By Chris O'Donnell
---- — They say the third time is a charm. But for Abiyot Endale, the third time was downright cruel.
Oh, Endale won the High Street Mile title for the third straight year last year in 4:04 (his fourth title in six years), but he has been after the record of 4:03.41 since he first entered in 2006.
He has returned every year since and will be among a handful of contenders for the 23rd Annual High Street Mile Sunday morning, the Parade before the Parade, beginning at Atkinson Common and finishing at Newburyport H.S.
The Boys and Girls Division (ages 15 and under) begins at 9:15 a.m. while the Open Women’s Division (16 and up) begins at 9:50, followed by the Open Men’s at 10:10. Registration is $20 before the race ($25 the day of for Open runners only) and numbers can be obtained at the Greater Boston Running Company on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Winner’s Circle Running Club is also soliciting a $1 donation from each entrant to be donated to the One Fund.
Endale, a native of Ethiopia, really can’t get any closer. In his first five appearances in the High Street Mile, he was unable to break 4:10, but he improved to 4:05 in 2011 and of course 4:04 last year.
He is capable, however, of the big race. He broke the four-minute barrier two years ago at the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City, running 3:59.4.
Last year, he said he felt like one of the townspeople.
“This is my favorite race,” Endale said. “This is the first race I did when I came to this country the first time. I love the people. Everybody knows me now. I never want to miss it.”
It takes a year’s worth of phone calls, e-mails, Facebook and schmoozing to put on a quality product in the High Street Mile, but the Winner’s Circle Running Club has done it again with a lineup of the utmost quality.
On a good day, the winning male or female could walk away with as much as $1,250. A sum of $650 will be awarded to the winner – up from $500 a year ago – with incentives of $200 for the course record and $400, courtesy of the Greater Boston Running Company, for the first sub-4:00 male and sub-4:30 female.
Along with Endale, the field is full of potential sub-4:10 milers, including Tuesday night’s Yankee Homecoming 5K winner Patrick Fullerton. In the best form of his career, Fullerton has several impressive races to date, including a second-place showing at the Manchester Mile on July 2, in which he ran the downhill course in 3:48.28.
As a junior at Stonehill College, Fullerton ran a 4:09.19 mile.
“Pat is in fantastic shape,” said Mike McCormick, the Youth and Track Coordinator of the Winner’s Circle Running Club and the ‘voice’ of the High Street Mile. “I think it’s one of our deepest fields. There is potential for several guys to break 4:10 and women to break 4:40.”
Additionally, Brian Harvey of the Boston Athletic Association, runner-up to Endale twice in the last three years, makes a return after running 4:11.9 last year, 4:12 in 2011 and 4:11 in 2010. His BAA teammate Dave Chorney is also back looking to improve on a 4:21 showing last year.
Also confirmed is Elliot Lehane, who recently capped his junior season at Boston University, where he highlighted with a 3:54.71 in the 1,500 meters (about a 4:12 mile).
The women’s record of 4:35, set by Amy Mortimer in 2008, could also be under threat with former BU standout Katie Matthews and Ethiopian Tigift Tufa in the field. Matthews, a three-time All-American in the 2013 indoor and outdoor seasons, ran a 4:46.95 mile a year ago.
Tufa, who will accompany Abiyot, has competed predominantly in distance races, her last a 51:57 result at the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, N.Y. (ninth overall, tops in the 30-34 category). She also won the Stratton Fairfield (Conn.) Half Marathon on June 23.
Returning to the youth race will be Joe and Josh Molvar, who finished third and fourth last year (Joe in 4:57.0 and Josh in 5:02.4).
Headlining the Master’s (over 40) Division is Joseph Ekuom, who has enjoyed a stellar season. His latest action was a fifth-place showing in the age 40-44 division at the Subaru Buffalo Four-Mile Chase in 20:58.