:35.5) beat out Phil LeBreton of Blue Hill (20:28.0) to claim first place overall. Jess Curley of New Hampshire (23:00.3) was the top finisher on the women’s side as well as fourth of 23 runners overall.

With a few precautions and modifications necessary to meet state guidelines on road races, the pre- and post-race atmospheres were slightly different than usual. Runners were masked prior to and following the race, and the starting line saw contestants spaced out 6 feet apart from one another. Winners were sent their awards via mail rather than collecting them following the event.

“We had a safe race with limited numbers, separate races for the two distances, hand sanitizer available and no awards or gathering after the race,” organizer Robin Clarke said. “Runners were so happy to be racing and seeing their friends again.”

Race planners handled timing themselves and also made plans regarding the event known to local law enforcement. Those efforts, Clarke added, went beyond those set forth by state guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“We did the timing ourselves to cut down not only our costs but also the amount of people at the finish line,” Clarke said. “Our goal was to provide a safe road race and show it could be done with planning and support from the community.”

The race marked the Y’s first since last year’s Veterans Remembrance Road Race. Clarke said DEFY still hopes to hold this year’s Veterans Remembrance Road Race in November.

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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