Westbrook-Gorham Rotary gearing up for annual Patriot's Day high school road race

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WESTBROOK – The Rotary Club of Westbrook-Gorham is set to host its 68th Patriot’s Day Road Race on April 17. 

The race, open exclusively to high school runners, is supposed to have been founded in 1948 (Club officials are unsure of the exact year) by Franklin Emery to commemorate the famous ride of Paul Revere. A number of other races, including the Portland Boys and Girls Club’s Patriot’s Day Five-Miler and the big one itself – the Boston Marathon – also celebrate Revere’s historic ride, a 13-mile gallop on April 19, 1775 to rouse the countryside to action against the British.

The Rotary Club Race has supposedly (again, the Club’s records seem incomplete here) been held every year since 1948, with the exception of 2007, when it was cancelled due to weather. Originally, only boys partook of the competition; girls were formally invited to run in 1976.

“The event has attracted many top boy and girl runners, mostly from southern and central Maine,” says Race Director Owens McCullough. “Awards are presented to top boys and girls teams and individuals, and to top finishers from Gorham or Westbrook, but the object is mostly to provide a fun event just prior to the spring track season.”

Perhaps the biggest name to have run the race is Bruce Bickford. Bickford, according to his Wikipedia page, won gold in the 10,000-meter run at the 1987 Pan American Games, then went on to rep for the United States at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. 

The race course, a fairly flat, 2.11-mile loop, starts and finishes at Riverbank Park on Main Street in Westbrook. A map of the route can be found at http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=119020.

“We changed the start/finish a few years ago,” says McCullough, “but the closed loop has remained exactly the same, so we did not being a ‘modern record’ distinction.” 

Jim Doane set the boys record of 10:02 in 1976; Ashley Morgan set the girls record of 11:58 in 2006.

There are no entry fees for the race, but the Rotary Club is seeking donations; the suggested donation is a mere $1 per runner. Proceeds support the Club’s youth activities. Pre-registration is heartily encouraged, but day-of registration is available beginning at 9 a.m. The race itself starts at 10.

Anyone interested in registering can reach out to McCullough at omccullough@sebagotechnics.com. 

The Rotary Club can be found online at http://www.westbrookgorhamrotary.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/Rotary-Club-of-Westbrook-Gorham-106715956024436/. 

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME

The Rotary Club’s Patriot’s Day Race attracts top high school talent from across southern and central Maine. This photo is from the 2010 race.