By Greg Phipps
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Not just one but two milestones were set in the men’s division at yesterday’s 23rd running of the High Street Mile.
Twenty-four-year-old Pat Fullerton succeeded both in eclipsing the course record of 4:03 set by Erik Nadeau in 1995 and breaking the vaunted 4-minute mark by crossing the finish line in a time of 3:58.8.
Fullerton used a strong surge over the final quarter of the race to defeat defending champion Abiyot Endale (27), who also ended up besting Nadeau’s 17-year record with a time of 4:01.4.
Endale came within five-tenths of a second of surpassing the record on his way to victory last year.
In the women’s race, former Boston University track star Katie Matthews (22) scored a comfortable nine-second win over runner-up Tigist Tufa (26).
A graduate of Stonehill College and Bradford resident, Fullerton liked his chances of cutting through the 4-minute barrier after excelling in a recent mile run in Manchester.
“About a month ago I ran a 3:48 mile up in Manchester, so I knew, after I did that, I had a shot at breaking 4 minutes here,” he said. “It’s awesome. So many people around town wished me well and supported me (leading up to the race). I didn’t want to disappoint them.”
Fullerton also won Tuesday’s Yankee Homecoming 5K in a time of 15:21.
The loud and enthusiastic cheers of the spectators at the finish certainly aided in spurring Fullerton on.
“I’ve never closed out a race faster than I did today,” he said. “The crowd really helped. With about 600 meters to go, I was getting tired and (Endale) was starting to pull away. That’s when I said ‘the heck with it’ and just took off.”
In the end, Fullerton was able to successfully carry out his pre-race strategy.
“My plan was to come out hard, then relax, and finish with a strong kick over the last 400 meters,” he said. “I ended up having to kick it into gear a little earlier than I expected, but I’m glad I did.”
David Chorney (26) placed third in 4:07.1, followed by Brian Harvey (26) in fourth at 4:08.4 and Lehaine Elliot (24) in fifth at 4:08.5.
The women’s event was less dramatic, although Matthews did make it interesting by finishing within 3 seconds of Amy Mortimer’s 2008 course record of 4:35. It was Matthews’ first time competing in the High Street event. She produced a time of 4:37.9, which was enough to handily defeat Tufa, who clocked in at 4:46.5.
“I hadn’t run a road race in about a month and a half,” said Matthews afterward. “I wanted to get ready for the (7.3) mile race in Falmouth next Sunday and try to bring back some of my competitive edge.”
Acknowledging that she’s more of a long-distance runner, Matthews said her summer regimen has been geared to improving her ability to compete in shorter events.
“The summer training I’ve been doing helped me today,” she sai. “I’ve been working on building up my speed and strength for short bursts, especially at the end of races.”
Brittany Gorski (22) came in third with a time of 5:15.3, followed by Zofia Wieciorkowska (50), the women’s master course record-holder, in fourth at 5:21.5, and Terry Ballou (45) in fifth at 5:22.6.
Rounding out the top 10 in the men’s race were: Peter Najem (27) in sixth, Mike O’Donnell (18) in seventh, Tadesse Biratu (33) in eighth, Matthew Orlando (20) in ninth and Brett Budzinski (38) in 10th.
For the women, Sara Bitterman (21) placed sixth, Alicia Tague (34) was seventh, Kelly Bradbury (46) was eighth, Maureen Moore (18) took ninth and Karen Durante (62) finished 10th.
Ninety runners took part in the men’s event while the women’s contest attracted 68 competitors.
Over 300 youngsters competed in the boys’ and girls’ (15 and under) race. Joe Molvar (14) ran a 4:45.4 to win the boys’ event, while Madeline Quigley (15) was victorious in the girls’ race with a 5:49.8.
Rounding out the top five in order of finish were Josh Molvar (13), David Ospina (14), Sam Coppola (15) and Alexander Connor (15) for the boys; and Kristen Mackie (15), Flannery O’Connor (12), Alex Mackie (14) and Erin Sullivan (13) for the girls.
For complete results go to www.coolrunning.com/results/13/ma/Aug4_HighSt_set1.shtml