Past champions return to celebrate race’s 40th anniversary

Moninda Marube will be back to run Bridgton's Fourth four miler. THEY WILL BE HERE Past champions indicating they will be returning to Bridgton this Fourth of July for the 40th anniversary running of the popular four-miler include: 1977: James Goodberlet 1978 & 1980: Abbi Fisher Gould 1980 & 1983: Ralph Fletcher 1981: Sally Sundborg 1982 & 1986: Leslie Bancroft Krichko 1983: Cathy Livingston 1987 & 1998: Colin Peddie (record holder at 18:46, will attend but does not plan to run) 1992 & 1996: Julie Peterson Menosky 1995: Dave Dunham 1998, 2001 & 2002: Kristin Pierce Barry 1999: Rose Prest Morrison 2002: Andy Spaulding 2004: Mark Mayall 2009 & 2015: Erin Flynn 2013 & 2015: Moninda Marube 2013: Mary Pardi

Moninda Marube will be back to run Bridgton's Fourth four miler.
THEY WILL BE HERE
Past champions indicating they will be returning to Bridgton this Fourth of July for the 40th anniversary running of the popular four-miler include:
1977: James Goodberlet
1978 & 1980: Abbi Fisher Gould
1980 & 1983: Ralph Fletcher
1981: Sally Sundborg
1982 & 1986: Leslie Bancroft Krichko
1983: Cathy Livingston
1987 & 1998: Colin Peddie (record holder at 18:46, will attend but does not plan to run)
1992 & 1996: Julie Peterson Menosky
1995: Dave Dunham
1998, 2001 & 2002: Kristin Pierce Barry
1999: Rose Prest Morrison
2002: Andy Spaulding
2004: Mark Mayall
2009 & 2015: Erin Flynn            2012: Silas Eastman
2013 & 2015: Moninda Marube
2013: Mary Pardi

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Why do some people log hundreds or thousands of miles during their lifetime to run competitively?

Moninda Marube runs to create change.

Sally Sundborg has been running for 40 years as a way to keep herself “happy and healthy.”

Erin Flynn finds running as a constant path to self-discovery.

Emily Ward says running is the only time in her day in which she can be fully present and let her mind wander.

Silas Eastman sees running as a chance to compete against others and himself.

Although their reasons differ, each had the competitive drive to train and emerge as champions of Bridgton’s 4 on the Fourth Road Race.

2016 marks the race’s 40th anniversary, and to celebrate the Lake Region’s and town’s marquee Independence Day event, Race Director Jim Cosey reached out to all champions to personally invite them to make a return to Bridgton.

Some will lace them up, at least one more time this Monday morning, joining the big crowd expected to line up on Main Street, near Food City for the 8 a.m. start.

Others are unable to attend, but continue to hold very fond memories of their moment when they were either the first man or first woman to break the finish line tape on Depot Street.

The News was able to track down a few of the past champions and learn why Bridgton remains special in their hearts.

Moninda Marube, 37, is a two-time champion (2013-14). A resident of Auburn, his two vivid memories are the heat of 2014 and “the hill.”

“I love challenges,” he said. “Running is part of my life that gives me focus and sense of direction.”

Last year, Moninda used running as a vehicle to create awareness. He ran 3,700 miles across the country from Maine to California to spread awareness of human trafficking and to end the labor trafficking of elite athletes and more. The run became known as the Moninda Movement.

“I realized that I can use my running to create change in our community. Hence my reason of running,” he said. “I used to run for me, but now I run for others.”

The Moninda Movement is a continuous project under Escape From Freedom 501c3, whose mission is to educate and create awareness on human trafficking, inspire people of all ages, mostly the young generation to not only get up and engage in healthy physical activities, but to also make right, healthy choices on a day-to-day basis.

“I strongly believe that for any meaningful change to be realized in this world, there must be a deliberate effort to positively influence and impact our young ones. We must model a path for them to build their lives on and continue to do so for other generations to come,” said Moninda, who is a professional Kenyan runner whose life has been full of roadblocks from the time he was 10 years old.

Like many others, Sally Sundborg of Harrison found competing in the Bridgton race was a perfect compliment to Fourth of July family activities.

“The first time I ran Bridgton was in 1981, the year I won it. We would spend our summer vacations in Maine over the Fourth so timing wise it was perfect,” she said. “I was getting into competing and knew it was a good race. My time was 23:53, the course record at the time. It was a well-run race with really good prizes. A shorter course than I was used to running, but just the right amount of hills and shade.”

Sally grew attached to the race because she enjoyed people along the course who were very encouraging, and it gave her a chance to shine in front of family members.

Over the years, Sally captured 14 medals or plaques for winning her age group including last year at age 65.

“I am looking forward to running this year and seeing a few old fellow runners and hopefully adding another trophy to the collection,” she said.

Dave Dunham also struck gold in his first run at Bridgton. A resident of Bradford, Mass., Dave first competed here in 1995.

“I was looking for a different race to do on July 4 and this one had good competition and prize money,” said Dave, now 52 years old. “I think it was listed in the ‘Road Race Management Guide’ and they invited top runners. I took advantage of that!”

His memories from Bridgton include “a tough hill” and Rusty Snow “outkicking me twice” to claim wins. Snow won an unprecedented six straight Bridgton races, 1996-2001.

What struck him about the race? “It seemed like the entire town turned out to watch and cheer,” he said. “I love to just run and live to compete (even though I’m a lot slower now).”

It is up in the air whether Dave will be amongst those taking part in Monday’s race, since he will be running the USA Mountain Championships the day before.

Erin Flynn is also returning to run Monday's race.

Erin Flynn is also returning to run Monday's race.

Erin Flynn (a two-time champ, 2009 and 2015) made her first trip to Bridgton a winning one, as well.

“I first ran Bridgton in 2009. At the time, I was living in New York City and was spending my first summer of weekends in Maine with my boyfriend (now husband). Having been raised in Maine, he was very familiar with the high level of competition that the race draws so he suggested that I run it,” said the 37-year-old from Newton, Mass., whose family has a camp in Denmark. “This race is one of my favorites. Even though I’m not a Mainer, I feel at home when I run it. The race director, Jim Cossey, and his team are so welcoming to all the runners who come to take part in this storied 4th of July tradition.
”

Erin loves the “history and the purity of this race.”

“Bridgton 4 on the Fourth represents all that is great about the sport of running. It’s about a community of people coming together, year after year, to share in their love of running on one of the most important days of the year in our country,” she said. “I enjoy so many things about running, but above all, I love that it’s a constant path to self discovery. It has taught me that with commitment, hard work and a positive attitude, we are all capable of so much more than we think.
”

Erin has competed in Bridgton five times, and will be returning for a sixth on Monday. “You bet! I look forward to a tough race and a fun after party!” she said.

Silas Eastman (middle) will be in the lead pack.

Silas Eastman (middle #411) will be in the lead pack.

For Silas Eastman, Bridgton on the Fourth has been a constant in his life.

“I started running 4 on the Fourth in 2003 when I was eight years old with my summer camp, Camp Owatonna,” said Silas, now 21, a resident of Chatham, N.H. “I can remember one of the first years that I ran the race, running it in skateboard shoes because I was going through that phase. Needless to say, it wasn’t that comfortable, but that was back when I still stopped to walk a lot.”

Silas became one of Maine’s top runners, winning several state championships during his four-years at Fryeburg Academy.

“I also have lots of great memories of running with Fryeburg Academy teammates (at 4 on the Fourth), as well as former Academy runner Tim Even, who I ran side-by-side with until the finishing straight the year that I won (2012).”

Silas loves the energy of the race.

“All of the camps that participate really emphasize how many people are out there just to have a good time and run with friends. It’s a great feeling to show up to the start line and see how excited the crowd is,” he said. “I run because I enjoy competing, both against others and against myself. Every year, I want to get a better time than the year before, and I like to see how hard I can push myself to achieve my goal, while watching so many others do the same.”

Silas will be running Bridgton for the 14th time, and looking to push himself to beat last year’s overall time.

“I use this race, as well as a few others, as a marker of how my summer training is going as I get ready for college racing in the fall,” he said. “Can’t wait for race day!”

Emily Ward of Richmond, Va. Competed in Bridgton just once, 2012, and won.

“My family vacations in Naples each year and I was training for a half-Ironman at the time and thought I would jump into the race for fun,” said the now 34-year-old. “I normally do not race short distances, so it felt very fast! My best memory was seeing my relatives cheer me on as I made a right at the last turn before the finish.”

When asked what did she like the most about the race, Emily said, “The no-frills, local feel. So many races nowadays are so big and promote bells and whistles (bands, swag, amenities) and Bridgton is as local and fun as it gets.”

What she enjoys most about running is that it is the only time in her day in which she can be fully present and let my mind wander.

Emily will be unable to be here because she will be visiting Eugene, Ore. as a spectator at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trial.

“I cannot wait to get back up there (Bridgton) to run it in future years,” she said. “My family still rents a camp up there each year and it kills me when I cannot go! These are some of the best memories of my life. Breaking the tape at the finish line was only icing on the cake.”

There will be over 2,000 people of all running abilities lining up at the starting line. For some, it a chance to put themselves to the test. For others, it’s about spending some time with friends, or just being able to say, “I did it.”

Peter Bottomley is a Bridgton 4 on the Fourth regular. His first race was back in 1979. He finished third in 21:07.

“It was this race that gave me the confidence and enthusiasm as a 17-year-old to keep training and launch what turned out to be a long running career,” he said.

Peter finished second twice in 20:18 and 20:24.

“Both times, I went out too fast and older, more wily, racers passed me,” he recalled. “I’ve always regretted that I never won this race, but I’ve enjoyed the competition every year that I’ve raced.  See you on the 4th!”

Last year, at 53, he won his age category (50-54) in 23:06.

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